Community associations often ask whether they can vote by written ballot in lieu of a meeting because it can be an easier and more efficient approach to voting. In short, a vote by written ballot occurs when an association elects to deliver a written ballot to every association member that is entitled to vote on the matter in lieu of an association meeting. In Oregon, the Oregon Condominium Act and the Oregon Planned Community Act indicate that associations can vote by written ballot unless the association is prohibited from doing so or otherwise limited by the association’s declaration or bylaws. Importantly, though, a vote by written ballot cannot substitute for the following meetings:
- A turnover meeting;
- An annual meeting if more than a majority of the lots or units are the principal residences of the occupants;
- A meeting of the association if the agenda includes a proposal to remove a director; or
- A special meeting of the association called at the request of the owners in accordance with Oregon law.
If your association elects to proceed with a vote by written ballot, you should ensure that you have carefully reviewed the requirements in your association’s governing documents and the Oregon Condominium Act or the Oregon Planned Community Act. Also, you will need to provide owners with at least 10 days’ notice before written ballots are mailed or otherwise delivered. The notice that written ballots will be distributed must include the following information:
- The general subject matter of the vote by written ballot;
- The right of owners to request secrecy procedures as specified in ORS 100.425 or ORS 94.647;
- The date after which ballots may be distributed;
- The date and time by which any petition requesting secrecy procedures must be received by the board; and
- The address where any petition must be delivered.
Next, the written ballot is sent to owners and it shall set forth each proposed action and provide an opportunity to vote for or against each proposed action. If secrecy procedures are requested, the process for proceeding with a vote by secret written ballot are set forth in ORS 100.425 or ORS 94.647, as applicable. Any solicitation for votes by written ballot must also meet the requirements of ORS 100.425 or ORS 94.647, as applicable.
In general and unless otherwise prohibited by an association’s articles of incorporation, declaration, or bylaws, the votes by written ballot may be counted from time to time before the final return date of the ballots to determine whether the proposal has passed or failed by the votes already cast on the date the ballots are counted.