From time to time, every homeowner’s association must pass new rules, regulations, or policies—and while most homeowners are aware of this need, and happy to go along with it, there are occasionally times when tensions rise over the ins and outs of the decision-making process. One way to curb these tensions, and to lead to greater homeowner satisfaction in general, is to consider taking votes, allowing community members to actually weigh in on the issues themselves, and to take the decision-making power into their own hands.

Naturally, there will be some issues on which it is not prudent to put things to a vote. However, HOA board members should not be afraid of letting community members vote. This is a great way of increasing community-wide participation, and in helping residents feel more trusting of their HOA board!

Of course, there are some practical considerations to make. For example, your HOA board will need to decide whether cumulative voting is the way to go. In cumulative voting, each household is given, say, ten votes; so, if you are voting for new HOA officers, you can give all ten votes to one nominee, or give one vote apiece to ten different nominees. This is a common practice in many communities, but be sure to check with local laws and regulations to make sure it is permitted.

It is also important to select your voting method. You can print paper ballots, and allow residents to vote by hand. Some management companies will not provide electronic and online voting services, as well.

Another tip: Create a written policy, stating how far in advance you will notify residents about a pending vote. Stick to that policy closely. This will help residents to feel like they can trust the voting process.

And that, in a nutshell, is what every HOA should strive for, should it choose to implement resident voting: Make sure you have written, transparent policies and that you stick to them, helping residents feel comfortable and secure in the HOA voting process.

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