Online voting provides an inexpensive, efficient and elegant solution that can resolve numerous condo management challenges.
One challenge is obtaining sufficient participation to elect new directors or make changes that require a vote. Many condo corporations struggle to achieve the quorum required by the Condo Act.
A second challenge is determining what condo owners want in their condo community. Whenever significant changes are considered for common elements it can be difficult to separate vocal minority from majority opinion.
A third challenge is the charge of dishonest tactics at annual meetings whenever a vote is required or desired. Although most elections are honest, voters deserve assurances that an election or vote is not rigged. A condo vote should not be fraught with irregularities or accusations that it is not legitimate.
Online voting addresses these challenges.
Online voting is simple. Condo owners are directed to a website with a screen similar to the image in this article. An online sample vote is available at demo.simplyvoting.com. Be sure to enter the ID and password provided on this screen to see how an online vote works. This demo also shows how voting results are displayed.
Voting can be conducted over an extended period using any device with Internet access. Paper ballots remain optional for those uncomfortable with online voting.
Online voting provides numerous benefits:
- Vote tampering is eliminated. All owners get one vote. Organizers are unable to determine how a particular owner has voted. Voting results are anonymous.
- Having a neutral third party running an election reduces challenges and conflicts.
- Owners can vote over a longer period of time (one week or more) from anywhere at any time. Owners who are ill, out of town, disabled, busy, or otherwise not able or willing to attend an Annual General Meeting will not be disenfranchised.
- An electronic proxy is secure. A PIN or access code confirms the identity of the property or person providing the proxy.
- An electronic proxy is tamper proof. The proxy comes directly from the property owner into the voter’s list with no third party interference. Any owner retains the option of providing a written proxy.
- Increased voter participation. This is particularly important when a quorum must be achieved or a very high percentage of owners must approve a ballot question.
- Ballots are automatically counted and results are immediately available. Counting is accurate and there are no spoiled ballots.
- There are no interruptions or changes to paper voting options. Paper voting can proceed as usual.
Online voting can increase owner engagement when used to conduct “straw polls.” A “straw poll” is an unofficial vote taken to obtain an indication of the general trend of opinion on an issue. This allows condo boards to know what owners really want.
Simply Voting is a Montreal company that provides an online voting solution. Since 2003 they have provided their solution to condo corporations, universities, associations and other organizations interested in self-managed elections. Starting this year, Simply Voting will provide their solution to Ontario municipalities offering online voting.
The company began as a McGill University initiative to manage online voting for the Student Union Association. It has evolved to a complete online voting solution.