Blantant proxy form manipulation

If you think the previous sample of proxy form manipulation was bad, wait till you read this.

In the information package, the manager lists the candidates that are running by listing the incumbents first and the challengers at the end. The same order is followed with the attached resumes.

In Canadian political elections, in order not show a bias, the candidates are listed in alphabetical order but not in condo elections.

Gaming the proxy form
Our municipal elections have advance balloting which is as close to proxies as we get in public elections and lets look at a trick our incumbent mayor could be tempted to use to hang on the office he loves.

Do you think Olivia Chow, John Tory or Karen Stiniz would have approved of this ballot? How about the average Canadian voter? Don't think so?

The average condo voter, if he or she lived at one Etobicoke condo, may feel right at home with a ballot like this.

An AGM proxy form
Here is a couple excerpts from the proxy form that was part of the information package for a AGM that was to be held in Etobicoke on Thursday 16 January 2014.

There is a line to fill in one candidate's name so there is one opening on the board and the owners are voting for one of the five candidates that submitted their resumes (included in the AGM package) right?

There are four openings on the seven-position board that the owners were to vote for. However there are three incumbents, so I assume as a way to greatly improve their chances of being re-elected, the incumbents names were typed on the proxy in the order of one to three.

There is one line—in position number 4— for the voters to write in a candidate to be selected from the enclosed resumes. (None of the three incumbents included their resumes with the AGM package.)

Note the "additional names may be added" in smaller print below.

There are no blank lines provided to write in four candidate names and there is no instructions saying that the voter is permitted to line-out any of the pre-printed names.

Only one name written in after the printed names will be high enough in the order to win.

Gets better
Three of the open positions on the board were for three-year terms and one position was for a one-year term. It is normal for the candidates getting the highest number of votes being elected for the the longest term and the one with the lowest number of votes taking the shorter term. It looks like the three directors were setting themselves up to get 100% of the proxy votes and the other four candidates would split the vote for the director position with the one-year term

OOP after the one candidate's name means "owner-occupied position" on the board of directors.

If you skip ahead to AGM Elections, you will read that when there are two or more open positions on the board and one of them is to be elected by only the owner-residents, then there has to be TWO elections at the AGM.

Signing the AGM package
The president, who has his name printed in the first line on the proxy form is the one who signed off on the AGM package.

Two owners and the president distributed leaflets from door to door and at some units, where they could not slip the paper through the doors, they left their flyers (total of three) in the door handles. One of the owners distributed a flyer exposing the proxy form fraud.

Security patrolled the halls removing the owners' leaflets but not the president's flyer. When asked about it, the president blamed the property management company. When he was asked who wrote the proxy form, he said the management did.

Two security guards confirmed that it was management who told them to remove the owner's leaflets in the doorways but leave the President's campaign leaflet alone.

A couple of the candidates asked the other owners what they thought about the proxy form. The problem had to be explained to them. The owners who had filled out a proxy said that they thought that they could only vote for one of the candidates that had submitted their resumes. Other owners had no interest in the elections.

An ex-director said that he was not surprised at the attempt to rig the election as he said proxy fraud was a control technique when he served on the board.

When the fraud was explained to the owners, two of the incumbents, who's names were printed on the proxy form, withdrew from the race.

AGM rescheduled
Finally, one day prior to the scheduled date, the corporation announced that the AGM was being rescheduled to Wednesday 12 February 2014.

The notice states:
"Through inadvertence, it appears that the proxy form as sent out could cause some confusion and we want to ensure that the results of these important elections are not subject to any scrutiny based on the form."

In other words, they thought that the election results could have been challenged in court. That was a strong possibility as an owner obtained a legal opinion from a lawyer experienced in condominium law.

Here is the posted notice:

Low road
In the new AGM package, placed in front of the other candidate's one-page resumes, the president included as his resume, a four-page election campaign flyer that noted his achievements and denounced previous boards and the opposition candidates and listed the four candidates that he urged the owners to vote for.

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