HOA Electronic Voting: How to Digitize Your Voting Process

Date Published : Apr-02-2024

Written By : Abigail Guevara

To say we are living in a digital age is no understatement. Did you know that as of 2023 there are over 310 million smartphone users in the U.S. alone?

People are using their electronic devices—cellphones, tablets, laptops—for everything from arming security in their homes to voting. Yes, even casting votes.

Table of contents

This is just one reason why modern HOAs are digitizing their voting process for their communities.

Let’s take a look at the traditional HOA voting process; how it can be digitized and why your HOA will want to go this route.

Traditional HOA voting can be a tedious process 

When it’s time for community members to cast their votes regarding various agenda items, the HOA board, possibly with the assistance of property management, starts the process of organizing the vote and all things related to it.

The traditional voting process may look something like this:

Refer to HOA governing documents

The HOA board and property management may refer to the HOA guiding documents, the contents of which will be different for each HOA.

The guiding documents include:

  • CC&Rs
  • Bylaws
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • State laws

Together, these documents guide the HOA board and property management about what is required to conduct a vote with members/homeowners as well as what the HOA is permitted to conduct the vote.

These important documents cover topics like timeframes to make members aware of an upcoming vote, if voting by proxy is permissible and how many voting members are required to carry out a vote that is valid to make a decision. This is also called making quorum.

Prepare content

Now, the board will need to make copies of those documents, taking excerpts of them, so they can be included as reference documents in the  voting package that will be provided for each home in the community.

If you have hundreds or thousands of homes in the community, then that adds up to thousands of copies.

Also, a notice needs to be drafted pertaining to the item voters will address. Copies will need to be made of this too—another large copying job.

Finally, include copies of the voting ballot as well as copies of the proxy ballot in case a member cannot attend the meeting to vote in person and has another member cast their vote for them.

The cost per copy and waste of paper really starts to add up!

Communicate

According to HOA guiding documents homeowners need to be informed of an upcoming vote in advance. Depending on the state where the HOA is located, advance notice must be done anywhere from 14 to 28 days in advance.

This may require an announcement in everyone’s mailbox.

Voting day

Sometimes, members can pass by the HOA office and deliver their vote in advance if permissible, but usually there is a one-time designated voting day and there must be enough scrutineers to  oversee the casting of votes and then counting the ballots. They must count:

  • Voting members who attended the meeting
  • Ballots
  • Proxy ballots
  • Spoiled ballots

This can take hours, sometimes going well into the night, depending on how many members there are in the community and how long it takes the scrutineers to reconcile the numbers.

Then finally, the voting outcome can be announced.

 As you can see the traditional way to cast a vote in HOA communities is a highly manual and time-consuming process. It takes a lot of volunteer time, and money for resources.

The average cost to organize a single meeting is $500.

Volunteer time and resources all add up to money spent, in what can be considered wasteful ways.

That’s where digitizing the voting process can make a positive difference. But where do you start?

Start by getting clear on your HOA objectives

What is it that your HOA wants to achieve in the voting process? This is important is clarify because then you’ll know what online voting solutions to pursue.

Instead of just doing what has always been done, get your HOA committee together to discuss some of the pain points your HOA experiences when it comes to voting. This will clarify what your objectives are.

Common HOA voting objectives include:  

  • Staying current: HOAs don’t want to appear dated and stale. Members don’t want to feel like they are living in a community that isn’t progressive or stuck in the past.  
  • Saving time: It takes hours to print and deliver all the voting materials. Delivering the voting package from door to door also sucks up so much valuable time.
  • Saving money: It’s so costly to print all the documents and ballots and wastes paper.
  • Making quorum: Getting homeowners out to meetings and voting is one of the biggest challenges HOAs face. Is your HOA any different?  
  • Providing privacy: No one wants to believe that intimidation can happen in an HOA community, but sometimes it does, and it can influence voting. Homeowners deserve to have their votes kept private, which makes for a happier, equal community.

Once your HOA board understands the struggles the board, property managers and homeowners face with the traditional voting process then you’ll be able to address them with an electronic voting process.

When you decide to explore the electronic voting process, consider how you can digitize the process.

10 steps to digitize your HOA voting process

Transforming your manual, paper-based HOA voting process is easier than you think. Make sure to check that your state approves online voting before you move forward.

Here are some steps you can take to move to electronic voting.

1.     Research electronic voting platforms

Electronic, digital or online voting software platforms have been around since 2000. It’s been two decades since it was first used, so the method has been tried, tested and proven.

There are various vendors to choose from.

For example, Condo Control, a national vendor of online property management solutions, including e-voting and has 98 overall average user rating for property management products.

Once you share your HOAs objectives with the vendor then they will introduce you to online solutions to help you achieve your particular HOA objectives as well as offer you a demonstration so you can ask more questions and see how easy the platform can work for you.

2.     Get approvals

Once you’ve narrowed down the vendor your HOA will choose. Get approvals from your HOA board and as well as budget approvals to purchase the online platform.

