Homeowners Association (HOA) elections are critical for the effective functioning of an HOA. HOA members elect their representatives to make decisions on their behalf, and it is essential to ensure that the election process is fair and transparent. One critical aspect of HOA elections is preserving voter anonymity, which can be accomplished by separating the outer envelope from the secret ballot envelope in advance of the ballot-counting meeting.
Opening Outer Envelopes in Advance
At Pro Elections
, we advise our HOA clients to open the outer envelopes in advance of the ballot-counting meeting. This approach preserves voter anonymity while still following the letter and spirit of California Civil Code 5120(a), which states that “any ballot” shall not be opened before the meeting at which ballots are counted.
It is essential to note that the statute does not prohibit opening the outer envelope, only the ballot envelope. Separating the outer envelope from the inner secret ballot envelope in advance of the ballot-counting meeting preserves voter anonymity, as the ballot envelope can be opened during the meeting without any identifying information being revealed.
Preserving Voter Anonymity
Separating the outer envelope from the inner secret ballot envelope is critical for preserving voter anonymity in HOA elections. The two-envelope system is designed to ensure that the ballot is separated from any identifying information about the voter. By opening the outer envelope in advance, HOA election inspectors
can ensure that the ballot is not compromised by any identifying information during the counting process.
The Importance of Accommodating Client Preferences
We understand that each HOA has unique needs and preferences, and we are always happy to accommodate our clients’ wishes. If our clients prefer that both the outer and inner envelopes be opened at the ballot-counting meeting, we are happy to oblige. However, we believe that separating the outer envelope from the inner secret ballot envelope in advance is more consistent with the letter and spirit of the two-envelope system and SB 323