When members mark their ballots, they sometimes make mistakes that may or may not invalidate their votes. It depends on the particular error. Inspectors of Election should count the votes on a ballot when the meaning is clear.
- Unintelligible Ballots. If a write-in vote is illegible or the vote cast is otherwise unintelligible, the vote is not counted (but may used for quorum purposes).
- Ineligible Candidate. If voters write in an ineligible candidate, the ballots are used for quorum purposes. Votes for the ineligible candidate are included in the Inspector's Report but do not affect the election results.
- Technical Errors. Misspelling a write-in candidate does not invalidate the vote. If a voter writes "Bob Smith" instead of "Robert Smith" or writes "Robert Smyth" instead of "Robert Smith," the technical error is overlooked and the votes counted (unless there are two owners with similar names--Robert Smith and Robert Smythe--which renders the votes uncountable).
- Multiple Ballots. With the exception where multiple properties are indicated on the outer envelope, if an inner envelope contains two or more ballots, it counts as one ballot toward quorum but the votes on the ballots are not counted. If, however, one of the ballots is blank and the other is properly filled out, the blank ballot is set aside and the voted ballot is counted.
- Multiple Envelopes. If multiple ballot envelopes are received from an owner, the first one counts, and the others are set aside unopened.
- Ineligible Voter. If ballots have been cast by ineligible voters (as determined from the outer envelope), the envelope is not opened. Instead, the ballot is marked "Ineligible Voter" and the ballot is set aside unopened. An ineligible voter is anyone who is not a member of the association.
- Unvoted Portions. If a ballot has multiple issues for voters to decide and ballots are cast where some issues are marked and others are not, the ballots are valid. The voted issues are counted and the blank ones are not.
- Signed Ballot. Restrictions on signing are imposed on associations, not owners. That means associations cannot require members to sign their ballots. (Civ. Code § 5115(a).) If an owner inadvertently (or intentionally) signs their ballot, inspectors of election should not invalidate the owner's vote.
- Missing Inner Envelope. If a member forgets to use the small inner envelope and places their ballot in the signed outer envelope, the ballot is still valid and should be counted.
- Unsigned Outer Envelope. If the outer envelope is not signed, the envelope must be marked "Void" and set aside unopened. Although associations are not obligated to do so, it is permissible to contact members who failed to sign their envelopes so they can correct the oversight. Whether this is done or not will depend on the Inspector of Elections since he/she receives the ballots and oversees election integrity. Time and cost constraints will likely be a factor in the Inspector's decision, and whether the Inspector logs in the envelopes before the cutoff for receiving ballots. If they are not registered in advance of the meeting, the Inspector will not know that the envelopes have not been signed.
- Illegible Address. If the outer envelope has an invalid or illegible owner name and address, the envelope must be marked "Void" and set aside unopened.
The Inspector's Report should reflect irregularities where appropriate. See Robert's Rules of Order (11th ed.) pp. 415-417 for additional information about counting irregularities.
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