Florida’s Republican primary is just a few days away and many, if not most, of the community associations in our state are in the midst of their own ROC board elections.
What better time to remind unit owners in condominiums and cooperatives about the procedures that must be followed if the association wishes to verify information on the outer envelope (which contains the inner envelope in which the completed ballot has been placed).
Florida Administrative Code Section 61B-23.0021(10)(b) describes the process for condominium associations and FAC Section 61B-75.005(10)(b) details the process for cooperative associations. These sections provide that an association that wishes to verify outer envelope information in advance of the annual meeting may do so as follows:
- The board designates a committee that does NOT include current board members, officers, candidates for the board in this election, or the spouses of any of these persons–this is defined as being "impartial" in these two FAC sections
- This impartial committee may then hold a meeting to verify the outer envelope information.
- This meeting must be noticed in the same manner as board meetings and must be open to all unit owners
At the meeting of this impartial committee, the signature and unit identification on the outer envelope must be checked against the list of qualified voters and the voters shall be checked off on the list as having voted.
Any exterior envelope not signed by the eligible voter shall be marked "Disregarded" or with "words of similar import," and any ballots contained in those disregarded envelopes shall NOT be counted.
A few more very important points:
Neither the inner nor the outer envelopes can be opened until the "polls are closed" and no more ballots are being accepted.
The outer envelope must be signed by the eligible voter–simply sticking an address label with the eligible voter’s name on the outer envelope–without some evidence of that eligible voter’s signature–is NOT sufficient
Finally, and perhaps most important, any meeting of the impartial committee to verify the outer envelope information MUST be held on the day of the election. ROCs that allow this committee to verify these outer envelopes prior to the day of the election are violating Florida law.
I assume that the drafters of these FAC sections realized that not allowing the impartial committee to meet until the day of the election would result in some very long annual meetings–and I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the "entertainment" at many resident owned communities while the envelopes were being opened and the ballots counted!
Our next four weeks will be very busy with annual meetings and seminars in Bradenton, Lake Placid, Bonita Springs, and Venice. We hope to see you at one of those seminars–please contact Karen (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kathy (email@example.com) if you haven’t already rsvp’d and want to attend one of those events.