With nearly 74 million people residing in homeowners associations (HOAs) across the United States, annual elections play an important role in the vibrancy of these communities.
In a previous piece, we broke down the HOA election process and the critical role these member-based associations play in the everyday lives of their residents. To help HOA members better grasp what voting entails, we’re going to explain the elements of a voting ballot and provide a brief overview of HOA elections.
What Does A Homeowners Association Voting Ballot Contain?
First, some basics: HOA elections typically occur during annual meetings. That’s when members gather to discuss important matters and elect members of the board, which generally includes a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.
Depending on the voting method, HOA members generally cast paper or electronic ballots. It’s customary for many HOAs to perform on-site elections, though for associations with thousands of members, bringing everyone together in one space may be unrealistic. That’s why larger HOAs offer mailed ballots that are sent to members’ homes, allowing them to vote at their own leisure.
Electronic ballots—or e-proxies—have become more popular in recent years because of associated cost-savings and the convenience of casting a ballot over the internet. (As we write this, much of the United States and other nations are in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has restricted most HOAs from hosting on-site elections. As a result, most have transitioned to paper or e-proxies, which are considered safer alternatives.)
Now, let’s examine what an HOA ballot looks like:
- First, it’s important to note that HOAs are governed by their respective bylaws and governing documents—meaning what works for one HOA may be different than another. Moreover, HOAs are regulated by state laws, which vary across the country.
- In most cases, ballots contain names of each candidate vying for a seat on the HOAs board.
- In addition to the named candidates, some ballots may include blank spaces for “write-in candidates.”
- Along with listing candidates, ballots need to include pertinent information, including how many candidates to vote for. If you’re administering a mail-in election, the ballot should provide instructions for properly sealing and returning it.
- Some elections may also include proposals that may be put up to a vote. If this is the case, then the ballot would clearly state the issue members are asked to decide on.
HOA Election Basics
As we documented in our guide to HOA elections, HOAs must produce a budget for the contest and execute a transparent nomination process. As for the latter, candidates can be nominated by their fellow members, by volunteering or through the signature collection. Candidate eligibility depends on the HOAs bylaws and rules established by the state you’re operating in.
In terms of the budget, when determining how much to spend, it’s prudent to compare election methods as some may be cheaper than others. E-proxies, for example, don’t require paper ballots or mailing services, eliminating the most expensive elements of mailed voting.
If you’re not yet committed to completely transitioning to online elections, some election management agencies offer hybrid models that incorporate paper and e-proxies.
As for voting eligibility, homeowners who are members of the association are permitted to vote. When election day rolls around, most HOAs require a quorum—a minimum number of voters—in order for the election to be valid. Depending on your HOA, members may be able to vote through a proxy who casts a ballot on that person’s behalf.
YesElections' HOA Election Services
YesElections is a full-service election management agency serving HOAs and a variety of other member-based organizations. Through paper or e-proxies, YesElections administers secure and stress-free elections. To learn more about our HOA election services, schedule a free consultation.