Condo Media - November 2020 - 10

Asked & Answered

Electronic Voting
Risks, Rewards, and Possible Issues
Our board is considering hiring a vendor
to conduct online voting for the election
of board members, but some residents
question whether this is an appropriate use
of association funds. They want the board
to use paper ballots, as we have in the past.
If the board moves forward with the online
voting plan, what risks will we incur and
what problems should we anticipate?

Before you start laying plans for online voting, you
should determine whether your community has the
authority to conduct an electronic election. Mark
Einhorn, a partner in Marcus, Errico, Emmer &
Brooks, PC, says the odds are it does not.
Condominium statutes in approximately 20 states
allow online voting, according to industry estimates.
Vermont is on that list, but Massachusetts is not.
Your community's governing documents might
authorize electronic voting, but Einhorn says that
is unlikely. Most documents, except for those drafted
within the past two or three years, require that votes
be cast in person or via proxy, he notes.
What problems should you anticipate? The obvious
one: If you conduct this election electronically without the authority to do so, the owners who object to
the process may challenge the result. But that's
not your only legal risk, Einhorn says.
Even if the electronic voting process isn't challenged, the board members elected by it won't be
serving legally, and any decisions they make could be
challenged on that basis, Einhorn cautions. That's a
legal morass you don't want to create. If you proceed
with the electronic voting, he says, "you proceed at
your own risk." His advice: if you want to hold online
elections, amend your documents to create the authority you need.
There are many good reasons to do that, Jared
McNabb, CMCA, PCAM, general manager of Brook
House Condominium Trust in Brookline, says.
Primary among them:
■ It is easier for owners to vote electronically, which
increases the likelihood that they will. Online voting

10

CONDOMEDIA November 2020

has significantly increased participation in
Brook House elections, McNabb notes.
■ Electronic voting is easier for associations to
manage. There are no paper ballots to print and
distribute and online votes are tabulated automatically. Paper ballots have to be counted by hand.
■ Electronic votes are less prone to human error and
less susceptible to fraud than paper ballots, which
can be altered more easily.
■ Electronic voting is also more likely to be perceived as
fair, McNabb says, because a third-party vendor managing the process has no vested interest in the election
and no motivation to tamper with the results.
"I really don't understand why owners would
object," McNabb says. The board member posing
this question notes concerns about cost, but paper
balloting also has costs, McNabb points out - the cost
of printing and mailing the ballots, for example, and
possibly renting space in which to hold the election
if the community doesn't have an on-site option.
Access to a computer might be a concern for some
owners, but that is easily addressed, McNabb says,
by making a laptop available in the management office
for owners who need it.
While offering both online and paper balloting
might be reasonable during the transition to electronic voting, McNabb agrees, he doesn't recommend
a hybrid approach as a long-term solution. Parallel
voting systems can be confusing, he says, and "they
create more opportunity for double voting. I think it's
best for communities to pick one system or the other
and stick with it."



Condo Media - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - November 2020

Contents
Condo Media - November 2020 - Cover1
Condo Media - November 2020 - Cover2
Condo Media - November 2020 - Contents
Condo Media - November 2020 - 2
Condo Media - November 2020 - 3
Condo Media - November 2020 - 4
Condo Media - November 2020 - 5
Condo Media - November 2020 - 6
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Condo Media - November 2020 - Cover3
Condo Media - November 2020 - Cover4
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