Voting is an essential responsibility for homeowners’ association (HOA) members. Homeowners who live in an HOA vote to determine the outcome of important community decisions, including amendments to governing documents, electing the board of directors, and more. Critical to the future of a community, voting ensures residents have a voice in how the community operates now and in the years to come. However, some HOAs require that residents cast their votes in person. When a member cannot attend in person, proxy voting might be the best avenue for acting on community-related issues.
To increase voter participation and community engagement, read on for everything your HOA needs to know about proxy voting.
Top 11 Questions About HOA Proxy Voting
Keeping association members invested in community affairs and encouraging them to vote can be challenging for some HOAs. Many homeowners are away for parts of the year, have busy schedules, or experience personal issues that prevent them from attending meetings.
By allowing voting by proxy, homeowners can help impact the future of their community. These frequently asked questions and answers provide more insight into the proxy process.
1. What’s a proxy?
In short, a proxy is a document a homeowner signs to appoint another person to act on their behalf. For HOA members, this document authorizes somebody to vote for them if they’re unable to attend the meeting or otherwise cast the vote themselves. While the proxy holder is often a neighbor or family member, who can be appointed will depend on state and local laws and your HOA’s governing documents.
2. What’s proxy voting?
Proxy voting provides homeowners with the opportunity to participate in association affairs and cast their vote—even when they cannot be there in person.
For HOA proxy voting, a homeowner will need to appoint somebody to vote on their behalf. Depending on your HOA rules, members may have a choice between a directed or non-directed proxy. With a directed proxy, the appointed person has the right to vote on only a specific issue. Non-directed proxy holders can vote on any topic on the homeowner’s behalf during that meeting.
3. What are the rules governing the use of proxy?
Every state, province, and HOA will have different rules and bylaws that apply to proxies. States and provinces will outline community voting laws, establishing when and how associations can use proxy voting. Likewise, your governing documents will provide details on HOA voting rules, including if proxy voting can be used to reach decisions for the community and who can serve as a homeowner’s proxy.
Governing documents are packed with essential information on HOA voting and living. Read “A Breakdown of HOA Governing Documents” to learn more.
4. How Do You Obtain a Proxy Form?
You can get a proxy form directly from your community association. Reach out to your community manager or board of directors for the proper form. If you submit a form that was not distributed by your HOA, it may be invalid. Check your community’s governing documents and state law for details on acceptable forms.
5. What’s on a proxy form?
An HOA proxy sheet typically includes important details, such as:
- The name and address of your HOA
- The date and time of the HOA meeting
- Clearly stated identification of who is appointed to vote on the homeowner’s behalf
- The rights the homeowner is assigning to the proxy holder
- The candidates or other choices for which the community is voting
- Date and signature of the homeowner and proxy holder
6. What are the benefits of having a proxy?
The biggest benefit of HOA proxy voting is the ability to participate in community affairs without disrupting the lives of members or the work of the board. Although in-person voting and meeting attendance are ideal, not all HOA members have the same flexibility.
While voting by proxy lets homeowners’ voices be heard, it also gives board members more feedback and resident representation than they would have if a homeowner couldn’t participate at all.
7. Are there challenges to voting by proxy?
There’s often confusion regarding the difference between a proxy and an absentee ballot. When homeowners receive a proxy, some think it’s an absentee ballot and fill it out, send it back, and believe they have cast their vote. However, a proxy document is meant to assign a person to vote on the homeowners’ behalf. An absentee ballot is an actual vote from the person who cannot attend an election in person.
Community leaders should explain the proxy voting process to avoid confusion and missed opportunities for homeowners to vote.
8. What’s the difference between a quorum and a proxy?
In order to conduct business, there’s a minimum number of HOA members who must be present to start an annual meeting, hold elections, or make key decisions. This is called a quorum. The number of members that constitute a quorum should be outlined in the bylaws of a community’s governing documents. When there’s an election, a proxy is the authorization of another person—who’s present at the meeting—to vote on your behalf.
It’s necessary to reach quorum at an annual meeting. Check out “The Complete HOA Annual Meeting Guide” for tips on this significant gathering.
9. What’s a proxy for quorum?
It can be difficult for some HOAs to reach a quorum and move forward when not enough members are available to attend a meeting.
Allowing proxy voting is an effective way to reach a quorum. A proxy holder is counted towards the overall attendance and voting outcomes, avoiding stalled decisions and wasted time for the association.
10. How many HOA members can a proxy represent?
In general, a designated proxy can only represent the person who authorized them to make decisions or vote on their behalf. Proxies cannot be transferred or used when the HOA member is in attendance. If you’re unsure if a person can be a proxy for HOA matters, consult your association’s attorney or governing documents to learn the requirements.
11. How many proxies can one person hold?
The number of proxies a homeowner can hold may depend on what’s being decided in the meeting. For example, a homeowner may designate a proxy to vote on board elections, while another proxy holder can decide on amendments to the governing documents. The HOA’s bylaws may have restrictions on how many proxies one person can hold.
HOA Board Elections: How to Get It Right
Voting for HOA board officers is one of the most important decisions homeowners can make for the community. Some communities allow you to vote by proxy for board elections, but others don’t. Make sure you understand your community’s HOA voting laws, proxy submissions, and are able to cast your vote. And for tips on how to successfully conduct your board elections, check out our ebook, “HOA Board Elections: How to Get It Right.”