One of the centerpieces of a successful HOA is a well-organized election process. However, in order to ensure that your HOA elections succeed every year, it's important to take heed of a few key rules: follow your governing documents; send out proxies; ensure that you have a quorum; document your elections appropriately; know who can vote; and take the time to count votes correctly.
Follow your governing documents
When it comes to governing documents and HOA elections, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that you don't have to improvise how to handle your elections each year. After all, your governing documents already have the proper election process laid out for you. The bad news is that if you don't follow that process to the letter, you risk invalidating your election altogether. Therefore, take the time to look over your governing documents in detail for all the election rules you need to follow. A few key stipulations to look for include the number of votes required to constitute a quorum; the amount of notice the HOA needs to give the community before the election; and the number, percentage or plurality of votes required to elect a board member.
Send out proxies
One of the best ways to ensure you have a sufficient vote count for a successful HOA election is to send out proxies well in advance of election day. Don't forget to include as much information in the proxy as possible, such as a list of candidates.
Ensure that you have a quorum
No matter how well you run your HOA elections, if you don't have a quorum, your election is invalid. Therefore, make reaching a quorum a top priority from the beginning. Sending out proxies goes a long way. However, you may also need to do active outreach to your community in the days and weeks leading up to your annual meeting and election. It also helps, when possible, to add an online voting option to your process. There are e-voting platforms and sites that can help. As a last resort, if you don't have a quorum on election night, it's time to start knocking on doors until you do.
Document your elections appropriately
There are many reasons to document your HOA elections thoroughly. To begin, it's almost certainly a key stipulation in your governing documents, and understandably so. Documenting your HOA elections is a safeguard against any disputes that may arise over the validity of the election process, including the results themselves. One of the most important events to document is the actual attendance on election night. Whether through a sign in form or other means, always be sure to create a list of everyone in attendance so that you have evidence to support your claim of a quorum.
Know who can vote
This rule goes hand-in-hand with your governing documents, which should stipulate the criteria that members must meet in order to vote in HOA elections. It may seem like a simple matter, but in actuality knowing who can and cannot vote in elections can get quite complicated. For example, if a unit has multiple owners, do each get a vote? Often, the answer is no, as the governing documents often stipulate that there is only one vote per unit. However, whatever your HOA's voter eligibility requirements may be, it's important to familiarize yourself with them in detail to avoid any uncertainty that could undermine your election process.
Take the time to count votes correctly
In all the excitement of election night, a hasty count of votes can lead to nothing but trouble and can derail even the best run HOA election. Therefore, always take the time to carefully and patiently count the votes, several times, to ensure you always get the same totals with no room for doubt.
How to have successful HOA elections
If you want to have a successful HOA, having a successful election process is an essential ingredient. However, in order to ensure that your HOA elections succeed every year, it's important to take heed of the principles outlined above: follow your governing documents so that your elections are always consistent and valid; send out proxies well in advance of election day, including as much detail as possible; always ensure you have a quorum, which may require active community outreach leading up to the election; document your elections to guard against any disputes; know exactly who can vote in elections, which is not always as straightforward as it may seem; and take the time to patiently and repeatedly count the votes so that your election results are always rock solid.
Contact us for more information on conducting successful HOA elections.