All California HOAs were required to update their election rules in 2020. Now that everyone has experience with the new rules, it is a good time to draw some conclusions about what “good” election rules look like.
1. Make it as easy as possible for association members to nominate themselves or others as candidates.
Associations often struggle to find people willing to serve on their boards of directors. This means it is a good idea to minimize obstacles to owners who might want to nominate themselves or others as candidates. For example, some associations require candidates to submit a candidate statement at the time of nomination. This can act as a deterrent to would-be candidates. Candidate statements should be optional and can come later in the election process: for example, when the Pre-Ballot Notice or the ballots are mailed out. It is also a good idea to allow any owner to nominate any other owner, since some people are reluctant to self-nominate.
2. Make it as simple and inexpensive as possible for associations to hold elections.
This means: eliminate provisions that prevent election by acclamation, such as floor nominations and write-ins. If an association’s rules allow floor nominations or write-ins, it forces a full election to take place, even if the number of candidates matches the number of seats up for election.
It is also an excellent idea to eliminate quorum requirements for the election of directors because it saves hassle, time and money (i.e. not having to reschedule the ballot-counting meeting). Bear in mind, however, that eliminating the quorum requirement for the election of directors requires amending the bylaws.
It is also a good idea for election rules to explicitly allow ballot-counting via Zoom (or similar technology) because remote ballot-counting is much more economical for the association. The latest guidance already allows it, but it is a good idea to call it out explicitly in the rules to avoid confusion or argument.
3. Seek advice.
Many election service providers are happy to talk about their area of expertise and give advice. Contact businesses like Professional Election Inspectors (PRO-EI) if you have a question about your HOA election rules and 99 times out of 100 they will be more than happy to help.
Guest post by Professional Election Inspectors
Professional Election Inspectors specializes in managing HOA elections and serving as Inspectors of Elections for homeowner associations throughout California. Our Inspectors of Elections have a track record of successfully handling every aspect of HOA election logistics, from the call for nominations to the ballot-counting and election certification.