How Are HOA Board Members Elected?
To make sure your election is fair, inclusive, and consistent with the documents governing your community, follow these protocols.
1. Create an election committee.This may be the best known way for any Board to demonstrate complete transparency for all unit owners in the election process. Your management company can guide you on creating an election committee. A specifically appointed election committee can ensure a fair and organized election. Appoint or vote in a chairperson and committee members – all with limited tenure. Be very specific about the powers and duties of each committee member. The members of the election committee should not include Board member candidates, current Board members and officers, or their spouses. Speak to your managing agent directly for guidance and options, and to ensure that all procedures are in compliance with your association’s by-laws.
2. Distribute a meeting notice and a call for candidates.Your governing documents will state the requirements on calling for candidates and dictate a specified time frame for completing this process. As a Board, you should discuss the procedures reflected within your by-laws for the official Annual Meeting Notice distribution with your managing agent and association attorney. Remember, this is a legal notice and we recommend the notice be drafted by your attorney and subsequently distributed by your managing agent. Your manager can also provide the details to your attorney, such as date, time and location as approved by the Board. You can also discuss the best method of delivery for official documents. It’s best to have your attorney draft this notice (and your managing agent should approve it) to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information.
Your Annual Meeting package to all owners should include (1) the official notice, (2) total number of Board seats up for election, (3) request for candidates (and instructions on how to become one), (4) a general and/or specific proxy (depending on what is required within your by-laws), along with (5) a ballot for voting procedures for HOAs if applicable. (This goes into the second notice for a condominium association.)
Each candidate must submit their credentials for eligibility and their biographies should be distributed to all owners prior to the meeting.
3. Appoint an Inspector to monitor the election.Your governing documents might provide for the appointment of an individual who makes sure the election happens in a way that is objective and unbiased. If not, now is the time to do so. The inspector should not be affiliated with the Board in any way and his or her primary role should be to ensure the election happens fairly. In some cases, the judiciary committee or the covenants committee can act as the election inspectors. Or your election committee can serve as volunteer inspectors at the meeting. Your attorney should attend and supervise the annual election. If the Board changes, it is entirely appropriate that the attorney know who the new bosses are! And they can provide any technical and legal advice as may be required around valid ballots, signature forms, valid proxies, etc.
4. Establish your quorum.It’s not a word you hear every day, but “quorum” refers to the minimum number of homeowners who must respond to the ballot initiative in order to effect a binding election. This voting number can happen in person or by proxy. The term “quorum,” as applied to elections and annual meetings, does not refer to the number of current Board members present at these type of meetings as some mistakenly believe. Take advantage of this exercise to properly define a quorum for election and annual meetings.
The percentage of homeowners needed in order to reach a quorum is explicitly stated in your association’s by-laws. You should confirm this information with your managing agent prior to the meeting. Without reaching a quorum at an annual meeting, your meeting will not be able to take place officially as your homeowners will not be able to vote. Consequently, an election will not be able to be held and the meeting may only move forward as an “informational” one. If any other business requires a quorum, you could suspend adjournment of the meeting to a future date. Discuss this possibility with your attorney as well for confirmation in your specific circumstances.
5. Count your votes reliably.Whether votes are cast by machine or with paper, make sure all ballots are counted in a way that complies with tally procedures – and ensure that these procedures are clearly explained to appointed judges prior to the election taking place. It is best practice for the committee to count the votes in the open – in front of the membership in attendance at the meeting. To remain completely transparent, do not tally the ballots in another room away from the election.
6. Tabulate the results.Remember the election committee you established earlier? This is their chance to tabulate the results and deliver the results to management. It’s a good idea for your attorney to be present for this part of the process, too. In any case, the total tabulation should include total votes cast in person, total number of absentee and proxy votes, and total number of invalid votes. Finally, we recommend that only the names of the top vote recipients be announced to the membership – rather than announcing the number of votes per recipient.
Make no mistake, elections are a key part of an association’s growth and welfare. Follow these steps – along with the expert advice of your property management company and legal counsel – and you’re assured fair and reliable elections for your next era of leadership. To learn about about how FirstService Residential can help your community achieve excellence visit our property management page.