Whether it's an illness outbreak or devastating weather events, no community wants to find itself amid an emergency. However, the impact can be reduced with preparation. That's why HOA online voting is key to residents having a voice.
As coronavirus updates and recommendations are made available, we know you're tirelessly working to give your community a say in the best way to move forward. 
By online voting through a number of platforms, associations can maintain engagement with fellow board members and build trust with residents while practicing social distancing. One of the primary benefits of online voting is the increased likelihood that boards can still operate.
E-ballots can also be counted quickly, accurately and come with built-in safeguards to ensure voter confidentiality and election integrity. And given the economic effects related to COVID-19, online voting can also lower your community's costs by reducing the use of paper, postage and other mailing supplies.

Online Voting: Board Action Items

Now that you have an understanding of the benefits of online voting, you may be asking, 'Now what?'. Here are a few key tips that will encourage you to hop aboard the online voting train.
Make online voting your new normal. Get started by adopting a resolution that includes online voting as an acceptable method.
Research different HOA online voting platforms. A quick Google search pulls up several options like ElectionBuddy, Association Voting, ezVote, eBallot, Vote HOA Now  and a host of others.
Review training videos. There are several demonstrations available for associations to see how the online voting system works.
According to HOALeader.com, the second biggest mistake communities make when running an election is "failing to send out a proxy form before the member meeting." Associations can avoid this mistake by choosing a service that can automatically schedule, collect and digitally count proxy votes.
Distribute an online voting notice. Discuss procedures within your bylaws for the official distribution and best method of delivery. In this instance, email is ideal.
Appoint an online voting inspector. The inspector shouldn't be affiliated with the board and is primarily there to ensure a fair election. In some instances, the judiciary or the covenants committee can act as an inspector. Refer to your governing documents for more information.
Communicate the results and a plan. After getting the final vote, communicate the results with residents and provide an outline of the changes they can expect.

Online Voting: Resident Action Items

Here are the top 3 steps homeowners can take to ensure their vote makes a difference:

Register to Vote. Like in-person voting, your association must sign up with a registration code, email address, name and a strong password to ensure security.

Cast your vote. With a click of a mouse, homeowners can review the online ballot, vote for their interests and submit their vote.

Get confirmation. Once a resident's online vote is submitted, they'll receive an email via the HOA Vote Now platform, confirming that their vote has been counted.

About These Services

Many HOA online voting platforms offer training modules that will help you pull off a seamless election between boards and residents. Here's how they can help:
Full-Service Setup & Management
This includes integrated capabilities of loading voter data, ballot creation, complete with proposals, candidate bios and links to other helpful online voting resources. Other available platforms can disclose voting rules, the date and periods where residents can cast online votes and even how to write in other candidates or proxies.
Vote Management & Email Sends
 Once the initial invitation to residents is deployed, the online voting manager will monitor the results and send follow-up emails to homeowners who haven't voted. Subsequent emails encouraging resident engagement will only be sent to those who haven't participated. 
Voting Results
As mentioned above, plenty of online voting platforms have you covered when it comes to taking the official ballot count in real-time. Once the results are counted, your vote manager will send weekly progress updates. When the online voting officially closes, the final results will be sent to every resident through a secure network. Your association's results will include analytics of how many people voted, a list of residents who voted and the total amount of votes in favor of, or against, the proposal.
Data Cleanup
Whether a resident has moved to another community or simply changed contact information, online voting platforms can help your association check data files, combine and weigh homeowner accounts and even check for duplicates information.
To get the verified results, your preferred platform examines each vote to search for irregularities. If something seems out of place, it will work to ensure that the outcome isn't tampered with and share those official reports with the board or property management company.
Email Notifications
Everything from candidate calls and meeting notices to announcing the official results, these platforms are capable of handling all online voting-related communications to your residents.

Additional Resources

 A lot goes into making an online voting experience run smoothly. Still, there are resources to help you navigate this change. Identify what your board needs to implement online voting in your association and let the experts take care of the rest. You can also check out a number of sample candidate request forms, including basic templates to more robust applications with candidate information and questionnaires.
Homeowner involvement is essential to the success of your community, and HOA online voting is a safe way for boards and residents to ensure that success. Add consistent communication to the mix, and your association will have a solid, engaging voting strategy. 
Wednesday March 25, 2020