There are certain legal requirements that guide how an HOA board election will be carried out. Without adopting these requirements in the bylaws, liability can creep in and threaten the legitimacy of your election results. With that said, here are 5 HOA voting rules that your association should be aware of before carrying out an election.
1. Required Notices
Notices are an essential part of the anatomy of an HOA. From assessment reminders to violation notices, they aid with bylaw compliance and keep homeowners informed. Election notices are equally important and may be required by the state. Giving homeowners information about an upcoming election may also increase turnout and drive greater community participation.
Notice of an impending election typically must:
- Be provided at least 30 days prior
- Be sent by mail, even if online voting is an option
- Include detailed voting instructions within the notice itself
- Include the date, time and place the voting is taking place
2. Nomination Procedures
After homeowners have received notice of an upcoming election, clear rules for nominating candidates will be needed. These HOA voting rules describe how to nominate yourself or someone else, while laying out objective qualifications that candidates must meet. This protects an individual’s right to self-nominate. It also ensures that candidates must be of a certain caliber for the greater good of the neighborhood.
For example, some associations require that candidates:
- Must be a member of the association
- Must have satisfied all payments and fines
- Must not have had any criminal convictions in a specified period of time
- Must submit a resume and any other relevant materials upon receipt of the election notice, so that voters can review these documents
- Must be vetted and approved by a nominating committee, if one is in place
While there may be rules around who can be nominated, many HOAs have strict provisions for how a candidate, once nominated, can campaign for their position. You’ll need to adopt rules to govern a candidate’s access to:
- Association media, including:
- Social media pages and groups
- The HOA website
- HOA newsletters/circulated print materials
- Homeowner mailing list
- Neighborhood common areas (for gatherings/speeches)
- HOA meetings (to address homeowners)
4. Ballot Procedures
Once campaigning has wrapped and homeowners are ready to cast their vote, a clear set of ballot procedures will be needed. Some states impose requirements around balloting, such as the use of mail-in paper ballots even when online voting is available.
The use of secret ballots is another common state requirement to look for. In this case, secret ballots or tear-away secret ballots may be mailed to each homeowner with an envelope that they can anonymously send back to the association.
Consider how you can use ballot accessibility to drive up voter participation. You’ll want to give homeowners more than one way to submit a vote, so long as each option is in compliance with the bylaws.
Common voting options include:
- Voting booths – Homeowners can come to a specific location at a designated time to cast their vote.
- Mail-in paper ballots – Either secret or non-secret ballots can be mailed to each homeowner, then mailed back to the association.
- Electronic voting – Homeowners can vote on-the-go with an online voting platform, like Association Vote. HOA online voting can help you revive previously low turnout rates thanks to its ease of use.
5. Uncontested and Recall Elections
Part of managing an election is preparing for any situation. That’s why it’s important to have HOA voting rules surrounding uncontested candidates and elections that need to be recalled.
If you have one candidate running for one available position, do you need to hold an election? This is where detailed voting rules come in handy. In short, yes, you should still require that an election must take place. Floor nominations still make it possible for a position to be contested. It’s also important to note that even in the case of an uncontested election, secret ballots may still be required, depending on the size of your community.
A recall vote is a demand to reconsider the outcome of an election, usually as a result of an allegation against the elected member. You can create bylaws to address this situation, but be sure that they don’t interfere with state law.
Rules to consider would be:
- Requiring a signed petition to hold a recall meeting.
- Having detailed voting requirements for recalling the contested board member. For example; voting by secret ballot to remove a board member, then giving the ability to block the removal.
- Requiring specific notices to keep homeowners informed of board member allegations or discussions of recall.
- Creating nomination procedures and requirements to prevent a similar situation from occurring.
Manage Seamless HOA Elections with Page Per Page
The details of sending ballots and receiving votes vary by state and can often add complexity to your role overseeing an election. That’s why Page Per Page is a great resource to help you to meet state and bylaw requirements. Page Per Page is a print and mail company that specializes in community associations.
From secret ballots and election notices, they can print and deliver all necessary election documents to your homeowner’s doorstep. This printing and mailing expertise is the perfect compliment to their HOA online voting solution, Association Vote, which gives homeowners the option to cast their vote on their own time. Contact Page Per Page today to gain the ultimate partner for streamlining your HOA board elections.