The Democratic Way Electing New Board Members

The Democratic Way

The annual election is probably the biggest event in the administrative life of the condominium, homeowners or cooperative community. For board members and residents alike, it's their most important performance.

The board members elected that night will be responsible for overseeing the financial stability of the association and the proper maintenance of the property. The resolutions and rules they pass and the attitude with which they serve their fellow residents greatly influence the tenor and feel of life within the community.

Recognizing the significance of board elections and their potential for causing confusion and contentiousness, the Florida Legislature has laid out a comprehensive, detailed protocol for elections under Florida statute.

The Ruling Class

The board of directors of a condominium or cooperative association must be elected by the process prescribed in Chapter 718 or 719, Florida Statutes, and Rule 61B-23.0021 or 61B-75.005 of the Florida Administrative Code, unless your association has 10 or fewer units and has adopted an alternate election procedure in its bylaws.

According to the Department of Business & Professional Regulation’s Election Brochure for Condominium and Cooperative Associations, vacancies on the board can only be filled by electing a new member and the election must be held on the same day and in the same place as the association’s annual meeting. The DBPR recommends that associations refer to the language found in the Condominium and Cooperative Acts, and the Florida Administrative Code, as well as any requirements in the association's documents prior to beginning the election process.

Annual Election Required

Associations must hold a general meeting which includes an election every year within a timeframe set by statute and within their governing documents. HB1195, which passed in 2011, provides some clarification about vacancies on the board.

According to the Richards Law Group, PLLC, based in Ormond Beach, Florida Statute 718.112(2)(d) provides that if at an annual meeting of the association, if a board member’s term would expire, but there are no candidates, the board member’s term will not expire. If there are candidates, and if there are candidates equal to or less than the number of board positions expiring at the meeting, all candidates shall become members of the board, upon the close of the meeting. If there are any board positions that are not filled, an affirmative vote by a majority of the board (even if there is just one person on the board and no quorum) shall be used to fill the openings on the board.

A board candidate must be eligible to serve on the board when the candidate submits the required notice of intent to serve 40 days before the election for the candidate’s name to be on the ballot.

According to Attorney Eric Glazer of Glazer & Associates, P.A., with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Naples, sixty (60) days before the annual meeting, the first notice of election must be sent to unit owners announcing the date, time and place of the election meeting. Forty (40) days before the meeting is the cut-off for any candidate to submit their intention to run for a board position; 35 days is the cut-off for submitting a candidate information sheet; 34 to 14 days before the meeting requires submission of a second notice sent to unit owners with candidate information sheets, the ballot, inner and outer envelopes. The ballots will list the names of the candidates in alphabetical order.

No Proxies or Floor Nominees

Florida law does not allow proxy voting and nominating committees are prohibited by statute. Search committees may be used to encourage individuals to run for the board; however, they have no authority to nominate anyone to run. Candidates seeking office must file a notice of intent.

New HOA rules regarding elections took effect in July 2013, Glazer notes. In an HOA, as of July 1st, if the election process allows candidates to be nominated in advance of the meeting, the association is not required to allow nominations at the meeting. An election is not required unless more candidates are nominated than vacancies exist.

Proxies may not be used during the annual meeting elections, and individuals are elected to the board by written ballot or voting machine. “Ballots, envelopes and other items used in the election process must be maintained among the association’s official records for at least one year from the date of the election to which these items relate,” states the DBPR elections guide.

Your absence from your unit cannot be used as an excuse for not voting. “In Florida's condos and co-ops, you are not permitted to use proxies in the election of your board,” affirms Kenneth Direktor, a shareholder attorney in the West Palm Beach-based law firm of Becker & Poliakoff. “You are required to use the dual envelope system and mail in your vote.” By definition, a proxy is a designation allowing someone else of your choosing to vote in the election.

Direktor, who chairs the firm’s Community Association Practice Group, explains how the dual-envelope system works in the Sunshine State. “You are not required to put your name on the ballot. They are supposed to be put in an inner unmarked envelope, which is then placed in an outer envelope on which you are required to have your unit number and signature. This allows us to verify that you're casting your own vote but at the same time allow you to cast your vote secretly,” he says.

What About in an HOA?

Unlike condominium associations, where the election procedures are almost entirely regulated by the statute in the administrative code, Direktor says that in homeowners associations, the election procedure is usually governed by the community’s own bylaws.

In some homeowners associations, therefore, limited proxies can still be used in connection with the vote to elect directors, he says.

“In many homeowners’ associations you still are required to allow people to nominate themselves from the floor at the annual meeting. However, based upon recent amendments to the HOA statute, there is an increasing number of homeowners’ associations amending their documents to make their election procedure more like condominiums so that they give notice to everyone well ahead of time so that those who want to put their name in ahead of time as a candidate have an opportunity to do so,” says Direktor.

Thus, you can “make sure that there’s a cut off for nominations so that they know well in advance of the annual meeting whether or not they even have enough candidates to have an election. They also require the use of ballots just like they do in condominium associations so that everyone who votes for the board has to cast his or her own vote. There has been, I suspect it will continue, to be a continued migration in homeowners associations toward the condominium style of election,” Direktor says.

