Online Petitions
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ONLINE PETITIONS

QUESTION: Can homeowners use an online petition service such as www.GoPetition.com to call a special meeting?

ANSWER: 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.

Electronic Signatures. 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.

OPINION: 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.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

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