Three months ago I did a poll on Linked In with the following question ” Should managers or board members have access to voting results for candidates before the meeting?”
The results were interesting. 89% of those that responded said “no” while 11% said “yes”. There were 75 comments but interestingly enough, all the comments were from those that strongly opposed disclosure of voting results. The 11% remained silent.
Three months later, on January 16, 2022, CTV News reporter, Jon Woodward, investigates this very issue – vote disclosure. The report focuses on an election in which advanced electronic proxy results were accessed by a manager and the meeting was subsequently postponed. One of the owners running for the board, indicated that had the election gone forward, she would have had a good chance of winning and getting onto the board of directors. The condominium corporation’s management company denied that the rescheduling of the meeting was intended to give any incumbent director an advantage.
It may very well be that we never find out the real reason for the postponement of the meeting. However, one thing is clear, if no one had access to the advanced proxy/voting results, then this issue would not have been raised.
With little guidance on governance and voting procedures for virtual meetings and e-voting, it has become abundantly clear that we must take action now to put into place regulations or legislative changes to protect condo owners’ voting rights.
This issue has been brought to the attention of CMRAO which has directed licensed managers to always act as “impartial administrators”. In our submissions to the Ministry, our group has included vote disclosure and proxy use as items that should be addressed with other feedback on the Proposed Permanent Changes to Enable Digital and Virtual Processes under the Condominium Act. CAI Canada has also provided its feedback to the Ministry on the importance of addressing voting disclosure and the use of proxies.
Our lawyers have been actively involved in chairing virtual meetings since the start of the pandemic and have worked with different virtual meeting and e-voting service providers. It is important for the industry to start taking a hard look at all its service providers to determine whether the appropriate safeguards have been put into place for condo elections to ensure that no one has access to owners ballots, proxies or voting results until the vote is closed and announced by the chair of the meeting.