Challenging the proxies 
“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
—Joseph Stalin

Most condo owners have given little thought on how they can verify if the proxies that are mailed to the management company, dropped off at the manager's office or handed to the employees of the management company during the registration process are proper and legitimate.

Since most votes are conducted by proxy, it seems almost pointless for candidates for the director positions to be focused on appointing ethical scrutineers to count the ballots when the results of the election has been already decided by the proxies.

The scrutineers
The chair, at the request of the owners, may appoint one or more scrutineers to assist him in taking the attendance and counting proxies and ballots. (The point I take from this is that the owners must make the request.)

The owners have the power, by a majority vote, to reject a scrutineer selected by the chair.

I vote for the peoples' happiness
Duties of the scrutineers
The scrutineers, at the request of the chair shall:
report in detail on the meeting attendance.
collect, examine and tabulate the proxies and report in detail to the chairman.
collect, examine and tabulate ballots and report back in detail to the chairman.
report the election results in detail to the chair and return all proxies and ballots to the chairman.

The scrutineers check the owners and the proxies against the register, tabulate the proxies noting all special instructions.

Training for the scrutineers
When I was active with the labour unions, the elected local trustees were the election scrutineers. The international union had weekend-long training courses for trustees and their election duties was included in their curriculum.

Political parties also give training for their election scrutineers.

However, the scrutineers selected from among the owners at a condo AGM receive no training whatsoever.

I suggest that the opposition candidates who are running for election recruit owners who are willing to be scrutineers and give them instructions on the job duties. Your lawyer, a condo consultant or an experienced property manager can review the training material to insure it is accurate.

I would also like to suggest that the training materials include Sections 51 & 52 of the Condominium Act and the relevant rules and chapters in Nathan's Company Meetings.

Validity of proxies
The scrutineers do not question any proxy which appears to be genuine and valid. However, if there is any uncertainly about a proxy, the chair will decide whether it is valid or not. The chair's decision is final and binding unless it is reversed by the court.

The improper rejection or acceptance of proxies may invalidate the result of the vote, including the election of directors.

All objections to the acceptance or rejection of proxies must be made at the meeting or the owner objecting may be deemed to have waived any irregularity.

All voters have the right to challenge proxies and ballots to the chairman and should be given the opportunity to explain to the chairman what are the grounds for the objection.

Examining the proxies
The chairman, scrutineers and all owners who are eligible to vote may examine the proxies at any reasonable time, during or after the meeting.

Section 52 (7) states that the corporation shall retain all instruments appointing a proxy for a meeting of owners as a record of the corporation for 90 days following the date of the meeting.

Too often, owners will ask to see the proxies after the AGM as they were troubled during the meeting by something they saw or heard.

There are three problems with this. First of all, the board often refuses to allow an owner to see the proxies. Then, after a big fight, even if you inspect the proxies, there is little that can be done—aside from going to court—as the election is over.

Finally, the management companies, claiming they were protecting the owners' privacy, redact all the names, unit numbers and signatures on all the proxies. That makes them completely useless. The un-reacted proxies can only be seen if there is a court challenge.

Again, how often can an owner afford to take their administrator or the board and the property management company to court?

I suggest that all actions of the board or their agents that infringe on the rights of owners be properly documented and collected so that a future court challenge can show a history of oppression against the owners.

Do proxies disappear?
I assume that most proxies that are delivered to the property management office or mailed to the property management company are from owners who support the board and instruct the proxy to vote for the candidates favoured by the board.

I attended one AGM in Toronto where the opposition candidate told a scrutineer that the owner of Unit # 1101 had voted for her by proxy and he handed his proxy into the management office. She asked the scrutineer to check to see if that unit owner's proxy was included with the others.

It was not.

The only way that the opposition candidates will learn if any proxies supporting them disappeared, is if they have a couple of supporters hand in their proxies to the management company and then see if the proxies are counted at the AGM.

If management fails to present those proxies to the meeting, then the candidate can inform the Chair and the meeting that the election results has been tainted by the management company.

top  contents   chapter   previous   next