What is a secret ballot, and when does your Homeowner Association need to use one?
Secret ballots sound – well, secret. But they’re not as mysterious and dramatic as they sound. Typically, they’ll be used for very specific HOA-related elections. As you would imagine, the HOA residents would submit their votes without anything that identifies who they are or where they live.
When we vote in elections, our ballots are secret. That preserves the integrity of the vote because it means people can vote the way they want, without any fear of retribution or judgment.
That’s why secret ballots are sometimes necessary within an HOA; they’re anonymous, and that can help residents feel more comfortable casting their votes.
As Winston-Salem association management experts, we want to explain a bit about the secret ballot and share some situations in which you might want to use it during an election in your community.
When to Use a Secret Ballot
Secret ballots are most often used in board elections when residents have the opportunity to vote for their board members and officers. But, the secret ballot can be used for other votes as well. Your HOA may want to use a secret ballot when considering any amendments to governing documents. It can help when you’re deciding whether to approve a project.
The members of your association can also request a secret ballot. Your bylaws and other governing documents may have specific rules around this, but if 20 percent of your membership makes a request for a secret ballot, the board should hold the vote in such a way.
Check your HOA bylaws and requirements. There may be specific instructions around when and how a secret ballot should be used.
Benefits of Secret Ballots for Winston-Salem HOAs
We can think of several arguments that support the use of secret ballots in your HOA. Here are three of the most popular reasons that votes are cast this way:
- There’s less pressure on your homeowners. When there’s no identity attached to a specific vote, you can be sure that your residents will cast the ballot that they truly believe in. This keeps your election sincere. Voters will be less stressed about how they’re voting, and they won’t feel compelled to make a specific choice because that’s what’s expected of them. Peer pressure is eliminated and there’s no chance of intimidation or pressure.
- There’s more security in the election. The HOA secret ballot method is far safer than the traditional ballot method. When done correctly, there’s a fair election at the end of a secret ballot. You won’t have to defend the HOA against claims of fraudulent or biased elections.
- You’ll drive up participation. With residents understanding that they can vote anonymously, they’ll be more likely to cast a ballot, whether it’s on an officer election or a proposal to increase fees.