Homeowners associations hold elections to determine who will assume the roles of the board of directors. But, how exactly can an association hold HOA elections?
In this article:
What Is the Process for HOA Elections?
When it becomes time for homeowners association elections, you want to make sure the process is efficient in choosing the most qualified association members to hold such important positions on your board. The way you run these HOA board elections will make all the difference in providing a strong and success-driven community for all involved.
The HOA elections process differs from state to state and association to association. So, it’s important to check your state laws first to see if there are any specific stipulations concerning the HOA election process. Generally, though, the process follows five steps, listed below:
1. Check Your Governing Documents
Obviously, you want to be sure you’re properly following the rules during HOA elections. Aside from state laws, your association’s governing documents will typically include the proper procedure for such events. So, check out the provisions set in the HOA’s governing documents (bylaws) for running elections and setting up meetings.
As mentioned previously, the guidelines can vary depending on your state. As such, you should stay up-to-date on the specifics for your area and any changes that occur to the HOA voting rules. You can’t expect to have a successful election or get the elected board members off to a good start without everyone understanding exactly how the process of elections works—including details like how many votes members must win by.
2. Send Out a Notice
It’s important to notify all community members of the upcoming HOA elections. Inform them of any open positions, in case they’re interested in running. It’s also critical to send out this notice ahead of time so that homeowners can mark their calendars early on. This is a good way to encourage attendance and reach a quorum (discussed below).
3. Election Proper
As the election date approaches, make sure to have everything organized according to the provisions set forth in your governing documents. This will normally include meetings, ballots, and the like. For most HOAs, elections are held during the annual meeting, so make sure to sort out the details by that time. Then, on the day of the HOA elections, let homeowners vote either electronically or using ballots.
4. Tally Results
After voting, tally the results to see who won. Make sure to keep the election results confidential, using a secret ballot. Then, have the results opened and counted during an official open meeting. You can also count the votes immediately after voting takes place during the annual meeting. This will ensure the process is honest and maintains voter confidentiality at all times.
You’ll also want to report the results of the election right away to attendees and board members, as soon as the ballots have been counted. Keep the overall election results public and open to community members within 15 days after the election occurs.
5. Officers Assume Their Roles
Finally, the newly elected board members can assume office and start carrying out their duties. If you’re a newly elected board member, make sure to familiarize yourself with your HOA’s rules and regulations. Remember to keep the community’s best interests in mind at all times, especially when it comes to making decisions.
Who Can Be on an HOA Board?
Check the governing documents of your HOA to see if there are specific candidate qualifications a member must have to run for a board position. At the very least, you’ll obviously want to make sure they are in good standing as a member and homeowner, since that will reflect on their ability to be the best board member for your community.
Generally speaking, though, just about anyone can serve as an HOA board member. If you’re interested in running for a position, make sure you’re a team player with the community’s best interests in mind. Get involved in community activities and attend gatherings. Review your association’s governing documents. You can even ask current board members to help you in your pursuit.
How Long Can an HOA Board Member Serve?
Whether or not your association has term limits depends on your location and bylaws. There are states that govern term limits for HOA board members. For instance, in Florida, board members are limited to eight consecutive years. Make sure to check your state laws and governing documents to see if term limits apply to your HOA.
How Many Homeowners Should Be Present for Voting?
Not all homeowners need to show up for the HOA elections to go on. You can still hold a vote as long as you meet a quorum. To put it simply, a quorum is the minimum number of homeowners you need to proceed with business. Quorums also differ from association to association, so it’s best to check your governing documents for this information ahead of time. This will prevent you from holding an election just to find you don’t even have the correct number of attendees.
Can Absent Homeowners Still Vote?
If a homeowner can’t make it to the elections, they can have someone serve as a proxy for them. This usually involves proxy forms, though specific procedures will be outlined in your governing documents. Send out proxy forms prior to the meeting that includes information on the candidates and the election process, as well as voting guidelines. This will help prepare members ahead of time, remind everyone of the pending election, and ensure the election can continue with the correct number of votes.
Can Renters Vote?
Usually, renters don’t have a right to vote in HOA elections. They also typically can’t serve as proxies for their landlords. However, it will still depend on your HOA’s governing documents and state laws. It’s best to check both sources of information for stipulations concerning renters.
The Key to Smooth HOA Elections
HOA elections are a big deal, and a lot of things can go wrong in the process. However, a thorough familiarity with your state laws and governing documents can save you a mountain of headaches. If you’re still feeling unsure about holding elections, it might be time to employ the help of an HOA manager.
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