R.G. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Mister Condo replies:
R.G., please keep in mind that I am not an attorney so please consider my advice as friendly. If you feel your association Board has conducted improper voting by email you would be well advised to speak to a qualified attorney who can give you a more thorough answer and remedy. Here’s my friendly advice:
The short answer to your question is “it depends”. And what it depends upon is a few things. First, do the association’s governing documents allow for electronic communications for voting? Most do not but the Board can adopt a rule enabling it. Second, what is the item being voted upon? If they are simply trying to select a date for the next meeting or reviewing bids on a project that have been submitted, then they are not voting but simply planning. On the other hand, if they are conducting formal votes on things like special assessments, new rules for parking, or anything that unit owns have a right to be present for and observe, it could be argued that they cannot vote via email for such items. Finally, since votes are permanent records of the association and must be made available for inspection by any members of the association, they need to provide an email archive of the votes. Many Boards choose not to vote via email just because of that last clause. If a unit owner questions the validity of the vote, the Board may not simply say the vote was held by email; they need to produce the results of the vote (as well as the motion to vote on the issue as well).
There is a practical application for voting by email; it is convenient. Board members are volunteer leaders of your association and many have obligations that require much more time than they have available to run the association. Keeping each other informed by email is the modern equivalent of calling each other on the phone (another method of voting that requires recordkeeping). For the most part, Boards are well advised to conduct business only at face to face, regularly scheduled Board meetings where the Board Secretary can take proper notes which can be made available to interested unit owners within the association. The Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA) in our state requires a level of openness that is sometimes difficult to achieve with votes that are not held in person. That being said, there are times when decisions are better made between these meetings. In those cases, the Board may choose to meet or vote via email, provided their association documents allow it, but they must still provide full transparency and documentation of those votes that are held.
Hope that helps. All the best!