Balloting Requirements & Procedures

Where a matter to be voted on by the association’s members requires the use of a secret ballot, the following balloting procedures must be utilized in order to preserve the confidentiality of the vote and to comply with other legal requirements contained in the Davis-Stirling Act:

Ballot with 2 Preaddressed Envelopes
Ballots and two (2) preaddressed envelopes must be mailed by first class mail or delivered by the association to every member not less than thirty (30) days prior to the deadline for voting. Instructions on how a member may return his/her ballot must also be included. (Civ. Code § 5115(a).)

  • First Sealed Envelope – The ballot itself is not signed by the voter, but is inserted into the first envelope that is sealed. (Civ. Code § 5115(a)(1).)
  • Second Signed & Sealed Envelope – the first sealed envelope is inserted into a second envelope that is sealed. In the upper left hand corner of the second envelope, the voter must sign and indicate the voter’s name, as well as indicate the address or separate interest identifier that entitles the voter to vote. (Civ. Code § 5115(a)(1).) The second envelope is addressed to the association’s inspector(s) of elections who ultimately tabulates the votes. (Civ. Code § 5115(a)(2).) The envelope may be mailed or delivered by hand to a location specified by the inspector(s) of elections, and the member may request a receipt for delivery. (Civ. Code § 5115(a)(2).)

Proposed Governing Document Amendment
If the vote is being conducted to approve amendments of the association’s governing documents (i.e., a CC&R amendment), the text of the proposed amendments must be delivered to the members with the ballot. (Civ. Code § 5115(e).)

If a quorum is required by the governing documents, each ballot received by the inspector(s) of elections must be treated as a member present at a meeting for purposes of establishing quorum. (Civ. Code § 5115(b).)

Counting Ballots & Tabulating Votes

Meeting Required – Even if the election is being conducted entirely by mail, all ballots must be counted and tabulated by the association’s inspector(s) of elections, or by the designee of the inspector(s) of elections, in public at a properly noticed open board meeting or membership meeting. (Civ. Code § 5120(a).) No person, member of the association, or employee of the association’s management company may open or otherwise review any ballot prior to the time and place where the ballots are being counted and tabulated. (Civ. Code § 5120(a).) The inspector(s) of elections, or the designee of the inspector(s) of elections, may verify the member’s information and signature on the outer envelope prior to the meeting where the ballots will be counted. (Civ. Code § 5120(a).)

Observing the Counting – Any candidate or member of the association may witness the counting of the ballots and tabulation of the votes. (Civ. Code § 5120(a).)

Ballots are Irrevocable
Once a secret ballot is received by the association’s inspector(s) of election, the ballot is irrevocable. (Civ. Code § 5120(a).)

Reporting Results
Once the votes are counted, the tabulated results must: (Civ. Code § 5120(b).)

  • Be promptly reported to the board;
  • Recorded in the minutes of the next board meeting; and
  • Be available for review by the association’s members.

Within fifteen (15) days of the election, the board must also give general notice of the tabulated results. (Civ. Code § 5120(b).)

Custody of Ballots
The sealed ballots must at all times be in the custody of the association’s inspector(s) of election or at a location designated by the inspector(s) of elections until after the tabulation of the vote, and until the time allowed by Civil Code Section 5145 for challenging the election has expired (one year). (Civ. Code § 5125; See also “Legal Challenge to Election.”) Once that time has expired, the custody of the ballots must be transferred from the inspector(s) of elections to the association. (Civ. Code § 5125.) If there is a recount or other challenge to the election process, the inspector(s) of elections must, upon written request, make the ballots available for inspection and review by any member of the association or the member’s authorized representative. (Civ. Code § 5125; See also “Inspection of Ballots.”)