Since November 2017, when the Condominium Act was amended to allow telephone and electronic voting, there have been posts and articles written by many naysayers. These critics oppose any change to allow for an unfamiliar voting process and continue to resist any movement away from the use of a proxy form.
However, since March 2020, condominium corporations have been required to hold their AGMs virtually; and those that have done so now see the benefits of virtual meetings and electronic voting, realizing that there is no need for the proxy form. As we become more comfortable with this new way of conducting virtual meetings, we may soon see that proxies are a thing of the past.
Some opponents to electronic voting still have concerns about those owners who don’t have email access or computers in order to participate and vote either before or at a meeting. However, with the recent launch of telephone voting, owners without email can now attend and vote by phone either in advance or in real time at the meeting.
Others say that owners may want someone else to attend or vote on their behalf at a meeting. Remember: with virtual meetings, electronic voting and telephone voting, there is no need to fill out a proxy in order to give someone else the ability to attend and vote on an owner’s behalf. An owner can simply forward their email and passcodes to someone they trust so that they are able to attend and vote for that owner.
Historically, in Ontario, proxies have only been used for the purposes of quorum; but most often proxies are the principal vehicle by which board elections can be used for improper motives, often resulting in highly contested meetings and court challenges. With advance voting, quorum is achieved by owners voting in advance, even if those owners do not attend the meeting. It is also a way for owners to vote for themselves without interference from others!
So, what can you do to ensure that proxies become a thing of the past? Provide your input! We all need to do our part as a community to reduce the burden on management and make the meeting and voting process fairer for owners and more efficient/cost effective for condo corporations.
Here are a few of my thoughts on changes that would assist condo corporations:
- No requirement for a virtual meeting and electronic voting by-law. The Condominium Act should contain provisions explicitly permitting virtual meetings, electronic voting and telephonic voting . The focus should be on getting owner participation – whether voting or attending a meeting – and ensuring that owners vote for themselves.
- No requirement to obtain from an owner an agreement to receive electronic notices. If an owner provides their email address to management, no further consent should be required. Think about the cost saving and reduced management/administrative time this change offers.
- Abolish the proxy form. Those of us who have experienced virtual meetings and electronic voting have had to deal with the mass confusion on how to handle a proxy form for a virtual meeting. In some U.S. jurisdictions that have electronic voting, proxies are not permitted. Why would Ontario be the first jurisdiction to try to figure out how to incorporate a proxy into a system which allows owners to easily vote for themselves. What we have witnessed these past few months is that managers are given the task of validating proxies and providing information to third-party electronic voting providers. I am sure that management companies, as well as CMRAO, did not envision that this process would fall under a manager’s already busy purview.
- Clarification is needed that quorum is determined by those that are “present” virtually or by advance vote. The difficulty of trying to obtain quorum for an owners’ meeting will no longer be an issue since owners having access to electronic voting or telephone voting are now taking the time to cast their vote.
I urge you to voice your comments to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services before 5:00 p.m. on February 8. Click here to submit your comments.