September 26, 2021

Volume XI, Number 269

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September 24, 2021

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Five Steps to Successful Trustee Elections

Step One – Start Early. The time to start working on your next election is the day after your last election.

  • Make notes for next year. What worked well? What could be done better?

  • Clearly note the new (and existing) trustee terms in the minutes. Too often trustee terms get confusing, especially when there are appointments to vacant positions.

  • Save the draft minutes so they can be located and approved at the next annual meeting.

  • Consider amendments that will make the election process easier: electronic voting, electronic notice, quorum reduction, absentee ballots, eliminating double ballot procedures. Get those amendments approved and recorded at least three months before your next annual meeting.

Step Two – Make a Plan. Pick a date for your annual meeting which allows you at least three months for planning. Then work backwards and calendar important dates (based on 50+ units):

  • Send out notice/ballots at least 14 days (but not more than 60 days) before your meeting. If you are relying on the mail to deliver and return ballots you will want much more than 14 days.

  • Send out call for candidates at least 30 days (but not more than 60 days) before you send out your notice/ballots.

  • Set your nomination deadline for at least 14 days after you send out your call for candidates.

  • Send out standing notices at least 30 days before the annual meeting. It is important that you work with legal counsel on this to ensure notices are sent appropriately.

  • Example: For an annual meeting scheduled for July 31, the following would be reasonable: call for candidates goes out June 4, nomination deadline of June 20, standing notices go out July 1, and notice/ballots go out July 5.

Step Three – Review Radburn Requirements and Governing Documents. Nobody wants to read the Radburn Law or Radburn Regulations – mainly because they raise more questions than they answer – yet you must! You should also read your master deed/declaration and by-laws keeping in mind that many of these provisions may be superseded by Radburn. Ask yourself the following:

  • Does your association have any affordable units? If you do and there are fewer affordable units than market units, you must set aside a seat for election by owners of affordable units.

  • Does your association have fewer than 50 units? If so, you may have relaxed standards for your trustee election.

  • Have you carefully reviewed the terms for trustees? Any trustee seat filled as a vacancy must be up for election at your annual meeting even if your by-laws say the appointed trustee serves the remaining term. If there are different terms available, candidates must be able to select the seat for which they are running in the nomination form and that selection must be reflected on the ballot.

  • What type of voting is permitted and does the ballot comply? How are ballots being returned?

  • Have you reviewed your members not in good standing to ensure they receive a standing notice at least 30 days before the meeting? Has the Board considered a policy to waive small amounts that have been sitting on the account for a while?

Step Four – Prepare Election Materials. Even if you have already gone through an election with Radburn Regulations, it’s worth a review with the association’s attorney to ensure all procedures are in place. Prepare the following well in advance so you can meet your schedule and avoid last minute surprises:

  • Call for candidates/nomination form.

  • Standing notices (legal counsel should send for those in collection; management must send for those not in collection).

  • Notice of meeting.

  • Ballots (anonymous voting; write in lines for each vacancy; candidates in alpha order by last name).

  • Sample ballot.

  • Meeting agenda.

Step Five – Election Day Details. Pull your successful election over the line by ensuring you have the following ready:

  • Judge’s certification

  • Tally sheets for judges

  • List of members who are not in good standing

  • Unit owner list in address order

  • Standing notices sent by association and legal counsel

  • Minutes from prior annual meeting

  • Plan for counting ballots publicly

  • Packaging materials to store your election materials – all of them. Don’t throw anything away. Seal and store with delinquency list, judges tally sheets, and all other materials for the election.

COPYRIGHT © 2021, STARK & STARKNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 256
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About this Author

Mary W. Barrett, Stark, Homeowners Associations Lawyer, Housing Cooperatives Lawyer
Shareholder

Mary W. Barrett, Shareholder, has been practicing in Stark & Stark’s Community Associations Group since 1998. She concentrates her practice in the representation of homeowners associations, condominium associations, and cooperatives throughout New Jersey. 

Ms. Barrett assists community associations with contract preparation and review, policy resolutions and rule creation, amendments to governing documents, covenant enforcement, trustee elections, governing document interpretation, assessment collection, transition, loans and financing,...

609-219-7408
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