An HOA board election is a meeting of the membership during which homeowners come together to elect officials to serve on the board of their HOA. (Membership meetings should not be confused with board meetings, which are meetings where members of the HOA board discuss and vote on association business issues.)
To ensure that your HOA’s board election runs smoothly, here are some expert tips that we have seen from successful associations during our decades of providing HOA management services throughout Southern California.
Tip 1. Read your bylaws.
Your bylaws are part of your HOAs governing documents. This set of regulations stipulates the details and constructs for the election meeting itself. Bylaws often include things like: the number of board seats that will be up for election during a given period, term limits, whether or not voting can be done by proxy, etc. Understanding your bylaws will help you familiarize yourself with your HOA’s process for holding elections, so you’ll know what to expect.
Tip 2. Understand your HOA’s specific election rules.
Your HOA might have important election rules that are not covered in your bylaws. These can include who can serve as an election inspector, the timeline to distribute relevant election information, the process for secret ballot submission, who will register the ballots, etc. It’s a good idea to get to know these, too.
Tip 3. Create a clear timeline.
Well in advance of your election, hold a meeting of your HOA board to establish all important dates. Key dates for an HOA election include the date of record (the date when residents must own their property in the HOA in order to qualify to vote in this election cycle), the date candidacy forms must be submitted, the date of the election and the date election results must be distributed to the membership.
Tip 4. Assign the inspectors of the election ahead of time.
Election inspectors are trusted parties who conduct the physical election and ensure that the process is fair, transparent and truthful. Election inspectors perform a number of significant duties during your election, including registering ballots, establishing proof of quorum, removing secret ballot envelopes from external envelopes, counting ballots, evaluating the validity of ballots, and creating the official tally. Your election inspectors might be your property management company (if your governing documents allow it), a trusted resident, or a third-party independent election company. There are pros and cons for each.
Property management company
- PROS: If a management company is already under contract, election inspection should be covered by your service agreement, so there will be no extra charge. In addition, their expertise will help your election run smoothly.
- CONS: Most property management companies will not be inspectors if the election is contentious. Contentious situations call into question the Inspector of Election’s ability to remain impartial, which is a situation that most management companies will choose to avoid.
Volunteer from the membership
- PROS: You know the member personally and the service is free since it is performed by a resident.
- CONS: Since they are not professional election inspectors, members might require guidance.
Third-party election inspector
- PROS: Professional election inspectors are not only independent, they are experienced, so they are well-equipped to manage the logistics of an election, which is especially important for large elections.
- CONS: Depending on the scope of the election, their services can get costly.
Tip 5. Prepare for election day.
Facilitating a smooth election requires preparing ahead of time for the actual day. Get there early, make sure that your inspectors are prepared and understand their roles and duties. Ensure that all necessary materials are on hand, including letter openers, office supplies for tally sheets, etc.
Tip 6. Record meeting minutes carefully.
Just like any other HOA meeting, a board election requires minutes. Make sure that whoever is writing down the meeting minutes is clearly recording everything that happens. Election records should be comprehensive and transparent.
Tip 7. Clearly announce the winners.
After the results have been tallied, announce the winners formally (note this in the minutes) and seat the new officers at the end of the dais or at the board member table. This helps to ensure that there is no confusion about who was elected. Snap a picture for use in your social media feed and community newsletter.
Tip 8. Follow up quickly.
After the election’s conclusion, mail out your election results in a timely manner, per state code, so all members have a record of what happened on election day. Your property management company can help you organize and distribute your election results.
As with everything related to HOA management, staying organized is part of the overarching blueprint for success. With foresight and preparation, your HOA’s board member election can be a smooth transition to new leadership.