Dear Paul: Our annual general meeting is loaded with proxies. Knowing that our AGMs are not as well attended as they should be, the current board members go door to door advising owners that should they not wish to attend the AGM they will gladly act as their proxy and help them complete the form. Because of this approach, hesitant owners are not encouraged to attend the AGM and the current board has a lot of weight when it comes to decision-making and assuring their own re-election. I understand that there is a way to have owners vote electronically for board members via the internet. Would this be a way of avoiding the proxy wars and prevent some owners playing dirty tricks with proxies?
Dear E.V.: I agree that the proxy system is flawed and subject to abuse by the unscrupulous. Directors who wish to remain in power can exert undue influence by soliciting proxies as you describe, but to be fair this could be done by any owner wishing to control the outcome of a particular vote. In a perfect world, owners would attend the AGM and get to know more about their community. This would virtually eliminate the need for proxies.
Electronic voting in the condo setting, like anything else, has pros and cons. It’s more convenient. Attendance at boring AGMs can be avoided. Quorum can be lowered. Voting is essentially completed in advance of the meeting. The biggest disadvantage, in my opinion, is that owners would not hear what others have to say about an item. Debate would be limited to the few that would attend the meeting. While voting rates would go up, proxies go down, quorum might be just as difficult to achieve unless the Act allowed AGMs with a low quorum requirement.
People buy into the condo lifestyle for various reasons. Should one of these reasons be to belong to a group of like-minded individuals and share in a sense of community, the elimination of contact with neighbours in favour of more electronic communication will only contribute to greater isolation.
Ontario has recently introduced legislation allowing electronic voting. However, it appears that the legislation only goes so far and then leaves it up to individual condo corporations to draft their own Bylaws and processes for voting via the internet. Manitoba does not have legislation allowing electronic voting for condominium corporations. Does this mean it might be allowed? My guess is probably not, but a condo lawyer knowledgeable about Manitoba condo statutes would need to be consulted.
To find out more about the subject, I provide you with two links that address the matter. One is a 6-page booklet written by Lash Condo Law, a Toronto law firm specializing in condo issues http://bit.ly/2Yts84U and the other, CondoVoter at https://condovoter.com is a third-party company that manages the complete electronic voting process (for a fee, of course) for subscribers.
Note: PLEASE keep in mind that these two links refer to Ontario legislation which is different from Manitoba.
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