Soliciting proxies

It is no secret that if you want to win an election at a condo corporation, you have to collect proxies as in most condos, proxies can comprise 50-80% of the total votes.

A candidate needs to collect proxies and we have already talked about the difficulties that the board and management can put in a candidate's way to make this a difficult task.

Meeting package
Candidates wait until they receive the Owners Meeting Information Package before they receive a proxy form with their package.

They then can make copies and go door-to-door in the condo soliciting proxies. This gives the board a couple of opportunities to try to make it difficult for candidates to challenge the incumbents.

Official proxy form
The information package can claim that only the "official" proxy that was distributed with the package will be accepted as a proxy.

This prevents an owner who signs a proxy from later changing his/her mind unless the management office issues a replacement proxy.

Sometimes this is done to discourage massive proxy fraud such as described in the next page but it is also can be used to make it harder for legitimate candidates.

The meeting package never says that a proxy form that follows the example forms listed on the Ministry's website is a valid form.

Some property management companies print proxy forms on dark coloured paper. This makes them difficult to photocopy and can give the impression that any proxy that is not submitted on paper with this colour is not an "official" proxy.

Get a legal opinion
If you are a candidate and you are facing any of these issues, seek a legal opinion from a lawyer that is experienced in condominium law. If your lawyer says that this notice is not binding, then have your lawyer send the corporation's lawyer a letter stating this. (The board and management may sing a different tune when they know that a competent lawyer is looking over their shoulders.)

The information package encourages owners, that will not be attending the meeting, to fill in their proxy and turn it in to the management office.

This gives the manager the opportunity to read the returned proxies and the manager or a board member can visit the owners who voted for candidates that the board disapproves of and urge them to change their vote.

It is more efficient and intimidating when the manager requests the owner to visit him/her at the management office. Once the owner is there, the manager can often persuade an owner to fill in a new proxy.

Need help?

One Toronto condo posted a notice urging the owners to contact the property manager if they need help in filling out their proxy. What could be more confusing than selecting the names of "suitable" candidates?

Signing a blank proxy form
At a condo in Scarborough, the superintendent collects the proxies from the Chinese residents for the board. He tells them that if they do not know how to fill in the form, that is okay, just sign your name and we will fill in the rest of the rest of the form for you.

Often, a candidate will ask an owner to sign a blank proxy form and the candidate will fill in the blank spaces later. So the candidate fills in the candidates names and the date at his/her leisure.

So thoughtful; so helpful.

The candidate then can cut political back room deals with the other candidates and once the deal is made, they fill in each other's names in the blank spaces.

A clever candidate will write in the date of the election and write in a time that states that the proxy was signed one minute prior to the opening of the registration desk. This prevents another proxy, that may be signed by the owner after this proxy was signed, from being recognized as the legitimate one.

(You can see why properly trained scrutineers and an ethical Chair is so important to achieve honest condo corporation elections.)

Begging for quorum

When the manager fears that the AGM may not achieve quorum, the board may post a notice like this one begging for proxies.

"Simply fill in your name, sign and date it returning it to Management or the Concierge desk."

Isn't it obvious that the manager will check off the candidates that he, or she, wants to win? You can bet on it.

Now, it is true that even if an owner doesn't want to vote for any candidates for office, they can submit a proxy that counts towards quorum as this notice suggests. Yet, this notice does not explain that the owner needs to write in the candidates section:

"This proxy is for quorum only and is not a voting instrument."

Changing their mind
Even though it is usually written in the proxy instructions, very few owners realize that after they have signed over a proxy to a candidate, they can change their mind and issue an different proxy. The proxy that has the latest date and time is considered the official proxy.

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