In these times, with COVID-19 looming large in our minds and social distancing becoming a mandated enforcement, it’s not the best time for holding in-person meetings. However some meetings must still take place. To reduce the in-person attendance, encourage absentee ballots or electronic voting and offer online or telephone attendance.
With the advent of technologies like Skype and Zoom teleconferences have never been easier. Or even a good old fashioned speaker phone can do the trick.
Should meetings be cancelled or move virtual?
Any non-essential meeting should be canceled or postponed at this time. If a meeting is critical or cannot be delayed, it can move online or to a telephone conference call. It’s also important to remind people that board meetings cannot be recorded if they do attend remotely.
The health and wellness of the community holds president so annual meetings and any other non-essential meetings should be canceled or delayed.
For board meetings, conference phone calls are perfectly acceptable as long as all members can hear each other. This counts as if the members were physically present.
Some associations may try to argue for emergency meeting status. However, according to Florida Statue §720.316 on association emergency powers. This outbreak would most likely not hold up as a full emergency yet.
What if you are in the middle of an election?
If you are or were currently in the midst of the election during the outbreak you have two options.
- Suspend the annual meeting until after the outbreak has been contained. After the pandemic, you can reschedule the meeting and have the inspector count the ballots. From here everything would go on as usual in a typical election.
- You can suspend attendance but you can still count the ballots. In this option there will be no physical meeting but an inspector can open the ballots and count results. The downside to this is that no one can observe the counting of ballots. Depending on provisions ,statutes and bylaws this may be contrary to requirements, however under the current circumstances it may be acceptable. It is highly recommended that you contact an attorney to determine if this is a legal option for you.
Overall, our advice is to play it safe. Suspend meetings or cancel them if necessary, but by all means avoid large gatherings. When applicable, if meetings are still going to be held remotely, they must still fall under all provisions of normal board meetings all except for the in-person attendance. This means that notice must still be posted within the appropriate time frame and the notes on what is being discussed should be posted according to regulations.