Articles Posted in Elections

The 2009 Condominium Bluebook by Branden Bickel and D. Andrew Sirkin has been published and will soon be available to the general public. The Bluebook is a useful tool for California homeowner associations, providing quick reference to state statutes and court cases, as well as useful forms for required notices and other documents.

This year’s Bluebook contains a form (at Chapter 17) entitled “Model Election Rules” which we do not believe is suitable for most associations to simply reproduce and adopt as their election rules as required by Civil Code Section 1363.03. In fact, we doubt that any form election rules could possibly be created to suit all California homeowner associations because election rules are subject to an association’s CC&Rs and Bylaws. The provisions in CC&Rs and Bylaws applicable to the election rules vary widely from one association to the next. Following are just a few examples of why we believe the Bluebook’s form election rules are erroneous:
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I, along with over 70% of other California citizens, have or will vote today (11/4/08). And then, not wanting to pass up a good deal, I went to my local Starbucks for my free cup of joe. That’s right, Starbucks offered a free cup of coffee to anyone that came in with proof that they voted. Then I saw an article on the Internet indicating that the prize offer was a violation of federal election laws and I had a brainstorm. While it may be a violation of federal law to give someone a gift or prize for voting, it is not a violation of law for a community association to offer free food or some other incentive to get owners to vote. However, unless written into your governing documents (and even then I question whether it’s enforceable), community associations cannot fine or penalize a homeowner for not turning in their ballot or voting. Why? Because most CC&Rs provide associations with the power to make rules regarding use of a common area and there is nothing in California law or in any governing documents I’ve seen which would give a Board of Directors the power or authority to penalize a homeowner for not voting. If you are having difficulty getting owners to vote and cannot make a quorum, offer free food or maybe even a certificate for a free cup of copy at a local coffee house (and make sure it is in the budget).

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