3.     Implement the software

Your vendor will help you implement the software to your website as well as give you access to their app (application) so e-voting can be accessed by any electronic device.

You may choose to continue a hybrid voting approach with both paper voting as well, so that homeowners who are slower to move online, can still vote in person.

4.     Add eligible voters to the online voting platform

Populate a list of eligible voter names with their contact information. The system will prompt you for information. The vendor can also do this for you.

5.     e-Mail your notice to vote with attachments

Use the software solution to send an email to eligible voters informing them of an upcoming vote, with details of time, date, location if required.

You can also attach digital documents of all the reference materials voters will need in order to understand what the vote is all about and to vote confidently.

6.     Open the vote online

When the voting window is opened. Send an email to voting recipients with a link that will direct them to the online screens to cast their vote.

The options will be preloaded by your HOA or property manager.

Members can vote in advance of the deadline if they need to, so you’ll always make quorum.

7.     Send e-reminders

You’ll see who hasn’t cast their vote yet and you can send a quick reminder by email, or text to homeowners to cast their vote before the deadline.

8.     Automate vote count

As votes are submitted online they are automatically counted in real-time. So you can see accumulatively how many votes you have and how many are still needed to arrive at a decision.

9.     Announce outcome online and virtually

On the final voting day, you can hold a virtual meeting  so everyone can attend the meeting online; even those who can’t physically attend a meeting, to discuss all matters at hand.   

Condo Control can even provide a moderator for you to help facilitate the meeting.

Once the voting window closes homeowners will no longer be able to access the voting link to cast their vote.  The tally for the vote will already be available for you, as it counts in real-time and you can announce outcomes of the vote immediately.   

10.   Stored responses on secure database

The details of the history of the vote are stored on a secure data base and you can upload and save any documents that accompanied the vote in an online file library for future reference.

These ten steps will help you move your manual voting process to HOA electronic voting. The software management company you choose should assist you every step of the way. When you move to online voting, you’ll experience all the reasons why digitizing your voting process is a good thing.

Let’s explore some of those benefits now.

Benefits of electronic voting supports your HOA objectives  

After considering your HOA’s objectives you will find that moving from a paper-based voting system to a digital online voting system could be the solution your HOA needs to modernize and make voting more efficient.

HOAs are embracing a digital voting process because it’s a strategy that supports their overall voting objectives that were clarified from the beginning.

Here’s how e-voting supports HOA voting objectives.

Stay current

As noted earlier, smartphone usage is only increasing. By 2040 it’s expected that more than 364 million smartphone users.

Number of smartphone users in the United States from 2023 to 2040 (in millions)

Source: Statista 2024

Community members are used to doing so many things through their electronic devices–laptops, tablets and cellphones– like ordering food or tracking their children’s whereabouts. The options are almost boundless.

So, the idea of having to show up in person to vote for someone or something in their HOA community is antiquated. Especially, when they may already be voting online with other organizations.

Providing your community with a convenient method of voting shows your HOA is listening to the community and is not stuck in the past.

Save money

The cost of everything is going up. With online voting you’ll save money on printing ballots and supporting documents, as well as postage. That adds up to hundreds to thousands of dollars over months, and tens of thousands over years.  

Conversely, the one cost related to electronic voting is the software that will allow you to vote, meet virtually, store important documents and so much more.

Save time

Your HOA is composed of caring volunteers who donate their time to make sure their community operates at its best. However, they don’t have all the time in the world to commit to tedious administrative work, especially when they could devote their attention to more pressing projects.

Total time spent governing community associations in the United States amounts to 98,500,000 volunteer hours/year. How much of that time is wasted on making copies for a manual voting process that so many members don’t show up to?

Electronic voting is more efficient. Time consumed with collecting paper ballots, scrutinizing them and counting them and then backtracking to find any errors along the way is eliminated. It makes meetings shorter and frees up time for voting members, property managers and the board.

Make quorum

Increased voter participation is inevitable with e-voting. The convenience it offers to voting members leads to more people engaged and voting, which leads to making quorum and ultimately decisions being made and action being taken.

Increase privacy and security

 With paper proxy, someone else always knows how another member has voted. Electronic voting allows homeowners to cast their own votes in complete privacy, without the need for proxy. Members can vote from anywhere as long as they have their device with them. This allows everyone to vote with confidentiality.

Additionally, the vote is private, and the data secure. Only those with permissions on the platform can see the vote. The tally is saved and auditable for future reference.

Digitizing HOA voting pays rewards

Electronic voting is becoming more popular and it’s not hard to digitize your HOA voting process. Do your research on possible vendors, narrow down at least two that you think will be suitable and reach out to start a discussion and get your questions answered. Don’t be afraid to ask for a demonstration before you commit to anything.

Your investment in electronic voting now will lead to greater gains and help your HOA reach its full potential as it helps your community:

  • Benefit financially
  • Improve time management
  • Increase voter engagement  
  • Feel confident about their vote
  • Conveniently vote remotely

Embracing technology as part of your HOA voting process enhances community living and positions it for a successful future.

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