Recent legislation paved the way for Florida community associations to implement electronic voting. In previous posts, we discussed how electronic voting will allow community associations to work within the digital space, that many new rules and regulations will affect how associations hold elections, and what must be done for them to be conducted legally. Recently, the Department of Business and Professional Regulations released new proposed administrative rules governing electronic voting for condominiums. The proposed cite for these rules are Florida Administrative Code 61B-23.00211 and 61B-23.0021.
While the rules are not final yet, as it stands, the following must occur before a condominium association may utilize an online voting system:
- the board of directors must adopt a resolution authorizing online voting;
- the board of directors must notify the unit owners of the meeting at which the resolution will be considered at least 14 days before considering the resolution;
- the resolution must set a deadline at least 14 days before the election or vote before which unit owners must consent in writing to online voting;
- the resolution must establish procedures by which unit owners can give their written consent to opt in or out of online voting; and
- the resolution must provide that prior to each election where online voting will be utilized, that all unit owners receive notice of their option to use the online voting system.
Once authorized by board resolution, the electronic voting system imust provide:
- the unit owner with a vote receipt, including the vote cast, date, time, and user identification;
- a record the association must keep for one year identifying the vote cast, date, time;
- authentication of the unit owner’s identification;
- authentication that the vote was not altered in transit; and
- for board elections, removal of all identifying information from the ballot ensuring owner anonymity.
Condominium associations utilizing electronic voting for elections must also ensure the first notice of the date of the election discloses the procedures and deadline for a unit owner to consent to online voting, and include a notice of debts for any unit owner who is delinquent in payments to the association. Finally, condominium associations must ensure the votes are not available to the association prior to the scheduled election. Failure to comply with the above renders the election void.
Homeowner associations would not be bound by these rules, but we anticipate that changing moving forward. We also expect the language and implementation of these regulations to evolve as they are reviewed and applied by attorneys and legislators. No matter how the final proposal is worded, these rules and regulations are important for the implementation of electronic voting in community associations.
The problem we foresee for associations is finding and vetting vendors who offer voting systems to ensure they adhere to the strict regulations. We will keep an eye on the state of these regulations and be the first to inform Florida community associations of changes to the law.