There was a bill that went into effect last year which allowed communities containing 6,000 or more units to take advantage of a process known as “Election by Acclamation”.
For those unfamiliar with that term, it essentially means that if you have an uncontested election where you have the same number of candidates running for election as there are open seats, then you already know the outcome of the election and don’t need to go through the process of mailing and counting ballots.
For example, if your community has five director seats up for election this year and there are only five (or less) people running to fill those seats, then you can just declare them elected at that point without going through the balloting process since there’s only really one outcome possible.
The good news is that earlier this month, Assembly Bill 502 was passed and signed into law which will allow all associations of any size to take advantage of this election by acclamation process beginning on January 1, 2022. The bad news is that, in order to take advantage of the acclamation process, the association will need to meet a few additional pre-ballot notice requirements.
First, elections by acclamation can only be used if the association has held a regular director election at least once in the past three years. Meaning that associations can only have elections decided by acclamation two out of every three years.
Next, the association must provide additional notices to the membership for the acclamation option to be available. The notice of the election and the procedure for nominating candidates now must be provided least ninety (90) days before the nomination deadline, and must include:
- The number of board positions that will be filled at the election,
- The deadline for submitting nominations,
- The manner in which nominations can be submitted, and
- A statement informing members that the board may, after voting to do so, seat the qualified candidates by acclamation without balloting.
After that, a reminder notice must be provided between seven and thirty days before the nomination deadline, which contains all the same information as the original notice, as well as a list of the names of all of the qualified candidates as of the date of the reminder notice.
It is important to keep in mind that these notices now must be provided via individual delivery, meaning by mail, unless the homeowners have consented to receive such notices electronically.
The association is now also required to confirm receipt of any nomination within seven business days; and the association must notify a nominee within seven business days as to whether they are qualified to be a candidate and, if not, the reason for the disqualification and the procedure to appeal the decision.
Finally, at the end of all this the board must vote to consider the qualified candidates elected by acclamation at a meeting for which the agenda item reflects the name of each qualified candidate that will be seated by acclamation if the item is approved.
So, while the elections by acclamation process can make your elections easier and more cost effective, much of this savings has been offset by the additional notices and information which now needs to be provided, which will add another sixty days to an already drawn-out election timeline. Also, these notices need to be sent by mail, unless your members have requested to received them electronically, so our suggestion would be to work to get your homeowners to consent to receive electronic notices to reduce some of this added cost.
One last point to note regarding electionsis that term limits for directors have been added back to the list of allowable board eligibility qualifications. Term limits were unintentionally removed when SB323 went into effect in 2020, but now we are safe to impose term limits again if desired.
If you have any questions regarding the elections by acclamation process, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.