What Does ‘Elected By Acclamation’ Mean?

October 5, 2022

For many people, the term ‘vote by acclamation' or 'elected by acclamation' is not something that they don’t come across regularly and may be unfamiliar. In simple terms, it essentially refers to an uncontested election where the number of candidates equals (or is less than) the number of seats that are vacant. As a result, the outcome of the balloting process is totally predictable, thereby eliminating the need to go through the process of mailing and counting votes.

Another way to look at the election by acclamation framework is that it is a form of election that does not use a ballot. Understanding such elements will also help you when you come across specific elections, such as an HOA election by acclamation.

How Election by Acclamation Was Formalized

The election by acclamation process varies from state to state and community to community. California recently passed a law that spells out the terms for having an election by acclamation for communities with more than 6,000 homes.

The way it works is simple. For instance, let’s say that your community has ten board seats opening up for election this year, but there are only ten people who stepped forward to run for those positions. Instead of going through the formal balloting process, you can declare the candidates elected. This is done because it is obvious what the results will be as there is only one possible outcome—each candidate will get a seat. 

Requirements of Election by Acclamation

The California election by acclamation legislation, called Assembly Bill 502, went into effect on January 1st, 2022.  However, to take advantage of the acclamation process, the association has to meet certain pre-ballot requirements that can be time-consuming to address. The time and paperwork involved is something that some associations tend to frown upon when it comes to an election by acclamation. 

That said, an acclamation election can only occur if an association has held regular director elections at least once in the previous three years. These associations can only have elections determined by acclamation two out of every three years.

The association also has to provide additional notices to the community membership for an election by acclamation to be legal. Election and selection procedures for the nomination of candidates requires that the notification be made within ninety days before the nomination deadline. It must also include specific information like:

  1. The deadline set for submitting nominations
  2. The number of board positions that are set to be filled at the election
  3. How nominations can be raised
  4. The provision of a statement–this is to tell members that the board may seat the qualified candidates by acclamation without balloting after the voting

What’s Next?

Once the above processes are completed, a reminder notice has to be sent between seven and thirty days before the nomination deadline. This notice will contain all the same information as the original notice, and it will include a list of all of the candidates who qualified.

It’s important to remember that these notices must now be delivered by email to the individual members of the community; the only exception is for homeowners who did not agree to receiving communications via electronic means. The association will also be required to confirm that members received the information within seven business days. They must then notify a nominee within the same timeframe whether they managed to qualify as a candidate–if this is not the case, then the association must provide the reason for the candidate's disqualification and detail the procedure of the appeal process.

Finally, once all the proper notices have been issued, and reasonable procedures followed, the board will have to vote to consider the qualified candidates elected by acclamation. This will be done at a special meeting, during which the agenda must reflect the names of each eligible candidate who will be seated by acclamation.

In Summary 

Even though elections by acclamation can make the appointment process much easier and cost effective, experts agree that much of these savings are offset by the inclusion of additional notices and information that have to be provided. This usually means an extra sixty days to an already prolonged election timeline. These notices have to be sent by mail, unless community members submit a request to receive them electronically. 

By passing formal legislation, California took out a lot of the guesswork and clarified discrepancies that were known to arise from elections by acclamation–perhaps the California model will be used by other states to enact their own election by acclamation laws.

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