SB 323 - Elections: Felons, Access, and Redress

Bill Author: 
Wieckowski
Subject: 
Elections: Felons, Access, and Redress
Status: 
In Senate Judiciary

Felons, Access to Ballots, Right to View Vote Tabluation

Existing law requires a homeowner’s association to adopt rules that, among other things, specify the qualifications for candidates for the board of directors of the association and any other elected position, 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 governing documents. The act requires the sealed ballots to be at all times in the custody of the inspector or inspectors of elections or at a designated location until after the tabulation of the vote.

This bill would, among other things, require an association to disqualify a person from nomination as a candidate for not being a member at the time of nomination and for being convicted of certain felonies, and would authorize an association to disqualify a person from being nominated or from serving on the board for specified reasons, including the failure to pay regular assessments. The bill would require the rules to ensure that the meeting at which ballots are counted is accessible to all members or their representatives who want to witness the tabulation and that it is held at a common area meeting space of association property or within a reasonable distance from the property. The bill would also require the rules to require a notice to be provided regarding the return and counting of ballots, nominations, and list of candidates’ names that will appear on the ballot. The bill would require the rules to mandate that the inspector of elections deliver to each member the ballots and a copy of the election operating rules at least 30 days before an election. The bill would require these rules to prohibit the denial of a ballot to a member and to a person with general power of attorney for an owner. This bill would require the sealed ballots, signed voter envelopes, voter list, proxies, and candidate registration list to be in the custody of the inspector of elections or at a designated location until after vote tabulation and would, with certain exceptions, require these association election materials to be considered association records, as defined, subject to inspection and copying.

Prohibition of Management Company Acting as Inspector of Elections

Existing law requires an independent 3rd party to be selected by the association as the inspector of elections and prohibits a person, business entity, or subdivision of a business entity that is employed or under contract to the association for any compensable services from being an independent 3rd party unless otherwise expressly authorized by the rules of the association.

This bill would delete the exception made by rules of the association.

Right to Contest Election in Superior Court

Existing law authorizes a member of an association to bring a civil action for declaratory or equitable relief for a violation of the above-described provisions by the association within one year from the date the cause of action accrues and authorizes a court to void the election results, as specified. Existing law also authorizes a cause of action for certain violations of the provisions governing common interest development association elections to be brought in small claims court.

This bill would, among other things, authorize the civil action to be brought in superior court or, if the amount of the demand does not exceed the jurisdictional amount of the small claims court, in small claims court, within one year from the date that the inspector of elections notifies the board and membership of the election results, whichever is later. The bill would also require the court to void the elections results, as specified, unless the association establishes that noncompliance by the association was unintentional and did not affect the results of the election. The bill would also prohibit an association from filing a civil action regarding a dispute in which the member has requested dispute resolution unless the association has complied with the internal dispute resolution procedures governing common interest developments, as specified.

Addition of Email Addresses to Definition of Association Records

Existing law defines association records to include membership lists, including name, property address, and mailing address, as specified.

This bill would include email addresses among the records that are defined as association records.

Requirement that an Election Be Held at Least Every Four Years

Under existing law, elections regarding common interest development assessments that legally require a vote, election and removal of directors, amendments to the governing documents, or the grant of exclusive use of common area are required to be held by secret ballot in accordance with specified procedures.

This bill would require those elections to be held at minimum every four years.