Election Rules

Associations are required to adopt election rules that comply with the requirements set forth in Civil Code Section 5105 in order to conduct any association election that requires the use of secret ballots. (Civ. Code § 5105(a).) To satisfy those requirements, the election rules must:

  • Provide Equal Access to Association Media – The election rules must ensure that if any candidate or member advocating a point of view is provided access to association media (i.e., newsletters, websites, etc.) during a complain “for purposes that are reasonable related to that election,” equal access must also be provided to all candidates and members advocating a point of view, including those not endorsed by the board, for purposes that are reasonably related to the election. (Civ. Code § 5105(a)(1); See also “Equal Access During Campaigns.”) The association may not edit or redact any content from those communications, but may include a statement specifying that the candidate or member is responsible for the content, not the association. (Civ. Code § 5105(a)(1).)
  • Provide Access to Common Area Meeting Space – The election rules must ensure access to the association’s common area meeting space (if any exists) during a campaign at no cost, to all candidates (including non-incumbents), and to all members advocating a point of view (including those not endorsed by the board), for purposes reasonably related to the election. (Civ. Code § 5105(a)(2); See also “Equal Access During Campaigns.”)
  • Specify Candidate Qualifications – The election rules must specify the qualifications for candidates for the board and any other elected position, consistent with the association’s governing documents. (Civ. Code § 5105(a)(3); See also “Director Qualifications.”)
  • Specify Nomination Procedures – The election rules must specify the procedures for the nomination of candidates, consistent with the association’s governing documents. A nomination or election procedure is not reasonable if it disallows any member from nominating himself or herself for election to the board. (Civ. Code § 5105(a)(3); See also “Candidate Nomination.”)
  • Specify Qualifications for Voting – The election rules must specify the qualifications for voting, the voting power of each membership, the authenticity, validity, and effect of proxies, and the voting period for elections, including the times at which polls will open and close, consistent with the association’s governing documents. (Civ. Code § 5105(a)(4).)
  • Specify Method of Selecting Inspector(s) of Elections – The election rules must specify a method of selecting the association’s inspector(s) of elections, utilizing one of the following methods: (a) appointment of the inspector(s) by the board, (b) election of the inspector(s) by the membership, or (c) any other method for selecting the inspector(s). (Civ. Code § 5105(a)(5); See also “Inspectors of Elections.”)
  • Allow Inspector(s) to Appoint/Oversee Additional Persons – The election rules must allow for the inspector(s) of elections to appoint and oversee additional persons to verify signatures and to count and tabulate votes as the inspector or inspectors deem appropriate, provided that the persons are “independent third parties” within the meaning of Civil Code Section 5110(b). (Civ. Code § 5105(a)(6); See also “Inspectors of Elections.”)

Floor Nominations & Write-Ins
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the election rules may provide for the nomination of candidates from the floor of membership meetings or nomination by any other matter; those rules may also permit write-in candidates for ballots. (Civ. Code § 5105(b); See also “Candidate Nomination.”)

Adopting & Amending Election Rules
Election rules are “operating rules” within the meaning of Civil Code Section 4355. (Civ. Code § 4355(a)(7).) As such, they may be adopted and amended by the board without membership approval provided that the required amendment procedure mandated by Civil Code Section 4360 is followed (i.e., providing the membership with thirty (30) days notice of a proposed amendment to the election rules). (See “Adopting & Amending Operating Rules.”)

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Related Case Law

  • Wittenburg v. Beachwalk Homeowners Association
    (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 654

    [Elections; Equal Access] Where a board utilizes HOA media to advocate its point of view regarding an upcoming election, equal access to such media must also be provided to any member advocating a point of view on the issue.

  • Friars Village Homeowners Assn. v. Hansing
    (2013) 220 Cal. App. 4th 405

    [Election Rules; Director Qualifications] Court upheld association’s authority to adopt election rules which prohibited closely-related members from being nominated to serve as directors.