Board Elections May Be Challenged
Most boards operate for years holding annual elections and seating new members without much trouble. Then, out of the blue a rowdy member challenges an election. Two members are competing for the same position and board stability is shaken.
Boards can combat faulty election procedures by learning how the board is expected to conduct an election. Start by reviewing association bylaws and follow your own procedures a faithfully as possible. Consult your attorney if you have questions.
If the board is anticipating a close, controversial election, it may want to appoint an election inspector or inspectors to examine proxies or ballots, establish the quorum, and count the votes. The inspector should be objective. However, if the community is divided by split factions, the board may want to appoint an inspector from each faction, as well as a neutral inspector so the vote of the inspectors will not be tied. If opposing factions wish to have legal counsel present, the board should ask the attorneys to jointly address inspectors' questions rather than serve as inspectors themselves. If disagreements between the attorneys are unresolvable, the inspectors will make the final decision. Even then, the matter may end up in front of a judge.
Usually, members will challenge an election because they do not believe it is fair. Judges have the discretion to determine the fairness of voting procedures. A judge can order a new election if the judge determines that a member's right to vote was denied. However, a judge will not order a new election in all instances. For example, if the board fails to provide proper election notice, inadvertently leaves required information off of a proxy, or fails to follow specific election procedures, the election may still be upheld if the judge determines that there is no substantial denial of a member’s right to vote and that overall the procedure was fair and in the best interest of the community.
Call Williams & Strohm if you have questions about your board elections. 614-228-0207
Charles T. Williams
Charles T. Williams is the founder and a principal in the firm. A native of Columbus, Ohio, and a veteran of the Vietnam war, Mr. Williams earned his law degree from Boston College Law School. He is widely recognized as one of Ohio’s foremost attorneys practicing homeowner association law and condominium law. Read Charles T. Williams's full bio.