An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published May 17, 2011


Life in Florida's homeowners' associations is often sad enough, meaning owners need an AHA MOMENT once in a while -- something to laugh about. It's even more fun when this AHA MOMENT is supplied by one of the professionals who always claim to know it all.


Gee, how about this one?
Annual election in a HOA in Central Florida. Election takes place; results are announced -- but just the winners -- no real results, no vote count -- nothing else.
Owners dare to complain, asking for the results, the actual vote count -- something that should be an essential part of every election. Imagine an election where the winner announces: I WON!


I wouldn't want to hear the outcry of the other candidates if that happened in a public election. 


In this example -- after the dust settled -- one of the owners dared to ask for the actual vote count and election results, just some proof that the announced winners really won. But the owner was denied these documents by the community association manager -- on advice of attorney.


And that is where attorney Tara Lynn Barrett, Esq. from the law firm Brown Garganese Weiss & D'Agresta P.A. in Orlando supplied the AHA MOMENT in this case. On March 3, 2011 Barrett sent this e-mail to the manager of the homeowners' association in Central Florida (actual text):
Hi Barbara,
I have reviewed the Association's Bylaws and Chapter 720, Florida Statutes, regarding this matter. I am aware of no provision that requires the publication of number of votes for each candidate. Thus, the answer to your question is "NO."
Please let me know if you have any questions.

Tara Lyn Barrett, Esq.


I am not sure if law schools have scratched "Common Sense 101" from their curriculum, but claiming that election results don't have to be published kind of points to it. The result is the important part of the election: It shows who won and who will be in power for the next term. And it shows the losers if it was a close result -- worthwhile making another attempt to get elected next year?


Obviously, certain attorneys expect the legislators not only to describe election procedures step-by-step, but as well make sure that the statutes explicitly say that the election results have to be announced and/or published. Does that mean owners have to file for election arbitration with the DBPR in order to receive copies of the actual election documents? If that's the case, I surely understand the argument of the attorney: More billing hours -- more litigation. 


Why even bother to hold an election, if it's sufficient for the winner to announce that he/she won the election -- without the opposition having the possibility to check if the winner is even able to count to THREE?

Or was that just another "AHA MOMENT"?