It is not a statutory requirement that an association have a written election procedure; however, it is normal for an association to have an election procedure set forth in its bylaws.
There is a requirement for notice to be given of association meetings. Elections are considered association meetings and therefore notice is required.
Ohio requires that associations hold elections at least once every year. The number of board members to be elected if any, depends on whether there are any open positions. The bylaws typically state when an association’s annual meeting should take place each year and whether the term of board members is staggered.
Yes, an annual meeting of the owners is required.
Yes, an association may insert, by an amendment that is approved by the owners, term limits for their board members, though doing so may be counter-productive as it limits the pool of eligible and willing volunteers to take on the position for the association. Ohio has no statutorily required term limit so if it is not currently in an association’s bylaws, term limits would require an owner amendment vote.
Directors are generally elected by members of the association, and are vested with the power and authority to vote to direct the corporate affairs of the association. Officers on the other hand are generally appointed by the board of directors, and they have specific job requirements. In most cases officers are directors.
A nominating committee can be chosen in a multitude of ways; however, most commonly, the board appoints individuals to a nominating committee. Ohio has no statutory requirement for nominating committees; though some bylaws mandate a nominating committee and specifically what the composition of the nominating committee will be. If in the Bylaws, in general a nominating committee will be appointed by the board of directors.
The nomination process is governed by the bylaws, and so nominations from the floor must be provided for in the bylaws.
Self-nomination may be banned only if the Bylaws contain a provision that limits the method by which an individual may be nominated.
What is the procedure for a resident not nominated by the nominating committee to be listed on the ballot?
If not prohibited by the governing documents, an individual may nominate themselves or have another owner nominate them, provided that the person nominated accepts the nominations.
There is nothing in Ohio law that prevents a board from publicly endorsing a single candidate or a slate of candidates.
No, the Board may not adopt rules on who can be on the board, though governing documents may set qualifications for being on the board, such as being an owner-occupant or in good-standing with the association.
No, this procedure should be avoided because it involves current board members investigating challengers for their positions. If the information from a background check is handled inappropriately it may open the association up to litigation or fair housing complaints.
A board may not go far at all in vetting potential board members. Generally, vetting is limited to verification of ownership and compliance with governing document required qualifications.
During the campaigning phase of the election, do boards need to provide equal access to association media for candidates to campaign?
There is no Ohio law requiring equal access to association media for board member candidates, though to promote a sense of fairness boards should attempt to treat all candidates equally. Many boards do so by allowing each candidate to write a brief description of their background and reasons for running for the board and then share this information with all owners.
There is no Ohio law preventing an individual owner, even if a current board member, from making their opinions or beliefs known. To avoid the board from reducing itself to political bickering and mud-slinging, the board itself should not communicate with owners through association media alleging that a candidate is making false claims.
No, voting in an association election is open to all owners.
Generally when an owner walks in the door for the annual election meeting, they sign in for their unit and should be handed a ballot. Voting is private, so the ballot should not include the name or address of the owner. In many Ohio condominiums, voting is weighted by percentage of ownership and in those instances, the ballot should contain the percentage of interest.
It is the duty of the inspectors of the election to count the ballots, and once the ballots are counted and the meeting adjourned all owners have the right to view the ballots.
Voting by proxy must be authorized in the association’s bylaws. A proxy must be in writing and designate who the proxy is given to, the purpose for which it is used, and it has to be signed and dated by the owner giving the proxy.
An association’s bylaws control the use of proxies. A proxy is not limited unless the bylaws or the proxy itself imposes such a requirement.
Members of an association are given a number of votes in correspondence to how many open board member positions there are, however the owners are not required to cast one ballot per candidate but could instead use all of their votes on a single candidate.
To illustrate the definition of cumulative voting:
There are 3 open positions on the board, and 3 candidates run for those 3 positions. Everybody has the right to cast 3 votes. If the association bylaws permit cumulative voting, each owner would be able to give all 3 of those votes to one candidate.
The bylaws of an association often indicate that the votes are determined by the drawing of lots or the flipping of a coin. If the Bylaws of an association are silent on this topic, another round of voting would be necessary.
In Ohio, a judicial court action would be necessary to challenge an election or force a recount.
An election inspector oversees an association’s election to ensure there is no irregularity in the processing and counting of votes. The inspector generally counts the votes, verifies the owners, and ensures a proper chain of custody of ballots. An election inspector is generally selected from among the owners but may also include the association’s attorney or management company personnel.