a person who supervises the conduct of an election or competition
—Oxford English dictionary

The scrutineering of an condo corporation election actually starts in the management office when the manager sorts through the submitted proxies rejecting those from the units that are in arrears or have been signed by people who are not registered owners. This makes it easier when the Registration Desk opens.

Proxies that give support to the incumbents may be readily accepted while proxies that support independent candidates will be checked to see if the units are in arrears, that a renter rather than an owner signed the proxy or if there are any other errors that allow the proxy to be rejected.

At a recent (spring 2013) special owners meeting, a proxy was submitted for an owner who died two months prior to the mailing of the meeting information packages. It was counted.

A few proxies that support the independent candidates may get "lost".

Registration desk

Scrutineering resumes when the Registration desk opens. Employees of the property management company man the desk and they accept proxies and register the owners that are attending the meeting.

This process is accepted at most condos without question.

All candidates assume that the management company's employees will ethically accept or reject proxies without showing favour to one side or the other. Yet, among condo activists, it is common knowledge that this is not always so.


Proxies that favour opposition candidates may be held to stricter scrutiny than proxies that favour the incumbents.
When a candidate asks to appoint a scrutineer to observe the registration of proxies, the chair may refuse the request.
Blank ballots are commonly left in piles on the registration desk both during the registration period and afterwards.
When a board-friendly owner, (who has already handed in a proxy to the management office), shows up, the registrar may give her a ballot.
(Two votes.)

Call for scrutineers
Just prior to the election, the Chair calls for two or three owners to volunteer as scrutineers. It is assumed that the Chair will select volunteers who are unbiased and the untrained volunteers will be instructed in the complete duties of supervising the election.

However, some Chairs may appoint scrutineers that are biased towards the existing directors and have been pre-selected. The selection by a show of hands is just for show. This is especially true when a crucial vote, such as a loan by-law is at stake.

(At a September 2014 AGM up north, the president phoned a couple of residents the night before the meeting and asked them to join her husband as scrutineers.)

So the volunteers join the manager, and sometimes the Chair, go to into a separate room and count the ballots and the proxies.

Once that is done, they think they did a thorough job. They didn't.

What's wrong here?

By the time the call is made for volunteers to count the ballots and proxies, the lion's share of supervising the election has already been done by the management company.

The scrutineers do not realize that they should check the proxies that were accepted at the Registration Table and the ones that were rejected to insure that that screening was properly done.

They need to know the official tally of units in attendance in person and by proxy at the start of the meeting so no extra proxies or ballots are included in the count.

The scrutineers need to be trained on the provisions for accepting ballots and proxies that is contained in the Condominium Act and in Nathan's Company Meetings and not rely solely on the word of the property manager.

They need to know that any time they are in doubt, they need to ask the Chair for a decision. The property manager does not have the authority to make the determination if a ballot or proxy is valid, that is the Chair's job.

Outrageous behaviour
When they are intent in getting their favourite directors re-elected or if they are fighting to keep their jobs, the property managers can be very crude in rigging the elections.

In the spring of 2014, a manager in Mississauga went into the counting room with two scrutineers and proceeded to take four voting instruments and rip them up. She told the two shocked scrutineers that the candidate asked the four owners to vote for her before the meeting and no campaigning was allowed on election day. The two scrutineers were too intimidated by one of the directors and the management staff to tell the assembled owners what happened.

In September of the same year, the property manager at a different condo, who was appointed to Chair the meeting, rejected 15 proxies. He refused to allow the scrutineers to examine them. Since the manager was under suspicion for financial irregularities, his judgment may have been biased and there was no way he should have been allowed to Chair that AGM.

Finally, the scrutineers and the candidates need to know that if they have any doubts about the count, they must make their objections known to the Chair during the meeting and insure that those objections are included in the meeting minutes. Objections made afterwards may not be recognized by the courts.

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