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Subject: Questionable HOA Board Elections
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Author Messages
PegM1
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:26


10/14/2021 10:50 AM  
Hello to all!

I am attempting to gather information/data regarding questionable HOA Board elections. I'm asking for descriptions and comments from any HOA member who has experienced "shady" or corrupt HOA Board elections. In Pennsylvania we have a House bill pending that would increase transparency and accountability of the Board election process. I am trying to determine just how common questionable/contested/corrupt Board elections may be.

I would like to hear from other homeowners who have been through a crooked election process. I'm trying to get an idea of how prevalent HOA election problems are and to gather details outlining what happened in contested elections.

Input from any and all of you is very much appreciated and all comments/information is welcome. Thank you!


CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2573


10/14/2021 11:46 AM  
To get an idea of how prevalent the problem is, you also need to hear from those who've had no problems.

You also need to define your terms. What do you mean by "shady" or "corrupt"? And there is a difference between something that looks a little off vs. something that's flat out prohibited by state law.

The other issue is that you need to distinguish between the mechanics of the election itself vs. all of the things leading up to the election. Skillful operators can change the outcome of an election through the use of things that have nothing to do with the election per se. This is called politics. And these can't be quantified easily.

Many inexperienced HOA members think normal HOA practices are shady because they don't understand how HOAs work. An example of this is the use of proxies. Some states allow them, others may not. It's also perfectly OK for board candidates to go around and solicit proxies - they're essentially asking for others' votes. This can look shady, but in and of itself it's not (offering a quid pro quo in exchange for someone's proxy is).

Another example of a problem is the use of a nominating committee. Some states such as Florida ban the use of such committees for condo communities. My bylaws require us to have a nominating committee. These committees can be used to broaden the candidate pool or to keep out "undesirables". Shady or not? It depends on context.

FWIW, my community hasn't had any issues with the mechanics of our elections but one or two other things maybe deserve some side eye. Nothing that would justify running for a lawyer, though.





DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1687


10/14/2021 1:08 PM  
Based on posts I've seen here, a lot of the shady associations are ones where boards keep serving for years without even announcing an election or keeping it low key enough that a quorum is never reached for the annual meeting.

A lot of those posts are from people who come here for advice or to vent and then disappear from here, so most of them would not still be around to reply. A common thread seems to be that they have no real recourse except to sue which is an expensive and time consuming step that most don't or can't go through with. Any law that doesn't provide an enforcement method other than the courts is probably not going to be of much benefit.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2573


10/14/2021 1:49 PM  
DouglasK1 makes good points.

Aside from the regular posters here who are mostly current and former board members and property managers, many/most of the people who post questions are unhappy about something. This would skew the results if you try to poll folks about their experiences.

Recently many of the complaints about elections is "they ain't happenin'". The pandemic is to blame for some of this, as is the lack of volunteers to serve on the board - but these things can provide cover for the board members who want to hold onto power.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11638


10/14/2021 1:55 PM  
It is difficult to say if a BOD is using the rules or breaking them to stay in power. Often those complaining do not understand how things operate, especially many of the first time posters. Do not look for the government to look out for you.

The one common use of rules, and the one most understood thing, is the use of Proxies. I love Proxies, but the use of them has to be properly understood. Several general pointers:

1. Anyone can draw up a Proxy. They do not have to use the one the BOD sent out. Usually the one the BOD sends out is slanted to grant them your vote. Your proxy can be on toilet paper.

2. The last dated Proxy is the one that counts. Does not matter how many earlier ones exist.

3. One can give a Proxy then show up at the meeting to vote. If they do, the Proxy is voided.

4. One can go around the neighborhood collecting Proxies made out to themselves and vote them. Few have a limit on how many one can collect.

5. A Proxy can be Direct which orders the person holding (voting) to vote the way you told them to on the Proxy.

6. A Proxy can be General which allows the person holding (voting) to vote as they wish. This is most misused type. Generally given out by the BOD allowing the BOD to vote as they see fit thus retaining power.

7. A proxy can be a combination of Directed and General.

One other way BOD's stay in power is to not have a Quorum at the Annual Meetings thus no business can be done including no elections. The existing BOD stays in place. Without Proxies my HOA (112) owners would not make the Quorum (23) we need to do business.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11638


10/14/2021 2:01 PM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 10/14/2021 11:46 AM
To get an idea of how prevalent the problem is, you also need to hear from those who've had no problems.

You also need to define your terms. What do you mean by "shady" or "corrupt"? And there is a difference between something that looks a little off vs. something that's flat out prohibited by state law.

The other issue is that you need to distinguish between the mechanics of the election itself vs. all of the things leading up to the election. Skillful operators can change the outcome of an election through the use of things that have nothing to do with the election per se. This is called politics. And these can't be quantified easily.

Many inexperienced HOA members think normal HOA practices are shady because they don't understand how HOAs work. An example of this is the use of proxies. Some states allow them, others may not. It's also perfectly OK for board candidates to go around and solicit proxies - they're essentially asking for others' votes. This can look shady, but in and of itself it's not (offering a quid pro quo in exchange for someone's proxy is).

Another example of a problem is the use of a nominating committee. Some states such as Florida ban the use of such committees for condo communities. My bylaws require us to have a nominating committee. These committees can be used to broaden the candidate pool or to keep out "undesirables". Shady or not? It depends on context.

FWIW, my community hasn't had any issues with the mechanics of our elections but one or two other things maybe deserve some side eye. Nothing that would justify running for a lawyer, though.





Well said. Without Proxies, we would not make Quorum thus no election. As we allow nominations from the floor, we did away with a nominating committee. We do not know who is running until we ask for nominations. Our MC runs our election at the Annual Meeting. Come voting, time he asks for two owners to volunteer to help with/over see the ballot count.
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