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When does voting start?


Guest Robert1952

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Guest Robert1952

My HOA bylaws state: "Each membership shall have one vote on all matters before a meeting of membership. Votes may be cast in person or by absentee ballot (absentee ballots shall be postmarked on or before the date of the meeting) delivered to the corporate secretary or election committee (i.e. which will consist of a minimum of 3 tellers and appointed by the Association president at the meeting)." [underlines added]

1. For the annual meetings, ballots are mailed to all of the memberships along with the notice of the meeting. At the meetings, ballots are also collected from those present that wish to vote in person. For the annual meetings the ballots typically contain trustee election choices and a budget ratification question.

Does the voting start when the ballots are sent out?

My thought - it depends as to the question of a quorum. If a quorum is required for a meeting (typically yes, not always in my state), then no. The absentee votes as well as memberships present at the meeting form the meeting attendees. If a quorum is reached, then the question posed on the ballot is before the assembly and the vote is underway. It ends when the chair determines all who which to vote have voted. Since the voting started at the beginning of the meeting, any motion to postpone or alter the question would be out of order as the voting is underway. To change the question would be to disenfranchise those memberships who rightfully chose to vote by absentee ballot. If a quorum is not reached, then no question is decided except as described below, and no motions of any kind are possible.

As to the other case, in WA state, the state law concerning HOAs specifically states that unless at a meeting of the owners, a majority of the votes in the association are allocated to reject the budget, the budget is ratified, whether or not a quorum is present. The state law does not qualify the no quorum requirement by 'unless specified otherwise in the governing documents, etc'. In this case, the voting stated when the ballots were sent out and no motions to postpone or alter the ballot question is possible because the question is before the membership regardless of a quorum or not. The vote occurs and the question is decided whether or not a quorum exists.

2. For special meetings of the membership, notice of the meeting as well as the subjects must be provided. Since our bylaws grant every member the right to vote by absentee ballot, a ballot with the question is sent with the notice. The question is the same as above, does the voting start when the ballots are sent out? I believe the answer is the same as above. If the question is anything other than a budget ratification, no - it starts when it is determined a quorum is present and therefore motions to postpone or change the question are out of order.

Thoughts of more knowledgeable people than me will be greatly appreciated.

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Does the voting start when the ballots are sent out?

I'll assume you've read the sections on absentee and mail in voting (p. 423ff, RONR 11). I don't think there's anything in RONR that would lead one to believe the voting starts at any time prior to the Chair putting the question at a properly called meeting with a quorum present. How your HOA bylaws, or state law, play into this is beyond the scope of this forum.

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Guest Robert1952

Thank you for the response. It led me to find my organization has adopted bylaws, in conjunction with state law, requiring votes of persons who attend meetings and those who vote as absentees by mail to be counted together contrary to the wisdom of RONR p423 ll.25-35. Now I know why I am confused.

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Since you have to send out ballots prior to the meeting, of course, and (I presume) they contain the names of the various nominees for various offices and other questions for a vote, there is, clearly, no way you can prevent folks from filling them in and mailing them (or electronically transmitting them, or whatever - carrier pigeon -?) back on their own good time.

But you should NOT open or COUNT them until after all the in-meeting votes have been collected and handed off to the tellers. That way those absentee votes can be saved if the members at the meeting postpone things to a later meeting.

The problem - a substantial one - of what to do if an original proposal is amended, or floor nominations are made, at the meeting is one you will have to grapple with. RONR (and nobody here) has any idea what to do. That is why absentee voting should never be mixed with in-meeting voting. Ask the folks who wrote the WA law insisting on absentee voting on "all issues" (!!!) (or ask your bylaw authors if they are the culprits) what they suggest. I'll bet they have no idea either.

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