Quorum is described as the 'number of members that must be present - physically or by proxy - to constitute a valid meeting'. This is not always as straight forward as it sounds, as numbers seem to differ widely between associations, with each setting out its own requirements in its governing documents. Robert's Rules states that the quorum set in an organization's bylaws 'should approximate the largest number that can be depended on to attend any meeting except in very bad weather or other extremely unfavorable conditions.' In the UK, Residents Association quorum seems to be no less than 10% and is often twice that. In some, the quorum is at least 4 members, in others 5. It's described as a majority, a number greater than a majority or a number less. It is often the case that association rules provide that once a quorum is present at a meeting, it remains so throughout that meeting regardless of how many members leave. Some community acts state that if a meeting is unable to convene due to a lack of quorum, any subsequent adjourned meeting will only require a quorum of one-half of the original.
Robert's Rules states further that 'when the chair has called a meeting to order after finding that a quorum is present, the continued presence of a quorum is presumed, unless the chair or a member notices that a quorum is no longer present.' It generally falls upon the secretary of UK Residents Associations to ensure this quorum is present before any business is discussed. Any member of the association who notices the apparent absence of a quorum can make a point of order and this even extends to debates on already-pending questions continuing after a quorum is no longer present. But there is an apparent contradiction to all this - Again, Robert's Rules states 'If there is important business that should not be delayed, the meeting should fix the time for an adjourned meeting and then adjourn. Where an important opportunity would be lost unless acted upon immediately, the members present can, at their own risk, act in the emergency with the hope that their action will be ratified by a later meeting at which a quorum is present.' So, if quorum is the majority of the entire membership, it would appear that there are no definitive amounts.
Quorum in US Home Owner's Associations
In the US, quorum seems to have a slight variance on the UK definition. 'A quorum is the smallest number of board members necessary to legally conduct the business of an HOA'. Unless that quorum is present, minutes should not be taken, since official business of the HOA cannot be conducted. Most groups, but not all, define a quorum as a simple majority of the members, a fact which should be defined in the HOA's own bylaws. For example, if there are 100 members there would have to at least 51 members present for a majority, and 26 members present for a simple majority. Without a quorum of members then a meeting cannot proceed and a vote on any topic or election cannot occur. Quorum is the first thing that should be determined before a meeting starts, in order to decide whether to go on or move the meeting to another date. The board also cannot just 'say' that there is a quorum. Quorum needs to be properly documented either through a roll call or by sign-in. The quorum number should also be recorded in the minutes for the meeting or election. There does, however, appear to be some common ground - without a quorum, a vote cannot be taken, and the status quo cannot be changed.
One point is very clear - getting a quorum at HOA meetings is becoming harder every day. This is where e-voting comes to the forefront. What better way can there be to help home owners participate in meetings, particularly those who might be simply too busy to physically attend? VoteHOANow is the ideal platform for those who cannot mail a physical ballot. Quotes from clients emphasise the obvious advantages of turning to the web - 'Our online voting went really well. Several people told me it was very easy and a preferred way to participate. We ended up meeting quorum, and the two elections went seamlessly'. 'For the 1st time in ten years our HOA made quorum at the annual meeting'. 'VoteHOANow was a key instrument in helping us achieve quorum by giving the homeowners another way to vote'.
A complex question, but one simple solution.
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