HOA Election by Acclamation

October 5, 2022

There are occasions when a homeowners association (HOA) has an uncontested election because there are only the same number of candidates, or fewer, interested in running for a position on the HOA board. For example, if there are three openings on the board, and only three people who want to assume those roles, then a vote by acclamation for an HOA is triggered. 

In other words, the HOA does not need to go through many of the formal balloting processes and other formalities typically involved in an election. The three candidates are automatically elected and become part of the HOA board.

Some people agree with these expedited procedures when there is a lack of competition among candidates, while others don’t. Some states, such as California, have passed laws that spell out the terms and legality of an HOA election by acclamation so there is no debate on the purpose of acclamations or if this method of voting is legal.

This means that the HOA can save a considerable amount of time and avoid most of the costs associated with the balloting process when the election is uncontested and all candidates will be chosen, anyway.

Conditions That Must Be Satisfied With HOA Election by Acclamation

Anyone who wants to join an HOA board will want to know what ‘elected by acclamation' means in case they find themselves in this position. Every state is different, and every community HOA is different, so you need to carefully look at the HOA documents to see if it is covered. 

For example, the conditions for an election, and possibly an election by acclamation, are spelled out in an HOA policy. The documents are written for each community to reflect the number of units, amenities, restrictions, operations and other commitments and services that the association must manage. Small communities will have very different HOA policies than very large communities.

Some of the typical election terms you will see in an HOA document are:

1. The HOA must have held regular elections every three years.

2. The HOA must give notice to the members of the association that details the procedures for nominating candidates; this must also be made ninety days before the deadline set for submitting nominations. 

The notice may also need to include include the following:

  • The number of board positions set to be filed at the election
  • The deadline set for the submission of nominations
  • The process by which nominations can be submitted
  • A statement telling members that if the time period set aside for making nominations passes, and there are the same number or fewer qualified candidates as there are board positions to be filled, then the board of directors may place the candidates into the board by acclamation and without balloting 

For any member who submits a nomination for one of the director positions, the HOA must acknowledge receipt of the nomination within seven business days. It must also notify the nominee within seven business days whether they qualify as a candidate. If the person is rejected, the HOA must give reasons for the disqualification and detail the procedures for appealing the decision. 

When this is completed, the HOA sends a reminder notice of the election and procedures to members of the community. This occurs between seven and thirty days before the deadline date for submitting nominations. The notice must also contain the same information as the previous one and have a detailed list of the names of all qualified candidates set to fill the board positions as per the date indicated on the reminder notice.

After all the procedures and requirements are fulfilled, the HOA board must vote to consider the relevant candidates elected by acclamation at a meeting. The agenda items for the meeting will be the name of each qualified candidate who will be seated by acclamation in the event the person is approved.

Other Factors to Consider In an HOA Election by Acclamation

Regular election and election by acclamation procedures can be complicated, which is why some states stepped in to pass laws that set the parameters for an election by acclamation. The laws, however, do not replace any of the regular HOA meetings. Based on the specific HOA bylaws or covenants, conditions, and restrictions, there are most likely requirements that annual meetings be held for other purposes.

HOA boards and management officials also often consult with the HOA legal representatives to understand any new laws that might impact the community and its election procedures.

Final Thoughts

Based on state statutes and association documents, the election of board members is an absolute must. In most cases, annual membership meetings are where directors are elected. Ideally, there are more candidates running than the number of vacant seats on the board.

Elections by acclamation that required a secret ballot were an immense procedural burden to HOA administrators. It is also common for associations, especially small communities, to maintain the same board members for several consecutive years.

When there are formal state laws dictating the terms of an HOA election by acclamation, it is easier to reelect a standing board when no other members have expressed an interest or desire to join the board.

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