Should HOA Boards Add Write-In Spaces on the Ballot?
Owners often write in about elections and some have questions about write in blanks on the ballot. Are they required? Are they allowed, not allowed?
Civil Code Section says: “(j) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the rules adopted pursuant to this section may provide for the nomination of candidates from the floor of membership meetings or nomination by any other manner. Those rules may permit write-in candidates for ballots.”
So, Boards are not required to include them but they may.
Here is what a reader wrote in about this:
“Our ballots have a space for write-in candidates, which doesn’t seem legal to me since our election rules require “nominations” be returned by a certain date in order to be on the ballot. Shouldn’t people have the right to know who is running (or not) in order to rally for or against a particular candidate?”
It is good to let the owners know who is running. However, some documents call for nominations from the floor of the annual meeting and if the board sends the ballots out before the meeting and allows them to be turned in after the nominations from the floor, this is the only way to allow for owners to vote for those who are nominated from the floor.
Sometimes boards cannot find any candidates to run until they have the opportunity to seek volunteers at the annual meeting.
Here is a blurb on the problems that arise through apathy taken from the Primer
I have written on Elections which is available on the Condo Guru website:
“Elections” in the face of apathy.
Apathy is a prevalent problem in HOAs. Getting owners to vote in any election
is commonly very difficult. It is hard to find people to serve. It is going to
be very difficult for many associations to get enough names on the secret
ballot to constitute any kind of a contest. Yet, the new elections law does not
provide a mechanism for a Board to determine the election by acclamation (for
lack of candidates) or board appointment (for lack of a quorum). The secret
ballot system deters meeting participation and many associations rely on the
meeting to recruit Directors. So, in a situation where a Board cannot get
sufficient names added to the ballot to provide for any contest of the
election, what are they to do? CC1363.03 does not address this dilemma. If
they forego sending out the ballot because there were no candidates, or not
enough candidates to fill the positions, then they are in violation of the law
but sending it out is completely futile and a waste of funds. Either way, an
association could end up in court.”
So some associations try to get more candidates by begging people who come to the annual meeting to run.