Condos, HOAs and remote voting

David J. TecsonPrincipal, Chuhak & Tecson, P.C.

The evolving COVID-19 pandemic is unusual to say the least, and it has forced the implementation of many operational changes for condominium and community associations. 

As the end of the 2020 calendar year approaches, community associations now need to manage annual elections, which are proving to be a challenge, particularly for association boards and property managers. Since every set of bylaws is unique to its respective association, everyone involved with election procedures needs to be aware that there are some common themes for guiding boards and managers through these times. 

Some procedures to consider for handling voting include proceeding in the new normal, delaying meetings and implementing new electronic methods. Any combination of the options listed below may be workable, depending on what your community’s documents require.

Three options Illinois Community Associations should consider

1.    Hold “COVID-conscious” annual meetings as scheduled.

  • Emphasize proxy voting.
  • If the meeting is in person and on location, the area must allow for social distancing for all attendees. 
  • Consider video streaming the meeting so that floor nominations can be heard and the remote attendees can participate. Also allow drop-off balloting during meeting time.
  • Consider drop-boxes for ballots so that owners can fill out their ballots while social distancing. 
  • Extend the meeting duration to prevent crowding.
  • Distribute rules for electronic or remote voting.
  • Allow for reasonable accommodations if an owner suggests it is necessary based on their health situation.

2. Delaying annual meetings

  • According to Illinois’ General Not For Profit Corporation Act (NFPCA), directors will remain in office until the election is held, not at the expiration of their term. 
  • Assume that it is reasonable to delay annual meetings as the statehouse remains silent regarding this topic.
  • NFPCA 107.05(b) provides a stopgap that allows owners to petition for a vote to be held if not called per the terms of the bylaws. This applies to Condominiums (Condos), Common Interest and Community Associations (CICAA) and Not For Profit (NFP) properties, thereby creating a theoretical “safety valve.”

3. Electronic voting rule changes

  • CICAA and NFP properties have flexible timelines. Condos have a long and precise timeline for voting and balloting, rule proposal and passage.
  • All associations may pass rules (unless the bylaws prohibit it) that allow for remote or electronic balloting in owner elections and most may accomplish this through changes to their rules.  
  • Remote or electronic ballots usually mean no more proxies.
  • Condos must pass rules regarding balloting at least 120 days before the election and before being implemented. All things considered, this would result in up to between a 150 and 180-day delay in holding the election with proper notice and candidate submission timelines. 
  • Condo voting rules require notice periods, candidate submission cutoffs and balloting timelines on strict notice periods, which are noted in Section 18 of the Condominium Property Act.
  • Balloting could be via email form, online survey or using the balloting online software called SAS. 

Chuhak & Tecson’s Condominium & Common Interest Community Association attorneys will be happy to answer your questions.