Board and Members FAQs

Electronic and Paper Ballots

1. Can members vote via email or another electronic method? Did the State of California create an exemption during the pandemic, allowing for electronic voting instead of physical ballots?

Electronic transmission voting (voting by e-mail) was allowed for members before the pandemic and continues to be allowed. However, there are requirements that must be followed in order for voting by email to be legal and proper. See information concerning these requirements.

Source: Section 10.42 of Advising California Nonprofit Corporations entitled “Electronic Transmission by or to the Corporation,” published by Continuing Education of the Bar, 2021.

Individual organizations may have made their own policy changes on electronic voting, which would fall outside California requirements. It is possible that an organization is unaware of these requirements, or that it knowingly made the change and intentionally assumed the legal risks.

California has allowed for virtual membership meetings, provided those attending are able to have a voice and be “heard” by other attendees. It is possible that this decision on virtual meetings could have been misinterpreted to extend to voting by ballot.

Electronic voting is available, provided an individual member makes such a request in a signed document and indicates an email address to be used for casting ballots. However, the organization may not make a blanket decision to allow members to vote electronically either through an administrative action or by popular vote of members.

2. Can I change my own preference to vote by email?

Electronic voting is available, provided an individual member makes such a request in a signed document and indicates an email address to be used for casting ballots. Each individual must make this request. The organization may not make a blanket decision to allow members to vote electronically either through an administrative action or by popular vote of members.

If you would like to change your voting preference to electronic, you may download, complete, and return the Consent to Use of Electronic Transmissions form.

3. How much does it cost to prepare and mail physical meeting announcements and ballots?

Based on the 2021 ballot printing and delivery, ballots cost from $1 to $1.50 each to print and mail. When possible, CAA inserts ballots into other publications already scheduled to mail to lessen organizational mailing costs. Since each meeting announcement and ballot can cost in excess of $25,000, CAA is taking extra measures with legal counsel to limit the number of mailings required to conduct regular administrative business.

4. Can Annual Meeting announcements and ballots be distributed electronically?

CAA is currently consulting legal counsel to determine whether Meeting Announcements and ballots may be distributed via email to the preferred address in Advance, based on state guidelines that permit virtual meetings. The guidelines may allow CAA to electronically distribute meeting announcements and ballots. However, the guidelines do not allow members to return ballots electronically unless an individual member has completed the Consent to Use of Electronic Transmissions form.

Information was developed with guidance and review of CAA legal counsel. CAA continues to consult with legal counsel to review interpretation of California guidelines and CAA Bylaws, in order to fulfill organization responsibilities more efficiently.