California Assembly Bill 502
Election of Directors by Acclamation
A common complaint heard throughout the California common interest development industry for years has been the legal requirement for Associations to hold Board Member elections even when the election is uncontested, meaning the number of candidate nominations is equal to or less than the number of Board Member seats up for election. Administering a Board Member election can be expensive and time consuming, and the entire process seems like a waste of resources when the outcome of the election is a foregone conclusion.
Two years ago, the California legislature addressed uncontested elections for very large Associations, consisting of 6,000+ units, passing legislation negating the need to hold a formal election when the number of candidate nominations received is equal to or less than the number of Board seats up for election, instead permitting the existing Board Members to elect the new Board Members via acclamation. Assembly Bill 502 attempts to address this same scenario for Associations with less than 6000 units.
Assembly Bill 502 supersedes anything contained in your Association’s governing documents. This new bill provides that when the number of qualified candidates is equal or less than the number of Board Member seats up for election, as determined by the Inspector of Election, the Association may, but is not required to, elect the candidates by acclamation, BUT several detailed conditions must be met, including the following:
- There must have been a “regular” election whereby quorum was met, and Directors were elected by secret ballot, within the last 3 years. In other words, the ability to elect Directors by acclamation cannot be in perpetuity.
- No less than sixty (60) days before sending the Call for Candidates mailer, the Association must mail individual notice by USPS to all members stating: a) the number of positions that will be filled at the upcoming election, b) the deadline for submitting nomination forms, c) the manner in which the nomination forms may be submitted, and d) a statement informing members of the Association’s intent to elect Directors via acclimation should the number of nomination forms received be equal to or less than the number of seats up for election.
- An additional notice must be mailed via USPS to all members seven (7) to thirty (30) days prior to the deadline for submitting candidate nomination forms reminding them of a) the number of positions that will be filled at the upcoming election, b) the deadline for submitting nomination forms, c) the manner in which the nomination forms may be submitted, and d) a statement informing members of the Association’s intent to elect Directors via acclimation should the number of nomination forms received be equal to or less than the number of seats up for election.
- Within seven (7) days of receiving a completed candidate nomination form, the Association must acknowledge receipt in writing (email is sufficient) to the sender. If the sender is the candidate, please see # 5 below.
- Within seven (7) days of receiving a completed candidate nomination form by the candidate wishing to run, the Association must acknowledge receipt in writing (email is sufficient) confirming that the candidate meets the qualifications to run, or if not, the basis for disqualifying and a method for appealing the decision to disqualify their nomination. ** See basis for qualifying candidates (#6 below).
- The Association must determine that candidates are qualified to serve on the Association Board of Directors, pursuant to Civil Code §5105(b) – (e) and the Association’s adopted Election Rules, including the qualifications to run and serve.
- Inspector of elections to determine whether the number of qualified candidates is less than or equal to the number of Director positions up for election.
- The existing Board of Directors then must vote to elect the qualified candidates by acclimation at a duly noticed open (general) session Board Meeting. The posted agenda must clearly state the name of each qualified candidate that the Board intends to elect by acclamation if the action is approved by a majority of the Board.
- Finally, as is currently the case, members must be provided notice of election results within 15 days following an election, whether it be a traditional election or an election by acclimation.
We are seeing that many qualified third-party election companies are providing proposals for both the option of administering a standard election and an election by acclimation. Keep in mind, however, that an election by acclimation takes a full 60 days longer to notice members in advance of sending out candidate statements than a typical election, so your Board will want to plan accordingly if this is an option your Association would like to pursue.
The glaring flaw with AB 502 is that the Association will clearly not know whether an election is contested until receiving candidate statements, yet by then it is too late to pursue election by acclimation. That said, if historical data indicates widespread apathy amongst the membership, it may make sense to pursue election by acclimation.
If you have any questions or feedback that you would like to share regarding this educational piece, please feel free to contact Brad Watson, President & CEO of PMP Management at email@example.com.