Management rigging elections

It is a serious mistake to allow management companies to have any role at all in  condominium elections. They are not disinterested parties and far too often, they manipulate the election results, sometimes extremely crudely.

Management may/will cheat
At a Scarborough condo, there were two new candidates running for the board; an incumbent and a challenger. The ballots have been collected and the scrutineers start counting. The challenger beat the incumbent by two votes.

The District Manager becomes frantic.

It is now time to refer to the condo's bylaws:
Method of Voting (vi) (e):
"When all the ballots have been deposited into the ballot box the scrutineers shall then tabulate the votes for and against the matter being voted upon. In the event the vote is not decided by the ballots cast, the Board shall collect any outstanding ballots until the vote is conclusive either in favour of or against."

Isn't that something? Unbelievable. I never saw that in any legitimate meeting rules that I have ever come across.

So, the challenger won by two votes. When she hears the results, the property manager says: I made a mistake. I have a few votes in my pocket. She adds two ballots to the count.

Now it is a tie. The district manager counts the votes. Then counts them a second time. Then he says: "One more time." He counts and recounts the ballots. Twelve times he counts the ballots but contrary to the generally accepted Laws of Mathematics that has guided man since the days of the ancient Indian and Greek societies, the numbers remained the same.

The challenger asks for the Chair, the corporation lawyer for a ruling on these two added ballots. The Chair confirmed that the two ballots, that came out of the property manager's pocket, are invalid.

The challenger won a seat on the board.

By the way, the property management company was not one of the rinky-dink small outfits; it is one of Ontario's three biggest condo property management companies.

Freedom isn't free
Here is an e-mail that I got from a reader in the autumn of 2014.

We had our AGM in June and someone at the meeting made a comment to the property manager about the director's name being pre-printed on the proxy form. (Condo owners are starting to read CondoMadness.)

Here is the important part of the form.

So, this form strongly suggests that the owners can vote for Susan and one additional director of their choice. What's more, Susan has been given the primary ballot position. (See where is says "in the order set below"?

Nothing says that the owners have the right to strike out Susan's name and replace it a different first-choice candidate.

In response to the complaints, the manager said do you want to start again? It will cost you a lot of money to re-schedule.

So the manager knew that the proxy form was wrong but he distributed it anyway.

No one in the room wanted to spend another summer evening at another meeting and the cost was another factor. The meeting continued, two unit owners agreed to run in the election.

Here is where I get pissed with the owners. A cheaper crooked election, especially since they will not have to come out for another meeting, is better than an having an honest one?

The scrutinizers handed out the ballots, and the property manager continued to hold on to the election proxies. Once the ballots were filled, the scrutinizers collected them and went into the office with the manager.

I know what happened in that office because my good friend and neighbour was a scrutinizer for the second year in a row.

The manager held on to the proxies and after the ballots were counted the manager removed two proxies that he disqualified because they had no unit numbers on them. He showed these two proxies to the scrutinizers.

The scrutinizers never got to view the rest of the proxies. He then proceeded to leaf through the remaining proxies repeating the director`s name.

Never got to see the proxies? They should have then walked out and told the meeting that the election was rigged.

When they came out of the office the winners were announced. The director, of course, being one of them.

At this point an owner spoke up saying that this is not fair and something must be done about this.

Great. At least someone spoke out.

At this point it was decided and the owners voted that the director would be in her position for one year and not a full three-year term.

Well guess what? The director is using our money on a Toronto lawyer to get her three-year term back.

This could not happen unless the majority of directors, at a board meeting, voted in favour of seeking a legal opinion.

The lawyer writes back that the director was the only declared candidate prior to the mailing of the AGM package so her name being the only one on the ballot should not disallow her from being elected for a full three-year term.

true on its own. Yet, the owners were right to believe that it was not correct to put her name on the prime position on a ballot and there should be a place to put other candidates names on the ballot, not just one more. So to limit the damage without disqualifying the entire election, they voted to have the incumbent run again at the next AGM.

Pressure at the registration desk
A director told me that in 2013, when she ran for the board, she urged a neighbour to come to the AGM and vote for her. He replied that he would not stay for the meeting but he would come down to the registration desk and hand in a proxy.

A few days after the meeting, the newly-elected director thanked her neighbour for his support. He replied that he was sorry but he did not voter for her as when the manager, who was accepting the proxies at the registration desk saw how he voted, told him to change his proxy to support the incumbent. So, feeling intimidated, he did.

Destroying ballots
At the same condo in Mississauga, during the 2014 AGM, the chair, the vice-president of the management company, selected two scrutineers to assist the manager count the proxies and ballots.

During the counting, the manager took a few ballots off the table and ripped them up. She told the two scrutineers that she saw the candidate urged some of the owners to vote for her during the meeting and no election campaigning is allowed on election day.

The chair, who was the management company's vice-president—who it is assumed knew what happened—announced that the incumbent director was re-elected.

When a candidate requested that he announce the total number of votes that each candidate received, the chair refused. He ruled that it was a secret vote.

The two scrutineers were to afraid to say anything. Later, one of them told a director what transpired in the counting room. (Then the director told me.)

Management fills all the roles
In the fall of 2015, a condo in western Ontario held their AGM. The property manager was the Chair and the management employees registered the owners at the door. Nothing unusual about that.

An owner attends the meeting and asks for her proxy back. She handed in her signed blank proxy to the manager's office as the manager said that proxies were needed to meet quorum.

This owner was upset to see that management had filled in the incumbents' names on her proxy.

There is more

The management employees  automatically assumed the scrutineer responsibilities. The owners had no role to play in this condo's election.

At the start of the meeting, the scrutineers, who registered the owners at door, reported to Chair:
24   Units in attendance
38   Proxies

Asked to repeat this information at end of meeting, after referring to some papers, the scrutineers reported that there were:
25 units in attendance
46 proxies.

The actual count by owners who tracked the names and unit numbers during the registration, came up with different numbers.

When two different owners asked the property manager, who was the Chair after all, why the difference in totals, she gave each owner a different answer.

Lying is common. Being a good liar takes practice.

top  contents  chapter  previous  next