One Person One Vote


Our frequent guest blogger, Deborah Goonan, alerted me to an excellent documentary which could ultimately go straight to the heart of the fight against the HOA disease. It’s produced by the Annenberg Foundation and reviews two of the most important U.S. Supreme Court decisions of the 20th Century, Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Simms, which were both decided in the early 60s.

The Court essentially ruled that the 14th Amendment, enacted 3 years after the civil war, should have made all citizens equal. But as the decades rolled on it became obvious that because of unequal state apportionment of legislative districts, people in rural counties had much more voting power than high density cities. The court essentially ruled that equal rights means equal voting power. It overturned 150 years of precedence and all legislatures had to reapportion their states so a roughly equal number of people resided in each voting district. There’s been frequent gerrymandering, of course, but that’s a story for another time.

There was another major milestone that happened about that same time. The country decided that blacks had just as much right to vote as whites. Congress enacted and the President signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and many southern laws which restricted black voting rights were overturned.

The amazing thing that should interest us…is that these two court decisions and the Civil Rights Act led immediately to the creation of the modern HOA movement which decided that by incorporating housing developments and then controlling them with HOA mini-governments, they were able to once again subvert the one person one vote principle. Actually, it was more perverse than that. Most HOAs allotted one vote per parcel owned. It was an arrogant refutation of three of the most important government decisions of the century.

“We’re private corporations. The Constitution allows us to handle our people in whichever way we want. You can’t tell us how to treat our ’employees’ and ‘investors.'”

But that could be the Achilles heel of the HOA movement. These are our homes we’re talking about. This is where we live, where we’re supposed to be able to find ultimate privacy, shelter against abusive government (HOA officers and property managers). But this is the one remaining bastion where the one person one vote principle falls apart. We get one vote per property owned. For example, the investor who owns 50 parcels out of a hundred home development (even if he doesn’t live in the community) may get 50% of the vote, so the neighborhood looks the way he wants it, regardless of the wishes of all the other neighbors. He may easily, and probably will get himself installed as lifetime president of the board.

One person one vote. Think about it folks. As you watch the 26 minute documentary linked below, ask how this might be applied in your own HOA.

(link to the Annenberg documentary)


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

2 thoughts on “One Person One Vote

  1. Cynthia

    Thank you Ward Lucas and Deborah Goonan for letting the readers of this blog know about this documentary. Another huge obstacle in the “one person on vote” principle in HOAs, is that HOA boards and others advising an HOA, maybe attorneys, take away, or suggest taking away a homeowners right to vote “willy nilly”, at their discretion and many times unfairly and fraudulently for their own self serving motives. All they allege is “not in good standing.” Typically, it is not until the time of the vote that a homeowners advised that they are “not in good standing.” This is an embarrassment to many an HOA homeowner and as I said before, many times the alleged “not in good standing designation” is not true.

    HOA boards may allege a financial deficiency, but how can one challenge this with no access to the books and records involved, either at that moment, or even if they were advised prior, most often HOA homeowners are denied access to the books and records.

    If a taxpayer, even legitimately owes state, or federal taxes, or other government charge, or fee they are not denied their vote in any state, or federal election.

    There are other reasons an HOA board can allege the “not in good standing, designation to take away an HOA homeowners right to vote too. The HOA homeowner is left with few options and these abusive boards and their accomplices know this!

    State and federal agencies will not step in and investigate these homeowner abuses and discrimination and the majority of the time the press will not report. I believe it because they are afraid, or intimidated by these boards and their connections and relationships with attorneys, and possibly those in the courts, industry personnel and others who benefit from the HOA abuses and criminality.

  2. Pingback: HOAs do not adhere to Democratic Principle of One Person, One Vote | Independent American Communities

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