Democratic elections, No. 5
HOA members have been repeatedly told that they can change things in their HOA by voting for board members and even by changing the governing documents; that HOAs are democratic because members can vote to make these changes happen. Well, does that make real sense when we know that countries like China and Cuba allow their people to vote? Yes, the people are allowed to vote, but no one would think to call these countries democratic. Use your common sense! You are being conned!
HOA members should read my discussion of the California case holding the HOA to have violated the law on fair elections procedures in Wittenberg v. Beachwalk HOA.[i] Such activities as only containing the board’s view of candidates, continuing holding elections until the board wins, and not allowing equal access for ‘town hall’ meetings by members.
Why is it that this country would participate in seeing that fair elections take place in other countries, but do nothing for the 23% of the American population living in HOAs? While a few states like California have detailed statutes dealing with HOA elections, most do not have an oversight entity watching the elections as undertaken with these foreign country’s elections. Worst of all, generally it is the HOA attorney or HOA manager who tally and report on the voting, but both cannot be seen as independent observers or neutral parties. They are both agents of the HOA and not the membership. That is like having a business’ attorney overseeing union elections.
Furthermore, the defenses of voting the bums out and changing the governing documents are without merit. These defenses reflect the erroneous implicit attitude that HOAs are the same as public entities. They are not! The HOA’s “constitution and laws” are contained in an agreement between a single member and the HOA. To say that “you”, a single member, can change governing documents or vote the bums out misstates the law and the single member’s ability or right to accomplish this goal. The member needs the assistance, the cooperation and votes of other members in order to accomplish these changes.
Without fair elections procedures that contain enforcement against HOA board wrongful acts, including retaliatory acts and intimidation by the board, voting in an HOA is a mockery of democracy. Is this HOA government better than public government? Common sense tells us no!
10 thoughts on “HOA Common Sense, No. 5: Democratic elections”
My HOA changes the election rules every year. If the “wrong” people are running for the board they don’t allow campaigning. If the “right” candidates are running for the board they use the dues of the community to mail out the campaign information. For decades the same guy was the president and he ran the elections and counted the votes. He was re-elected many times over his 26 year reign in office and only left due to death. This same guy restricted those who were not paying their dues to being allowed to vote if they paid their dues in full….with CASH only payments! Thousands of dollars in cash that somehow never made it to the bank accounts.
When I bought in here, I immediately figured out what was going on. Over 500 homeowners and nobody had noticed anything “fishy” about all this for the past quarter century?!
That is how apathetic HOA members can be. When some of us decided to do some serious investigating as to the procedures in the HOA, this same board president suddenly dropped dead. At the same time he was running for the board of an HOA in Carlsbad, California where he had just purchased two properties.
And the majority of my neighbors still think he was doing a great job as president even though to this day we still have $10M unaccounted for from his days as board president. We had $500K in unpaid bills after his death. And now we are saddled with a $1M loan.
Warning! When somebody wants to serve on the volunteer board for twenty-six of their sixty years of life…turn on your suspicious radar!!!