Question: What is the most efficient way to count ballots at an Annual Meeting? Our group has a large membership and vote counting bogs down the meeting.

Answer: With many ballots to count, preparation is essential. The ballots should be preprinted with names of all candidates and a checkbox next to each. A couple of blanks should be left for nominations from the floor at the meeting. After the ballots have been completed, they should be collected by the election tellers (none of whom should be running for election) and divided into equal parts.

Using several teams of two, one reading the results and the other tallying, ballots can be counted simultaneously by the teams and the final tallies from each team can then be added together for the final results. A Head Teller should check the math, circle the name(s) of the winner(s) and hand the results to the Board President to announce. Using this technique should allow the process to be completed in 5-10 minutes during which other business can be handled. The counted ballots should then be batched and stapled to the tally sheets and retained in the annual meeting file should questions about the election arise.

Question: Can the Board cite a "long-standing policy" to prohibit construction of an enclosed patio beyond a side privacy wall in my own back yard, although there is no written rule or regulation in the documents which would prohibit that?

Answer: In general, it is the HOA's right to dictate the exterior appearance of the homes. So, as a rule, an owner should always get approval of exterior modifications before proceeding. Even though the city may issue a permit, the HOA may have restrictions that override zoning and building codes.

If the Board has enacted broader architectural design restrictions than are found in the governing documents, these need to be made known in writing to all owners. It is not fair or reasonable to expect owners to know these things by mental telepathy. Also, such restrictions need to be reasonable. If your proposed enclosure is not visible from the street, what difference should it make to the Board or the neighbors? Based on your description, this restriction does not seem reasonable and unless the Board can produce an Architectural Design Policy that specifically prohibits it (and the reasons for it), I believe you should not be restrained from moving forward.

Question: Is it a problem if we are remodeling our clubhouse and a Board member charges the materials to a personal credit card?

Answer: As long as the purchases are legitimately for the HOA, it's probably okay. However, normally they should be billed to the HOA and paid by check so the record is clear about what was bought and why. It will also keep the record straight for warranties that are included with the purchases.

If the materials are being charged to this card so the director gets air miles or some other perk, it is not acceptable. This is a conflict of interest and constitutes compensation for a director who is not supposed to receive any.

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