Is your HOA ready for electronic voting?
About two years ago, I helped my first HOA board establish their electronic voting process. It was an interesting endeavor filled with a large number of unknowns for the board and management team including alignment with bylaws, technology selection, and communication challenges. The benefits were exciting and new: no need for board candidate speeches at the annual meeting, no searching for resident volunteers at the meeting to count votes, no need for proxy write-ins, a secured and validated accurate vote count, and most excitingly, no uncertainty if quorum was reached in order to take a vote on critical items for the community.
But where do you start to enable electronic voting for the community? They felt it would be a simple task of selecting the right electronic voting website… but it was much more than that. The first step was to determine if the community bylaws, which were written 10+ years prior had the foresight to incorporate wording to allow for capturing votes online. Theirs did, but if yours doesn’t, the first step is to work with your legal counsel and utilize your manual voting process once more… to vote on amending the bylaws to allow for electronic voting.
The next step in the process was to plan their approach for communicating the change to the community, ensure all owners who were in good standing with the association had access to the site, determine the timeline needed to request board member nominations, give them time to record speeches to add to the ballot, and ensure we had enough time to hold the voting window before the annual meeting. Then we had to focus on their owners’ data. We spent a considerable amount of time determining the official owners’ list – that had email addresses and home addresses, and then cleansing and validating these lists to ensure we were able to communicate to every owner.
Then came the voting technology, but which one to choose? Back then, there were numerous sites targeting electronic voting. Now, there are even more. Some target clubs and civic organizations. Some target businesses. And a few were made for associations and communities. But (there’s always the but) … their approaches to voting were vastly different. Some only allowed simple votes. Others were overly complex. Some allowed you to control the voting process and communications, while others were more autonomous. Some had really nice graphics and an easy to use interface on computers, tablets, and smart phones, yet others were simple and were only accessible via computer. And then there were the cost models- which were as varied as their approaches and technologies. There’s no one “best” site out there. There are multiple great sites that work with the different needs of different communities.
The board agreed on the site that matched their needs the best, and we moved forward with creating their ballot. Candidates recorded their speeches, items that were up for community vote were added to the ballot, and off we went! The ballot was live, and it was time to vote. A few owners were in there voting immediately, while it took some reminder emails and communications posted around the property to get others to vote. But it was so much easier than trying to get residents to all show up on one specific evening to make quorum.
The community did get enough votes to make quorum – it was one of, if not the best voting turnout they had ever captured. The residents loved it, especially investment owners who were not local residents. They were able to vote anywhere and have their vote count in the decisions made for the community.
The process to enable electronic voting for that homeowner’s association took planning. It took a focused effort on change management for the community. It took an experienced analysis of technologies and cost models to determine the right fit for the community.
Does your HOA board or management team have this combination of skills? If not, we can help.
Community Technology Consultants has helped multiple communities make the transition to electronic voting. We work with you to understand your community’s specific needs and develop the best plan for implementation, change, and technology selection to make the electronic voting evolution a success for your residents.
Contact us today to get started!
Community Technology Consultants – Making Residential Communities Smarter and Safer Through Technology