Business practices were greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including those of community associations and homeowners' associations (HOAs). Social distancing and safety measures forced community associations to implement virtual meetings and e-voting in order to maintain engagement and continue operations. In fact, the pandemic accelerated change in communities for the better.
Virtual meetings resulted in a number of positive impacts for community associations, including streamlining the meeting process and increasing efficiency. Virtual meetings have increased resident participation by providing flexible scheduling options, often meeting at ideal times, such as evenings, when board members are more likely to be available. In addition, virtual meetings and e-voting have allowed HOAs to more readily achieve quorum.
Early responses to virtual meetings and e-voting showed significant support:
74% said virtual meetings provide the opportunity to hold board meetings during ideal times
54% said virtual meetings and e-voting led to shorter board meetings
51% said virtual meetings and e-voting increased resident participation/engagement
49% said virtual meetings and e-voting increased efficiency for association operations
Source: 2020 CAI survey on Virtual Meetings & Electronic Voting
Support for virtual meetings and e-voting continues in the post-COVID era, despite the return to normal. However, if you’re considering implementing virtual meetings and e-voting, don’t forget the following points:
Review state laws and regulations to ensure compliance.
Depending on which state community association or HOA is located, it is subject to that state's community association or non-profit association laws. As of the pandemic, more than 50% of states (27 states) allowed for e-voting. Other states had "emergency executive orders" put in place to allow for e-voting. During the 2022 and 2023 legislative sessions, many of those executive orders have been voted into law.
Inform residents clearly and transparently about virtual meetings and e-voting.
Associations should provide information about the new process, how to participate, and any changes to voting and meeting rules. Providing residents with training and resources is also crucial, especially for those who are less tech savvy. Additionally, associations should be prepared to handle technical issues, such as internet connectivity problems, and be open to feedback from residents to continuously improve the effectiveness of the system.
If you're still not sure if you are permitted to conduct virtual meetings and electronic voting, take a look at this very useful CAI guide:
As we look ahead to a post-pandemic world, it is important for community associations to recognize the benefits of virtual meetings and e-voting. The pandemic has shown us the potential of these platforms have, and with the right tools and guidance, virtual meetings and e-voting can revolutionize the way we conduct elections and make decisions in our communities, paving the way for a more inclusive and accessible future.
For more information on how to conduct virtual meetings and e-voting, please contact Votegrity at https://www.votegrity.net/contact-us to schedule a one-on-one, fill out our contact form, or join our webinar.