Florida has approved the use of e-voting for condo & homeowner associations and cooperatives but of course there are rules, This article is intended to help shed a little light on what each of those rules mean and how Vote HOA Now addresses each of them.
The language for condos & cooperatives is identical, the language for homeowner associations is almost identical and only differs in that item 2 (d) having to do with secret ballots adds a line stating "This paragraph only applies if the association’s bylaws provide for secret ballots for the election of directors."
(2) The association uses an online voting system that is:
(a) Able to authenticate the unit owner’s identity.
This would indicate that the owner data that is loaded into the online voting system is a match for the data provided to each owner by the association. Voting is accomplished in one of two ways, the first being a link that is encrypted with each owner's name, email address and possibly more information. This link would be emailed to the owner at the address that was loaded in the database. Clicking on the link would take them right into the ballot where they can make their choices and cast the ballot. The second way which is what most of our Florida clients use and what the attorneys we've talked with in Florida prefer is to assign a "registration code" (a PIN) to each homeowner, entering a valid, unused PIN at the prompt sends them to an account creation form where they provide their first and last name and an email address. This provides an extra layer of authentication, the PIN can be emailed to the owner at the email address that is loaded in the database or alternatively be sent to them by regular mail. After registering to vote they would be taken into the ballot to vote.
(b) Able to authenticate the validity of each electronic vote to ensure that the vote is not altered in transit.
This implies that SSL encryption is used to protect the connection from a voter's computer/phone/pad to the server. Basically without this encryption the data that goes back and forth from a web browser is very readable text, and if someone were on the same network as the voter it would be relatively easy to read or capture everything coming and going over the internet. An encrypted connection makes this far more difficult to do. It's not impossible but the type of person that could do this has far more lucrative targets in mind.
All of our voting sites use 256 bit SSL.
(c) Able to transmit a receipt from the online voting system to each unit owner who casts an electronic vote.
After a ballot is cast the voter is taken to a page confirming how they voted AND an email receipt with the same information is sent to them.
(d) For elections of the board of administration, able to permanently separate any authentication or identifying information from the electronic election ballot, rendering it impossible to tie an election ballot to a specific unit owner.
In a secret election we have two reports available, one is a list of votes cast with no identifying information as to who cast the vote. The other is a report of who voted without any information as to how they voted.
(e) Able to store and keep electronic votes accessible to election officials for recount, inspection, and review purposes.
With our annual account voting records are kept as long as the account is retained by the association. That is to say as long as the service is renewed each year, records are kept. At a minimum voting records are kept for one (1) year with annual accounts.
What our Clients are Saying!
"Anyone, whether a property manager or a volunteer Board member, who has responsibility for running an election, should use VoteHOAnow for a virtually effortless election."
"Our election was a success, with more votes than we've seen in years, and over half of all votes came in via electronic voting."
We really appreciated how flexible and easy to work with VoteHOANow was during the process of getting our community ready to vote electronically for the first time.