How To Manage Your HOA Elections Process

As part of a homeowners association (HOA), you know how important it is to have reliable, trustworthy, and dedicated board members overseeing your community association.

HOA board members are elected from within the community, by the community, and the processes surrounding these elections differ from association to association. However, some general guidelines will help you conduct your elections in a fair, efficient, and effective way.

Consult Your State Laws

The legal requirements surrounding HOA elections vary from state to state, with certain states requiring more formal processes than others. Even the regularity with which to hold elections differs. In some states, HOA presidents can only serve for a maximum of one year, and in others, they can serve for three. Before you embark on any further planning for your elections, read up on your local state laws so that you can operate within them.

Consult Your Governing Documents

Once you are familiar with your state laws, you should consult your existing HOA governing documents. These documents detail the bylaws and rules of your particular community and can differ widely depending on where you live. The current board of directors can alter and amend them as long as the members-at-large are notified of the change. Within these documents, you should have your HOA’s Board of Election Rules, which will detail any specific timings, requirements, and rules that you should follow.

HOA Board of Election Rules

If you do not already have existing HOA Board Election Rules, then you will need to draw up a list to establish a framework going forward. Without these rules, your association could be potentially liable, and your board of directors could risk being overturned. As these election regulations are operating rules, all members don’t need to vote to approve them. However, all rules should be made public so that community members can see them and request changes if they wish.

What to Include in Your Board of Election Rules

What you decide to include in your Board Election Rules will depend on your specific community and the style of your association. However, there are a few key points you should consider covering in your guidelines:

Candidate Qualifications

Many HOAs like to outline specific requirements that candidates must meet to be nominated and run for office. In most cases, a standard requirement is that every candidate must be a current member of the community association. Some HOAs stipulate that they must have been a member for at least a year before their candidacy.

Other common qualifications include:

  • Having no previous felony convictions
  • Not being related to any current board member
  • Not having any past legal disputes with the HOA
  • Not having any recent violations of the HOA governing documents

Nominations procedure

It is advisable to lay out your nominations procedure in your board of election rules and detail how and when candidates can be put forward for election.

Establish which of these nomination procedures your HOA accepts:

  • Floor nominations – When a member-at-large can nominate another community member at an in-person meeting, giving their reasons for the nomination
  • Written nominations – When a member-at-large can submit a written nomination for another community member
  • Self-nominations – When a member-at-large can nominate themselves for candidacy

Campaigning Fairness

Once candidates have been nominated and announced, they must receive equal backing from the HOA board and equal campaigning privileges. Putting certain checks in place will prevent candidates from monopolizing communal areas and exerting unfair advantages over others.

These rules might include:

  • Equal access to common spaces ensures that all candidates can represent themselves during the campaign period and interact with community members in shared, common areas.
  • Equal access to HOA media outlets allows all candidates to represent themselves in equal measure via the HOA email, website, and social media platforms.

Voter Qualifications

It is essential to outline voting requirements in your board of elections rules to establish who is eligible to vote, what a member’s individual voting power is worth, and whether your HOA accepts votes by proxy in the case of absence or illness.

Election Inspectors

In some states, HOAs are required by law to have an election inspector present to oversee the HOA election process and ensure the HOA employs standards of good practice and fair conduct. Other states do not make this a legal requirement. If your HOA election rules recommend using an election inspector, you must appoint an independent, third-party inspector who does not have any connections to candidates or existing board members.

Voter and Candidate List

Your HOA board of election rules should stipulate what information needs to be on your voter and candidate lists and how far in advance of the election this information should be verified.

Typical voter information includes:

  • Voter name
  • Voting power
  • Physical Address
  • Postal address for ballot

In general, this information should be verified no more than 30 days before an election takes place for the vote to count.

Ballot and Rule Delivery

Your HOA board of election rules and election ballot should be delivered to every member of the community before election day. It is vitally important that this administrative task is completed successfully to ensure that fair warning was given and that all members were made aware of their right to vote.

HOA Election Process

With a strong set of HOA board of election rules, your association will be able to run smooth and fair elections again and again. It will gain much from the uniformity and consistency that the guidelines provide.

But, as well as a fair and consistent process, you want your HOA board elections to be well publicized and accessible. After all, the more members who turn out to vote, the more reflective of the community the elected board will be.

To increase the awareness and accessibility around your HOA board elections, you should consider:

  • Publicizing elections on social media as well as knocking door to door
  • Accepting online ballots as well as postal and in-person ballots

Final Thoughts:

Conducting HOA board elections should be an enjoyable democratic process that allows your community to have their say and select the right people to represent them as board members. Ensuring that your HOA board of election rules are clear and constructive will help establish a fair and smooth-running formula that all future elections can follow. This HOA Election Ballot Template is an example of how the paper itself can be laid out.

FREE Download:
Download your FREE Action Items Worksheet!

Distribute this worksheet to a board prior to each meeting to keep everyone on target, or even keep a running log of similar nature online where everyone can access.

Benefits of having this Action Item Worksheet:

  • One convenient location for all action items (easily add additional communities to this worksheet)
  • Helps the board to be reminded of all of the work that has been done in recent times
  • Comes in handy during budget season to help the Board better predict expenses
  • Helps to prevent important tasks from falling through the cracks
  • A good way to maintain a ‘To Do’ list

This is the resource you’ve been waiting for.