Book Source: Condo Board Election Revolt

Summary By The Author:

V.Lucier, Floridaís First Chief Election Monitor for Ombudsmanís Office.

Here is a plain English Q/A summary of the regular condominium election process defined in The Florida Condominium Act, Florida Statute (FS718 section 112(2d)) and Florida Administrative Code (FAC) Chapter 61B-23.0021.

 When do you need to have an election?

If you have more candidates that there are vacancies for expiring terms in office, you may need an election otherwise no election is required. I say ďmay,Ē because you need to have 20% of the associationís authorized voters participate, otherwise you donít have an election and the ďholdover doctrineĒ kicks in making the current board continue to exercise its powers until successor board members are appointed or elected.

 Who can or canít vote?

Obviously, unit owners can vote in accordance with the association bylaws. Voter certificates for multiple unit owners may be required and are required for corporations and trusts.  Renters, individuals with power of attorney and proxy holders cannot vote in a regular election, nor can one unit owner vote for another unit owner.

Associations can no longer†cast ballots for units owned by the association at regular board member elections.

How many ways can you vote?

You do not have to personally deliver your ballot to the association. There are several ways to vote. You can mail your ballot, drop it off at the office, or give it to a neighbor to submit it for you. Or you can submit it at the election meeting. If for some reason you did not get a ballot or lost the one you did receive, you can get another ballot and the envelopes at the meeting. The association is required to have some on hand and to allow you to vote in person. If youíre out of town and did not receive a voting package, you can prepare your own ballot with the candidatesí names, use your own two envelopes making sure the outside one has your name and unit number printed and your signature (these three items are key for getting your outer envelope validated and to have your vote counted). Mail it directly to the association or to a friend to bring it to the election for you.

Who can run for the board?

  1.       According to the statutes a person who has been convicted of any felony in this state or in a United States District or Territorial Court, or who has been convicted of any offense in another jurisdiction that would be considered a felony if committed in this state, is not eligible for board membership unless such felon's civil rights have been restored for a period of no less than 5 years as of the date on which such person seeks election to the board. .

  2.       Board member term expire at the annual meeting, but a board member can be reelected unless otherwise permitted by the bylaws.

  3.       If the bylaws permit staggered terms of no more than 2 years, a board member can serve 2-year staggered terms if a majority of the total voting interest approves it.

  4.       If no one is interested running in opposition to a board member whose term has expired, that board member is automatically reappointed to the board without having to stand for reelection.

  5.       CO-owners of a unit may not serve as board members at the same time in condos of more than 10 units.

  6.       A person who has been suspended or removed by the division is not eligible to be a candidate.

  7.       A unit owner delinquent in the payment of any fee or assessment for more than 90 days is not eligible to run for office.

How does the election come about?

The notification and delivery procedures put the wheels in motion. Here is an easy way to remember all the election milestone dates. Remember this number sequence: 60-40-35-34 To 14 and you have all the relevant dates of a regular election schedule. They are the dates of all the events that must take place before Election Day.

60 Days Before The Election: The FIRST notice of election is sent to the unit owners. It announces the date, time, and place of the election. A properly prepared notice provides the candidacy cut-off date, the candidate information sheet submission cut-off date, and instructions for completion of the information sheet. Included are the agenda of the meeting and the correct address to which to mail your candidacy. 

40 Days Before The Election: This date is the cut-off date for submitting your candidacy. If you wish to be on the ballot, you have to make sure the association or the designated election agent receives it before the cut-off date. Personally delivery it or send it by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested. The association is supposed to give you a written receipt, but if it doesnít, you still have proof of timely submission.

35 Days Before The Election: That is the cut-off date for submitting your information sheet to be included with the ballot. Send it in with your candidacy to make sure it gets there on time and that you have proof it did without incurring additional mailing costs. The rules on the information sheet itself are straightforward. You are allowed a one-sided 8.5Ēx11Ē sheet of paper. If you wish to give your message in two languages, it will cut your space in half. What you say is up to you. The association cannot change any of it, even if you misspell your name.  Also, if itís handwritten and nobody can read your handwriting, thatís the way, itís going to be printed. If you and other candidates donít use a full page, the association may ask your permission to combine yours with someone elseís, but the association canít combine if you donít agree. However, for economy the association can print different information sheets on two-sided paper. In fairness, however, the information sheet should appear in the same order as the names on the ballot, alphabetically by surname. Now the association has all it needs to prepare the election package.

34 To 14 Days Before The Election: The SECOND notice is sent to the unit owners. It can go out anywhere from 34 to 14 days before the election. Sometimes the association has everything ready to go and can ship early; sometimes they get information sheets on the last day and have clerical work to do with it and that places a delay on sending out the materials. For associations that have many non-permanent resident owners, it is wise to send the notice out early. 

            The second notice should not contain any editorial comments for or against the candidates nor should it include any endorsements. The second notice package should contain the ballot, an outer envelope addressed to the person or entity authorized to vote with name, unit number, and a space for signature. Also included should be a smaller inner envelope to put the ballot in, candidate information sheets, meeting agenda, and optionally voting instructions in two languages where appropriate. The association is not required to provide voting instructions even though they are well defined in the FAC! Nor is the association required to provide an affidavit of mailing for the second notice, as it has to do for the first notice.

What about the actual election?

The annual meeting actually combined two meetings--the business meeting and the election. You can have one without the other. You need a quorum for the business meeting and you need 20% qualified voter participation to have an election.

Who conducts the election?

An impartial election committee conducts the election. The rules on who can serve on that committee are simple. You have to be a unit owner. You canít be a current board member, an officer, a candidate or a spouse of any of the above. The impartial committee has these basic responsibilities: validate the outer envelopes, count the ballots and record the election results. The impartial committee can perform pre-validation of ballots on hand on the same day of the election, before the election as long as it has been noticed and the membership can attend to observe. Otherwise, that task is performed at the election.

            At the election members should be allowed to vote up until the outer envelope validation process is completed, at which time the poll should be announced closed, just prior to opening the first outer envelope.

            Both the outer envelope validation process and the vote counting take place in the presence of the unit owners in attendance.

            If the election end in a tie for the last board vacancy (and there may be more than two candidates tied for the position) a runoff election is required unless the individuals involved in the tie are willing to withdraw from the election thus leaving a single candidate, then the single remaining candidate involved in the tie fills the vacancy. Otherwise, a runoff election is required. The association has seven days to send out a runoff election notice. Only the candidates involved in the tie can be on the ballot and their original information sheets are sent out again. The runoff election cannot be held for at least 21 days and no more than 30 days after the original election. Itís all handled the same as a new second-notice package.

NEW:  FS 718.112(2)(d) 3.b. -- Written certification or educational certificate:

b. Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, each newly elected or appointed director shall certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the associationís declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and current written policies; that he or she will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability; and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the associationís members. In lieu of this written certification, the newly elected or appointed director may submit a certificate of satisfactory completion of the educational curriculum administered by a division-approved condominium education provider. A director who fails to timely file the written certification or educational certificate is suspended from service on the board until he or she complies with this sub subparagraph. The board may temporarily fill the vacancy during the period of suspension. The secretary shall cause the association to retain a directorís written certification or educational certificate for inspection by the members for 5 years after a directorís election. Failure to have such written certification or educational certificate on file does not affect the validity of any action.


Election Records

All election materials must be retained for one year. Unit owners can inspect them, on request.