: Can homeowners use an online petition service such as www.GoPetition.com
to call a special meeting?
Not yet. Just as California does not recognize electronic petitions for ballot initiatives, I don't believe homeowners can use them as a substitute for paper-and-ink petitions to call membership meetings.
Since only members can sign petitions, associations have the right to
verify the signatures. With paper-and-ink petitions, members sign their
names in their own distinctive handwriting styles and can easily be verified. Electronic signatures, on the other hand, are easily forged by a
petitioner plus anyone can "sign" a petition (children, non-member
spouses, tenants, etc.) with the click of a mouse. Moreover, the
purported signatures cannot readily be verified by management, staff or
Inspectors of Election.
The law requires that reasonable measures be in
place to verify that the sender of an electronic message (or signer of
an electronic petition) is a member of the association purporting to
send the transmission. (Corp. Code §21
While safeguards could be created by an association for petitions the association generates, such measures would be difficult to establish when the
petitions are produced by other parties.
At some point in the future, electronic petitions may become acceptable
to California for public ballot initiatives and corporate petitions.
Until that happens, paper-and-ink is the only accepted format when
members petition a board for a special meeting to recall the board,
amend governing documents, invalidate a rule change, etc.
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