No matter how a building's governing documents are worded, co-ops and condos have to hold board elections at regular intervals. More importantly, every effort must be made to let shareholders know when and where the elections will be held, how to participate, and what the results are. Running an election and tabulating the results, however, aren't the simplest things in the world.
Often the party that doesn't win lodges a formal protest and, after navigating the courts, might get a recount or even a new election. Results must be carefully and accurately tabulated, using everything from touch-screen technology to traditional lever machines. The building's bylaws say when it's time to hold an election and what the term limits will be. However, many co-ops and condos - seeking to avoid feuding parties and other improprieties - often rely on third-party tabulation services. These service providers, viewed as an impartial organization outside of the building community, hopefully are free from any building politics and conflicts of interest.
Management's role in the election process generally ends after sending out a letter to the shareholders - according to Brien Gittens, owner of The Voting Group, a voting tabulation service located in Queens, New York, but the matter of who conducts and oversees an actual election is debatable. What used to be the managing agent's responsibility was changed by tenants, many of whom felt it was a conflict of interest. "That's why they get private organizations," Gittens says. "It's a mixture of managing agent and private organizations."
Maralin Falik, director of election services for Election Services Corp. in Garden City, New York, says, "When we're helping with the election, we become the inspectors of the election, and we run the election." She says the board provides the listing of who actually owns the apartments and who is allowed to sign, and that they verify the proxy signatures against records held either in the management office or by the board.
"The managing agent really isn't part of the election," adds Earl Hurd, vice president of sales for Election Services. "They may facilitate it by providing space and information, and they may be represented because they may own some units in the building, but they are really not part of the election."