Lets face it - HOA land is naturally contentious. Owners generally do not like their HOA's, and Boards generally do not like their owners. But if things are really bad...worse than they should be? Picture a large HOA, with half of the owners supporting the current board, and the other half who want to overthrow the entire board. What do you do at the next annual meeting...where there is supposed to be an election for new board members? Elections for board of directors in HOA's, if contested, usually must occur by a secret ballot. This necessarily means that someone, or something, will have to count all those home owner ballots. And remember, this is a large HOA. Normally the protocol is to request a group of volunteer home owners from the association, non-board members, to serve as the election committee. The election committee is then responsible for counting the secret ballots and reporting a result to the HOA.
However, in our example, we have a sharply divided group of home owners, neither trusting each other. There is no home owners can be used to count the ballots given their very different agendas. Even if we did use an election committee to count ballots, the results would certainly be contested. Enter the need for a neutral 3rd party election agent who could count ballots, report results, and be trusted by both groups of home owners. As counsel, I called every senior attorney at most of the major firms that do HOA's in Colorado to see if they had ever used a 3rd party election agent to count ballots. I was shocked to learn that no one had ever had a problem such as the one I have described above and did not have any leads on who I could use for a 3rd party agent. (This is probably because it is more than typical to have less than 10% of the owners at any given HOA annual meeting). Then we searched online, but only found over-charging companies whose primary focus was on municipal elections.
Finally, out of San Diego, California, we stumbled upon a group called The Inspectors Of Election. Not only is this company able to count ballots at an annual meeting (electronically), but they are able to do a host of over services that are extremely important, such as: 1) verify whether an owner is current with their dues prior to counting a casted ballot (owners who have unpaid dues may have their voting rights suspended by the board); 2) send out mail ballots for those owners who are out of state, out of town, or do not want to attend the annual meeting personally or by proxy; and finally 3) host an online voting platform where owners can log in securely, read the bio's about their prospective board members, then cast their vote online from the privacy of their own home. It is truly an amazing company - and the fact that they were so hard to find is the purpose behind this article. The downsides...the people who run the company are extremely rude "know it alls". They lack the knowledge of Colorado HOA law and the necessary people skills to fake it. It is "their way or the highway", meaning they do not take special requests or directives from the board or even HOA counsel. If this company were not so unique, their personality would have cost them the business.
Please contact The Evans HOA Law Firm if you have any questions.