Understanding Proxies

November 2020

Condo owners, affected by their volunteer board’s decisions, are encouraged and expected to be involved in governance of their corporation.  It is only through participation of owners that the best interests of a community are preserved, and to avoid unrestrained authority by a small group of individuals.

The reality is that condo owners are not always available to participate in condo governance.  Proxies, a written statement by an individual owner authorizing someone to vote on their behalf, exist to facilitate owner participation in votes.

Having fair, open and reliable elections with greater participation is in best interest of all condo communities.  While proxies are intended to facilitate this they can and have been misused, and can be a source of contention affecting the outcome of condo elections.  Despite their importance, few are clear about what a proxy is and why it exists.

A proxy assigns an owner’s voting rights to another person so that the proxy-holder can vote at a meeting where the owner is absent.  There may be no restrictions on who can hold a proxy.  Those in possession of a proxy have the right to vote in place of the owner.  Proxies are helpful in achieving quorum; the minimum number of individuals that must be present at a meeting to make proceedings of that meeting valid.

Proxies can be in two forms.  A general proxy allows the proxy-holder to vote however they choose at a meeting.  A directed proxy allows the owner to direct how the proxy-holder should vote.

Proxies can be subject to tampering or misuse, and conflict, in condo elections and votes.  They can be obtained by fraud, pressure and under duress.  Someone going door-to-door can bully an owner into signing a proxy and influence their choices.  Proxies may have been modified after being signed and provided to the proxy-holder.  In condo communities proxies may have been collected by individuals seeking to control the outcome of an election.  Obtaining enough general proxies, or directed proxies where direction is provided by the collector of the proxy, can change the outcome of an election.  The unfortunate reality is that many condo owners will sign a proxy giving control of their vote to another without understanding what this means.

Today, technology offers solutions ensuring owner participation in condo elections without proxy-related problems.  Online voting is an easy, inexpensive, elegant and desirable solution solving virtually all problems relating to condo elections.  Owners can vote through their computer at any hour and location.  Voting can take place over a period of days or weeks rather than in a meeting some owners are unable to attend.

For more information on proxies and condo elections see No Proxies Required in the Condo Archives.