guest blog by Deborah Goonan
I follow think tanks from both ends of the spectrum, so I can learn how people see important issues from different perspectives. A few days ago, a Cato article on a proposed Voting Rights Amendment came up in my news feed. (See link below)
But while Americans debate the pros and cons of issuing Voter IDs – do they prevent voter fraud, or do they disenfranchise minority voters? – Nobody wants to talk about universal voting rights for residents of HOAs.
That’s nearly 65 million voters, many of them disenfranchised by corporate voting systems that allocate votes per “unit” or “share” owned, Representative Voting Councils, heavy use of proxy ballots, and many unmonitored election processes. Let’s face it. In many HOAs, voting is rigged – in ways that are sometimes technically legal.
Under the current voting system in place in HOAs:
· Investors can simply “bulk buy” control of the Board,
· Developers can hang onto control of their affiliate-appointed Board for years or even decades due to various legal loopholes,
· Board members can intimidate owners into giving up their proxy votes,
· Ballot boxes can be stuffed, mail ballots “lost” or otherwise mishandled
· Owners who are delinquent on their accounts for any reason (even fabricated) cannot vote,
· A handful of Voting Members can legally vote on behalf of hundreds or thousands of owners without any input, and
· Tenants are almost always not allowed to vote even though they have to follow all of the same rules and create equity for their landlord-owners.
As a result of such shenanigans, millions of Americans are subject to the whims of their often-unaccountable HOA Boards. Collectively, HOA residents stand to lose millions of dollars in wasted or misappropriated assessments, their rights guaranteed under the Constitution, and, in too many cases, even their homes.