Free and fair elections are at the heart of any democracy, and homeowners associations are no different. HOAs revolve around a board of elected officials, so periodic elections will be necessary to ensure that leadership is gained fairly and every resident has the opportunity to have their voice heard. If your Tacoma, Washington, homeowners association is holding an election for new board members soon, you’ll need to make sure that you do everything by the book to have a successful outcome. While specific rules and regulations vary from state to state, several general rules apply to every HOA election. Follow these tips and guidelines closely to ensure that your next election goes smoothly and is deemed valid.
HOA elections are a serious matter, so thorough planning is needed to make sure that everything is executed smoothly and legally. Study your community’s governing documents as it likely contains the ground rules for a legitimate election. If clear rules are lacking, be sure to define them and make them known to residents before the day of the election. Give notice of the election to every resident of your community association in accordance with local guidelines. Each state will have its own laws mandating when and how homeowners need to be notified, so consult with your HOA management company to ensure you’re following your state’s guidelines.
Establish Who Can Run & Who Can Vote
It’s highly unlikely that all of the board seats will be up for election at once, so make it clear which seats are up for election and who is eligible for nomination. Not every member of your HOA may be eligible to run based on your community association’s bylaws, but everyone who is eligible should be allowed to run. Nominations may be handled by a specific committee and/or based on popular vote, so check your governing documents to verify which nomination process is true for your HOA. Just as with candidates, not everyone may be eligible to vote based on state laws and community bylaws. Most often, homeowners with outstanding debts or liens may be ineligible for voting. Verify these with your HOA management company, and notify anyone who may not be eligible to vote in your next election.
Reach a Quorum & Prepare Proxies
A quorum is the minimum number of voters required for an election to be deemed valid. Generally, 10% of eligible voters is considered a quorum, but double-check your community’s governing documents. If less than 10% of community members vote, the election cannot go forward. Your HOA can reach a quorum using proxies. If homeowners cannot make it in person but still wish to vote, they can choose a proxy to vote in their place. To allow residents time to choose a proxy, they should be sent out well in advance of election day. Online elections can also be utilized to help increase the number of residents who can vote on election day.
Count Votes Carefully
When it comes to the voting process, everything must be done following local laws and community bylaws. Voting should be private and anonymous, and votes should be counted several times to ensure accuracy. Taking extra time to make sure everything is done carefully and by the book will help you to avoid any claims of vote mishandling or other violations. Creating a paper trail of everything you do will further help avoid this.
Annual elections are often a good time to celebrate successes within the community. Communicate good news such as winning candidates and changes in bylaws to the community owners so everyone is up-to-date and can celebrate the HOA’s successes together.
Transparent and fair elections are crucial for preserving residents’ trust in their HOA board. If you want to ensure that your Tacoma HOA is following all proper guidelines and protocols, contact your representative at The Management Trust for assistance. HOA community management can take the stress off of your HOA board members and handle all election-related matters. From avoiding legal trouble to guaranteeing resident satisfaction, the benefits of professional community association management services are numerous. To find out more about our full range of community management services, including HOA financial management, call The Management Trust at (253) 472-0825 or fill out our online contact form today.