A successful election process for a homeowners’ association (HOA) is necessary for the safety and well-being of the community. HOA elections occur when it’s time to elect the board of directors for an association according to its governing documents. Typically, HOA elections are held at an annual meeting, and members of the community association vote for who they think the new HOA board of directors should be, including the president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. To ensure your community has a good election experience, follow these tips for a positive outcome.
1. Ask all homeowners to complete written proxies.
Under normal circumstances, communities have difficulty obtaining a quorum for their annual meetings. Add the limitations of a pandemic, and the issue is even greater. Clearly, this poses a serious problem for the association in that the business of the community—especially the election of board members—depends upon the participation of homeowners. To improve the chances of obtaining a quorum, request that owners complete and return their written proxy, even if they plan to attend the meeting. A proxy is the written authorization that allows one person to appoint another (the proxy holder) to vote on their behalf. Proxies can always be rescinded if the owner attends the meeting, but in case they don’t make it in person, their proxy can be used to establish a quorum and conduct business.
2. Communicate year-round, not just before the annual meeting.
It’s important to notify association members of an upcoming election and all open positions. Provide a list of candidates to the community via mail or association website, but make sure this isn’t the only time you engage homeowners. The more the board communicates with homeowners throughout the year, the more productive the annual meeting. Highlight board meeting decisions, announcements, and upcoming events to assure homeowners you’re looking out for their best interests. When they’re welcomed and encouraged to participate in the operations of the community on an ongoing basis, they’re more likely to get involved in board member elections, too.
3. Be transparent about the voting process.
Usually, an election is carried out, votes are tallied, and winners are determined at the annual meeting. While this has been an established process for many communities, national, state, and local laws vary and can change instantly, affecting what’s written in an association’s governing documents. Some communities can vote by mail or electronically, and elections may take a few days or several weeks. Prior to a board member election, it’s a good idea to host an educational session to explain the voting process to residents.
4. Ensure an Elections Committee is firmly established.
A Nominating Committee and an Elections Committee are mandatory committees that are usually specified in the declaration or bylaws. Both play an important part in ensuring that qualified and willing candidates are available for election to vacant board positions. A voluntary participant, committee members should be familiar and comfortable with the structure, roles, and duties of board members, so they’re more capable of fulfilling their responsibilities as elections officials.
5. Have a board transition plan in place.
Unless a community is brand new, board transitions typically happen after elections at an annual membership meeting. Voted in by community members, new directors volunteer to take on the duties of the board and the great responsibility that comes with it. With no prior experience necessary, board members may not know the full scope of the job. Whether it’s studying the governing documents or shadowing a previous board member, it’s beneficial for the board and the community to keep the transition from the old board to the new board as smooth as possible.
Reasons to Join Your HOA Board
Serving as a board member in your HOA does involve work—but you’d be surprised by the significant impact you can have on your community. Check out our blog post, “7 Reasons to Join Your HOA Board,” to learn more about the rewarding aspects of the job.