No, You Cannot Fine Owners For Not Voting; But How About A Gift If They Do?!

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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