Your homeowners association needs to hold elections for Board members every so often. While it is important to refresh the leadership of the Association every now and then it is just as vital to make sure any election is held in accordance with the rules and regulations of the individual HOA and the state. Fair elections are a staple of any democracy, on a very large or small scale.
Strong leadership is necessary for the smooth operation of any homeowners association. HOA Board elections offer a way to allow Association members to have a voice in those operations. This will ensure your HOA runs according to the wishes of its members.
Tips to having an effective Board election:
- California law regarding HOA elections was amended several years ago (2006). It is important that your HOA Board review these changes with the Association's legal counsel to make sure your group is in compliance with the laws of the state. Even after a few years many Boards may find that they are not fully complying with the new statute.
- Board’s should have adopted election rules that reflect the changes in law, and are consistent with the Association Bylaw provisions.
- A candidate solicitation notice should be sent to all members, notifying them that they may submit their name as a candidate to the Board. The Association may also invite candidates to submit statements related to the election. All candidates should have equal access for statements to be published to the membership. Candidates, whether incumbent or not, and community members should be given access to meeting space in common areas for purposes related to the election. This access needs to be free and open to all.
- Depending on the Association’s governing documents, there may be certain qualifications that candidates must meet, like being an owner and being a member in good standing (i.e. assessment payments are current). These should be spelled out in the bylaws and election rules. These are generally the same as the qualifications for an HOA Board member: being a homeowner in the Association and being a member in good standing.
- After the candidate solicitation period it is time to prepare the ballot, notice of meeting, and other voting materials. These should give instructions in how to vote, where to send completed ballots, etc. Ballots need to be sent out at least 30 days before the election. Make sure the mailing states where to send the ballots and when they will be counted.
- All voting is by secret ballot and is confidential. The votes need to be counted in an open meeting of the Association. This may be a Board meeting or an Annual membership meeting. There must be a quorum of the Board if ballots are counted in a Board meeting and there must be a quorum of the membership represented if ballots are being counted in an Annual membership meeting. By opening the votes in an official meeting and allowing any member who wishes to observe the counting, members can have more certainty that the election is being held with integrity and confidentially.
- There needs to be either one or three inspector(s) for any HOA Board election. Their duties should be set out in your Association's elections rules and certain duties are also included in California Civil Code.
- Results should be promptly reported to the Board and all those in attendance at the meeting. In addition, the tabulated results need to be publicized to the membership within 15 days.
You have to have elections for your HOA Board on a regular basis as directed in your governing documents (usually the bylaws). In doing so, make sure your Association is up to date with election rules and processes in place to make your elections run smoothly and according to legal requirements. Following the tips above should help you work toward effective Board elections.