Felons Not Welcome

New laws went into effect prohibiting delinquent owners and those with a criminal background from participating in board business, including elections. Florida Statute 720.306(9) now states that any owner who is more than 90 days delinquent in making payment of any assessment or fine, or has been convicted of a felony in Florida (with some exceptions) is not eligible to sit on the board.

Glazer notes that ineligible candidates include any person, who has been suspended or removed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation; a person who is more than 90 days delinquent in the payment of any fee, fine or special or regular assessments, and any person who has been convicted of any felony in this state or in a United States District or Territorial Court, or who has been convicted of any offense in another jurisdiction that would be considered a felony if committed within this state, unless such felon's civil rights has been restored for no less than five years.

Who, What, When, Where & Why

Association bylaws set forth the number of people who sit on the board, who may serve and for how long, according to the DBPR guide. “In condominiums, the terms of all members shall expire at the annual meeting, and such board members may stand for re-election unless otherwise permitted by the bylaws. In the event that the bylaws permit staggered terms of no more than two years, and upon approval of the majority of the total voting interests, the association board members may serve staggered 2-year terms. Timeshare condominiums are exempt from this provision,” the guide says.

Also in condominiums of more than 10 units, co-owners may not serve together on the same board unless they own more than one unit or there are not enough people eligible to serve.

A quorum is not required to hold an election; however, at least 20 percent of the eligible voters must cast ballots in order for the election to be valid.

Counting the Votes and Certification

The ballot must list all eligible candidates in alphabetical order by last name and cannot say which ones are incumbents. No write-in candidates are permitted.

In lieu of the dual ballot system cited earlier, elections in Florida may also be conducted by voting machine. An association may also use alternate methods different from those in the DBPR guide—as long as a majority of the total voting interests of the community approve.

Once the board members are elected, Florida law requires that after 90 days, the fledgling or veteran board member must certify in writing to the secretary “that he or she has read and understands the governing documents, and will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility.” A board member can also submit satisfactory completion of the education curriculum administered by a division-approved educational provider.

What about contesting the election or recalling the membership? The recall procedure in Florida is very complicated and difficult to accomplish although a written recall process is offered by the division to unit owners under Section 718.112(2)(j) of the Florida Statutes. As of July 1, 2013, in both condos and HOAs, a board member who is recalled has the right to challenge that decision by filing an arbitration petition, Glazer states. Additionally, a recall petition may no longer be filed within the first 60 days following an election and within 60 days of an upcoming election. Finally, any arbitration challenge to the election process must be filed within the first sixty (60) days following the election or the election results stand. For more information on the recall process, you can visit

The best solution might be to wait out the board member or board members’ terms and urge other owners to help you vote them out. Or better yet, run for the board yourself.

Debra A. Estock is managing editor of The South Florida Cooperator. Freelance writer Steve Cutler contributed to this article.

