CA Senate Bill 61 | NNA
Law

CA Senate Bill 61

Notary Law Update: CA Senate Bill 61

State: California

Summary:

Senate Bill 61 authorizes Notaries to act as an inspector and guarantor of the integrity of a homeowners association election.

Signed:  October 03, 2005

Effective:  July 01, 2006

Chapter: 450

Affects:

Adds a new section 1363.03 to the California Civil Code Article 2, Chapter 4, Title 6, Part 4, Division 2.

Changes:
  1. Authorizes any Notary along with any volunteer poll worker with the county registrar of voters and any licensee of the California Board of Accountancy as persons who may act as an  “independent third party” (ITP) to inspect an election in a “common interest development” (incorporated or unincorporated homeowners association).
  2. States that a common interest development may utilize 1 or 3 ITPs to inspect an election. If 3 ITPs are used, a decision of the majority is effective.
  3. Prescribes that an ITP may be a member of the association, but may not be a member of, or a candidate for, the board of directors or related to a member of, or candidate for, the board of directors. Additionally, an ITP may not be currently employed or under contract to the association for compensable services unless expressly authorized by the rules of the association.
  4. Describes the duties of an ITP as follows: (a) To determine the number of memberships entitled to vote and the voting power of each; (b) To determine the authenticity, validity, and effect of proxies, if any; (c) To receive ballots; (d) To hear and determine all challenges and questions in any way arising out of or in connection with the right to vote; (e) To count and tabulate votes; (f) To determine when the polls shall close; (g) To determine the result of the election; and (h) To perform any acts as may be proper to conduct the election with fairness to all members in accordance with Section 1363.03 of the Civil Code and any rules of the association.
  5. Requires an ITP to be impartial, to act in good faith to the best of his or her ability, and to perform all duties as expeditiously as practical.​
  6. Details the procedures for submitting and securely storing sealed ballots prior to the meeting at which the votes are counted and specifies that the ballots shall only be opened, counted and tabulated by the ITP or ITPs in public at a properly noticed open meeting of the board of directors or members. 
Analysis:

It is rare in this day and age to actually see a state expand the powers or duties of a Notary, as the authorized acts a Notary may perform are generally settled in statute. The authorization for California Notaries to act as an inspector and guarantor of the integrity of a homeowners association election resembles two duties Notaries may perform in other states: (a) certifying that an event has occurred or an act has been performed (Washington); and (b) calling a town meeting (Maine).

There are an estimated 30,000 elections requiring the services of independent third party inspectors of elections each year. Evidently, this staggering number has created a new role for the impartial witnessing Notary in the Golden State.

Senate Bill 61 does not prescribe the fees a Notary may be paid to inspect an election, but it is assumed that homeowners associations may provide for reasonable fees to be paid to ITPs in their governing documents.

Read the bill text.

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