By Daniel Furlow, Leland Management
This is one of the most important times of the year for any association. It is the time for annual meetings, when Condominiums hold a vote to decide who will sit on their Board of Directors. It is crucial that you are familiar with some important statutes and rules to ensure a legal, conflict-free election. I will run through some of those important rules below
A candidate must give notice of their intent to run as well as be eligible for candidacy, no less than 40 days before the election, to run as a proper candidate. To be considered eligible the candidate must also meet certain criteria listed below
1. Co-owners may not sit on the board together unless they own multiple units in the community, and there are not enough candidates to fill the vacant spots.
2. If an owner is more than 90 days delinquent on any fee, fine, regular or special assessment they are not eligible.
3. A person who has been convicted of a felony in any US State or District, including crimes committed in other states that would be considered a felony in Florida, is not eligible unless their civil rights have been reinstated for a period no less than 5 years.
The notice of intent to run must be received by the association no less than 40 days before the election. It should be submitted by certified mail, return receipt requested, personal delivery, regular US mail, facsimile or telegram. The association must issue a receipt acknowledging delivery of the notice
Two notices must be mailed or delivered to the unit owners prior to the election itself in addition to the annual meeting notice.
First notice must be mailed or delivered at least 60 days prior to the election. It must include the association name and address, as well as remind the unit owners to submit their notice of intent in to run in writing, at least 40 days before the meeting.
The second notice must be mailed or delivered to the unit owners with the annual meeting notice and agenda no less than 14 days, and not more than 34 days prior to the election. The second notice should include the printed ballots, the envelopes for returning the ballots and candidate information sheets that were submitted to the board.
The personal information sheet should be only one side of an 8.5″x11″ sheet paper. It can include information about candidates background, education, and qualifications including factors relevant to the election. All candidates must have an equal amount of space for their personal sheet.
The included large envelope should be pre-addressed to the person authorized to receive the ballots. The large envelope must also contain a section for the voter’s name, unit identification and signature. The ballot, which contains all candidates names in alphabetical order is then placed in the smaller unmarked envelope. There should only be one ballot per envelope, but multiple small envelopes can be sent in a larger one if the owner has multiple units in the community. If the small envelope contains more than one ballot, those ballots will be disregarded. The large envelope is then mailed or hand delivered to the association, not to be opened until the election meeting.
The election must take place at the annual meeting and be held within 45 miles of the community. No quorum is required, but 20 percent of eligible voters must cast their ballots for the election to be valid. There must also be additional blank ballots at the meeting, for qualified voters who have not yet voted. These ballots must be in the same format, including the large envelope, info sheet, ballot and small unmarked envelope.
The ballots should be collected by an impartial committee which cannot include board members, officers, candidates or the spouses of those people. The election committee then checks the signature on the outer envelope against a list of qualified voters, checking each name off as they go. If there is no signature on the outer envelope then the vote is disregarded. Once the first outer envelope is opened for counting, the polls are closed. The inner envelopes are placed in a receptacle before counting openly in the presence of unit owners.
There can always be issues, even at the most well ran condo association elections. If you follow the guidelines provided above you will ensure that your election is legal and valid in the eyes of the chapter 718, Florida Statutes which govern Condo Associations.