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  • on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 5:02 AM
    Can a five member Board operate for three or more meeting with just four members at the meeting. If there is a vacancy at this time, does it require an election to fill the vacancy.
  • Can a Florida condo association continue electing Board member to three year terms?
  • At the homeowners meeting does the board have to tell the homeowners the number of votes received by all that ran for the board. Can we ask that the ballots be recoup Ted if we question the results.
  • Can a current board member advertise his re-election or telling owners who to vote for knocking each and every owner's door? also bad mouthing some members in the list. is this legal? Please advise. email if possible please. Thanks
  • When someone is appointed to a co-op HOA board of directors to fill an unexpired term does that give him the remainder of that term or does he have to run for election at the next annual meeting. Does the by-laws have to specifically address this scenario, if so, does the by-law wording supercede the statute. Could you please provide the statute that addresses this situation?
  • The relevant Statute is 720.306 (9)(c), a cop-op director may be appointed by the Board, the director will serve for the unexpired term. The matter should be covered in the Associations By-laws which take priority. It is recommended the By-laws require any mid-term vacancy filled by the Board should be subject of a vote of Members at the next annual meeting
  • Our HOA just had our annual meeting to vote for 3 open positions on our Board. One of the elected members has already served 3 consecutive 2-year terms, which is in violation of our Bylaws limiting Board members to 2 consecutive terms. Although receiving the least amount of votes of the 3 new members, she managed to get herself elected President-again. Is there no way to get her removed from the Board?
  • We have requirement for 3 Board members; for upcoming annual HOA meeting, we have 3 candidates. Are the homeowners actually required to fill out a ballot and vote, or do the 3 candidates automatically become the new Board members. This is in California, Los Angeles County. Thank you.
  • A Board member sold their unit and do not live in this area nor do they own any property in the complex. However the person stayed own the board. It seems the person cannot vote so how do they keep their place on the Board?
  • I would like to know, if there is an election of a condo board and three people run for two open seats. When the election is over and the seats are filled and now there is a board member that resigns. Does the third person who received some votes now fill that position? Or does the board have the right to appoint someone else on their own?
  • Can a homeowner whom has 200 units in the same condo complex vote 200 times?
  • I would like to get the answer to a question comment made by Maria Senior on Tuesday, April 30,2019 4:47 PM It looks as if the most logical thing to do would be to automatically appoint the 3rd. Candidate since in all fairness to that person , he or she must have received some votes and this was the will of the owners, Very confusing,,,,,,,,,,Thanks.........Mario P>S> In our building,we have 58 Units and we had elections in 2019 for one year terms to fill 7 Board Members. There were 9 Candidates. 2 resigned and 1 Sold his unit. Now there is only 6 members. I was the last one to be eligible. in order to bring this board back to 7. Please advise
  • in our upcoming election of board members in our cooperative, because of a resignation during an unexpired term, there will be two three-year positions, and one one-year position. (We have a Board of seven and staggered positions) What procedure do we use for the different term positions? Do we have the candidates declare which term they are running for, or do we give the one-year position to the candidate winning with the least votes? or some other procedure?
  • In a Condo Assoc. election, can owners not going to the annual meeting have an owner friend take their ballot (in the proper manner of envelopes) to the meeting and be counted, or must they send it in to the property manager?
  • how will i find the answers to these questions by robert zito about elections ballot have an owner friend take the ballot in the proper manner and were told that law does not allow that.the owner must personally deliver the ballot either by mail or personal delivery it is in arbitration now because they rejected the ballots based on this procedure i would appreciate a response as the arbitrator will decide the case in 10 days. thank you
  • Please help! A candidate died three days before our condo election here in Pompano Beach and the BOARD did not announce the vote count until two days after the election. The board decided to fill the spot with the winning deceased resident with his wife. Shouldn't it be filled with the candidate with the next highest number of votes?? Thank you!
  • Annual meeting coming up . 4 openings and 4 people running. President is one of them which no one wants. How do we get him out. Can we nominate someone from floor which we know could get in or do we have to put up with him for another 2 yrs? This is a HOA
  • We just had our board election. after the election a signed election result count breakdowm form has to be posted. also do we have the right to ask for all the unit numbers in building that voted in election.
  • During the annual meeting vote for board members is it true that 5 directors are elected and then those 5 directors decide who is President, Vice President treasurer etc.?
  • in a three member board of directors if the president resigns can the remaining two appint some one from the community to fill the position???
  • Can a current condo assoc. board member recommend supporting, by vote, a particular candidate when there is more than one candidate running for election of one seat.
  • A resident in my 51 home HOA community submitted his intention to run by email to the Nominating Committee. It was sent before the cut off date. They say they never received the email even though the resident has proof it was sent on time. The instructions we received said that it has to be sent by a certain date, not received by that date. Does he have the right to be on the ballot?
  • Can someone educate me on how to handle a tie in an election? We are a co-op. 5 owners running for 3 spots. The votes were 27,25, 22,22 and 11. There was a tie for the 3rd spot. Do we do a run off election?
  • Can a homeowner announce his/her request to run for a board vacancy at the annual meeting, or is the 40 day advance notice a must.
  • As a voting condo owner do I have the right to see the ballots and check the totals in Florida HOA?
  • Good day. I live in Lauderdale West part time and would like some clarification regarding elections that took place yesterday. First of all there were proxy forms included in the ballot packets and I was under the understanding that proxies were not allowed. The ballots were a a list of seven names which you had to choose five from, but no positions were included. They figured out who won and then the new board nominated from that list for positions and voted amongst themselves I do not understand how you can choose people but not what position you feel they would be good at. I am having issues with the board as the president who got elected last night is vindictive and threatens homeowners if she doesn’t like you and thinks that people that come and go should get less priority.
  • Are you in a COA or HOA? You are correct. Proxies are not allowed in general elections. Furthermore, the only thing you can put in the ballot envelope is the ballot, nothing else. You can therefore challenge the election, and it will be invalidated. This is also a violation. You can reconfirm this with the Florida Ombudsman for COAs: They also have an office in Fort Lauderdale. You can also go to the DBPR (Department of Business & Professional Regulation) website for the Division of Condos, Time Shares and Mobile homes to obtain a complaint form. You can also email the attorney for your association, and make them aware of the violation. This Division enforces 3 provisions under Chapter 718: access to records, financials, and elections. If you don't know who your association attorney or registered agent is, you can find that on
  • This is the situation we had our annual meeting we have five positions on the board we had six candidates the votes were counted the top five candidates were announced at that time one candidate withdrew his name does that make it where the six person automatically gets slid into that spot this is the issue we are trying to decide any help would be appreciated thank you this is in the state of Florida so does the Florida condo laws follow this
  • My HOA requires all ballots to be dropped off with a non board member. I thought the ballots cannot be handled by a non board member? And wouldn't that make the vote invalid?
  • Our co-op's annual meeting is in March. We have a 5 member board, one member died this last year with 1.5 years remaining on his term. We appointed a past board member to fill the term until out annual meeting. We also have 2 other board member terms expiring in March. How do we handle the one year vacancy vs the three year vacancies?