Preparing for Annual Membership Meetings as Illinois Plans to Reopen

COVID-19-related state and local restrictions upon public gatherings continue to have an impact upon the ability of community associations to convene for their annual membership meetings. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced a five-phase plan for reopening the state and allowing different types of gatherings to occur as certain public health metrics are reached. The City of Chicago has established a similar plan. However, the exact timelines for transitioning between the phases of the governmental reopening plans have yet to be determined. Furthermore, even after governmental restrictions are relaxed and eventually lifted, many homeowners will remain reluctant to attend in-person annual membership meetings. To effectively address these challenges, associations may wish to use this opportunity to reconsider how they conduct their annual meetings.

Condominium associations have express statutory authority to conduct annual meetings by using mail-in ballots or electronic voting but must follow specified procedural guidelines in order to begin using either type of voting system. Sections 18(b)(9)(B) and 18(b)(9)(B-5) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act respectively provide that a condominium association can conduct board elections either by mail-in ballot or by electronic voting, provided that the association must adopt an amendment to its rules and regulations implementing the new voting system at least 120 days before the annual meeting date.

Relative to non-condominium associations subject to the Illinois Common Interest Community Association Act (“CICAA”), Section 1-25(h-5) of CICAA also allows for homeowner voting by mail-in ballot or electronic voting. Although the 120-day rule adoption period for condominium associations does not apply to CICAA associations, a CICAA association still must adopt a proper rule amendment before using a mail-in ballot or electronic voting system.

Some associations may choose against a mail-in ballot or electronic voting system and continue to allow homeowners to vote in person or by proxy at their annual meetings held sometime after larger public gatherings become permitted. These associations can still take commonsense practical measures to balance the health concerns of homeowners with the need to keep annual meetings on track. For example, an association can be proactive in requesting that homeowners return proxies to the association in advance of the annual meeting date to ensure that a quorum of homeowners can be reached. Also, to limit the number of persons gathering at any particular time, an association can schedule staggered times for homeowners to deliver proxies and cast ballots in person at the annual meeting.

In that many annual meetings are held during the final months of each calendar year, most associations still have time to make adjustments in preparation for their 2020 annual meetings. If our firm can assist with your association’s annual meeting, please feel free to contact us.