Cumulative Voting for Community Associations
Electing the right people to the leadership board of your community association is essential for success. Board elections present the opportunity to vote the right people in and the wrong people out, depending upon the view of association members. For associations with cumulative voting, the election can result in a tug-of-war between members who want change and those who do not. To better understand cumulative voting and whether it is right for your association, it is important to define it and to study the associated benefits and risks.
What is Cumulative Voting?
An association election that allows cumulative voting changes the way votes is cast. For example, eligible voters receive the same number of votes as the number of board positions. If there are three open board positions, then each voter receives three votes.
Cumulative voting allows voters to cast all of their allotted votes to one candidate, therefore giving their vote more weight. How that weight tips the scales in terms of board dynamics is what concerns industry leaders. Experts cite there are both benefits and risks to cumulative voting and that overall, the risks outweigh the benefits.
Benefits, Risks, and Potential Legal Issues
One key benefit of cumulative voting is the opportunity for the minority to obtain a seat on the board. In this case, the minority does not refer to race, gender, or religion, but rather to that segment of the association that feel they aren't fairly represented.
The same benefit is also a potential risk. With association members allowed to use all their votes for one candidate, the majority may continue to serve if the vote is "stacked" in their favor.
In many states, cumulative voting is illegal. Only those associations with antiquated bylaws allowing cumulative voting are grandfathered. Whether cumulative voting is allowed depends upon state law and regulations.
Arizona, for example, banned cumulative voting in 2005 except for those associations with bylaws that predate the law. Florida associations that want to allow cumulative voting must amend their bylaws to do so while California distinctly allows cumulative voting.
Is Cumulative Voting Right for Your HOA?
Deciding whether cumulative voting is right for your HOA depends upon state laws and association bylaws. Industry leaders warn that such voting methods often prevent new blood from joining the board. Getting enough board members to serve, as volunteers, is challenging enough. Keeping the same ones in place forever can delay and prevent the success of your HOA.
Strong leadership is an essential element for creating thriving communities. It is a delicate balance in keeping those willing to serve and adding new members with fresh ideas to the mix. In order to obtain a well-balanced board, association's must rethink their stance on cumulative voting.
As a professional property management company, we have years of experience working with HOA boards. While any election process is challenging, we believe consistent communication between board and association members is essential to success.
Our role is to provide exceptional property management while guiding and supporting board leadership. An example of the services we provide includes:
- Budget management
- Project planning and management
- Covenants and restriction enforcement in a fair and consistent manner
- Assisting the board with effective community management
- Foster great vendor relationships
- Assist with board communication to keep members informed and engaged
No matter what election method members use to elect board leadership, RealManage provides much-needed support once the board is in place. If your association is seeking the professional services of a property management company, contact us. We'll put our experience and knowledge to work and help your association thrive.