A common misconception about community association annual meetings is that owners may vote to elect board members prior to the annual meeting using an absentee ballot. Absentee ballot voting is not permitted, however, unless expressly authorized by the association’s governing documents. For example, if the association Bylaws (sometimes referred to as the Code of Regulations) allow potential candidates for the board to be nominated at the annual meeting or require that board members be elected “at a meeting” or “in person or by proxy,” and are silent with respect to an absentee ballot procedure, this generally indicates that election voting must take place at a meeting of the membership, where a quorum is present.
To enable your association to utilize mail-in ballots as a means of electing future board members, the association must pass an amendment to the Bylaws authorizing this method of voting. While voting outside of a meeting can be beneficial to associations by allowing owners to vote directly for candidates regardless of whether they attend the meeting, the use of absentee ballots may also have the effect of discouraging attendance and owner participation at the annual meetings. Ultimately, each board must weigh the pros and cons of absentee voting and decide what works best for the association’s operations.
To decrease the likelihood that your association election will be challenged, do NOT conduct elections by absentee ballot unless specifically permitted in the Bylaws of the association.