Friday, November 10, 2006

Coto de Caza 2006 District Delegate and BOD elections - and 2007 Special Assessment and Elections

Coto de Caza 2006 District Delegate and BOD elections - and 2007 Special Assessment and Elections

October 1, 2006

During the 2006 Coto de Caza District Delegate elections, the property manage sent ballots with the wrong district – even after being told of the error, did anyone with the property management company or the board did anything about it to correct the situation. Then the board of directors and property management company employees actively solicited votes and delegate candidates who may be partial to the current board. Candidates partial to the board were collecting signatures after ballot due dates, with consent of the board and legal counsel.

For the board of directors, the board and property management company neglected to keep residents current with information about the number of candidates – advantage status quo due to cumulative voting.

California's Election Code prohibits persons from soliciting votes or electioneering at any time a voter may be casting a ballot. Solicitation or influencing votes is prohibited in a voter’s residence, in a voter’s presence, or during the time that a voter is known to be voting. Elections Code §18371. As provided for in the Election Code, any solicitation or attempt to influence a voter under these sections is guilty of a misdemeanor. The same rules against solicitation and electioneering should apply to associations so that members can vote without intimidation or undue influence.

It should be noted that although owners may solicit proxies, it is improper to solicit ballots, to mark other owners' ballots, or to engage in electioneering when a voter may be casting a ballot.

The new election requirements under the Davis-Stirling Act require that all associations adopt election rules and that the rules set standards for fair elections. Civ.Code 1363.03(e) of the Civil Code requires associations to use a secret ballot system and use as a model the same procedures used by California for ensuring the confidentiality of the balloting process. State law sets clear guidelines for preventing absentee ballots from being solicited, influenced, or interfered with by interested parties.

Homeowners campaigning for or against special assessments, election of directors, removal of directors, or the like cannot induce owners to divert ballots away from the Inspectors of Election. Both the Election Code and the Davis-Stirling Act require that voters either mail or deliver their ballots in person to election officials. Elections Code §3017, Civ.Code 1363.03(e)(2). Alternatively, a voter may vote an absentee ballot in person on the day of the election before the close of the polls. Elections Code §3018. The voter must vote the ballot either in the presence of an election official, or in a voting booth at the official’s discretion, "but in no case may his or her vote be observed." The same standards apply to association elections.

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