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The 2023 Season is Upon Us. Time to Think about Elections

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A new season means a new annual meeting and election. In condominiums and cooperative associations there are two components: the election of directors and the annual meeting. Most think of them as one and the same, but they really are separate events which occur concurrent with one another. The condominium and cooperative election takes place as long as at least twenty percent of the eligible voters (those who have not had their voting rights suspended in the manner permitted by the statute) cast a ballot. [Note: this is not the case in homeowners associations unless their documents have been amended accordingly.] Even if there is no quorum at the meeting itself, if you obtain the requisite number of ballots for the election of directors, the election can still occur. The annual meeting portion covers anything not related to the election. So, for example, if you are voting on a material alteration, or an amendment, that would occur at the annual meeting and a quorum of the voting interests must be present for that occur.

In cooperative and condominium elections, the respective statutes prescribe the following detailed procedures:

Sixty days prior to the annual meeting and election the first notice must be mailed out to all of the owners advising them of the date and correct mailing address of the Association and advising them of the deadline and address to submit their notice of intent if they wish to become a director. There are additional requirements for the first notice if electronic voting is being used.

Forty days prior to the annual meeting, notices of intent are due from anyone desiring to run for an open seat on the Board. If that date falls on a weekend or holiday, it is still the responsibility of the potential candidate to ensure delivery. The Board may not extend the deadline. This has been reviewed by the Division of Florida Condominiums, Time Shares and Mobile Homes in its arbitration decisions and they have found that the Board has no authority to grant any extensions of a statutory deadline. Also, this is the date that the potential candidate must be qualified to be a candidate. If he or she is not qualified on the deadline date for submission of the notices of intent, his or her name cannot be placed on the ballot. There are a number of reasons found in each statute that a candidate may not be qualified and you should discuss those issues with your community association attorney if you have any concerns.

Thirty-five days prior to the annual meeting and election the Candidate information sheet is due. It may be one side of one 8-1/2” x 11” sheet of paper. It is meant to communicate about a person’s candidacy and background to the voters.

Finally, at least 14 days prior to the meeting the second notice must be mailed to all unit owners. Note that your bylaws will usually provide guidance on this and may even require a longer time frame for mailing. You do not have to wait until exactly 14 days prior to the meeting. The notice may be sent earlier (between 34 days and 14 days prior to the meeting).

This is statutorily controlled and you should discuss any issues with the foregoing steps with your community association attorney.

The procedures set forth in this article are not found in the Homeowners Association Act (Chapter 720, Florida Statutes). The Homeowners Association Act defers to the governing documents. Any homeowners association wishing to use the procedures found in the condominium statute should amend its bylaws accordingly.

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