Bob Aaron firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s better for Ontario condominiums and their owners: electronic proxies or electronic voting? And what’s the difference?
I recently wrote about solving the problem of condo owner apathy to meetings, where their votes are needed, by introducing electronic voting.
But two Toronto condominium law experts — Audrey Loeb, of Shibley Righton, and Joy Matthews, of Rutherford & Matthews — point out that there is a difference between electronic voting (which I wrote about) and electronic proxies.
Once an electronic vote is cast, typically in advance of a meeting, its function is finished and the ballot cannot be used a second time.
By contrast, an electronic proxy can be reused a number of times, for a number of voting matters, during one meeting. It allows owners to transfer their voting rights to people they trust.
Loeb is the author of two major condominium law texts. She recommends that her clients use an electronic proxy platform called GetQuorum. It is the largest electronic vote and governance service in the province, and has been used at about 2,000 Ontario condominium general meetings.
She points out that the Condominium Act does not provide any guidance on how electronic voting is supposed to work. And without standardized rules about implementing electronic voting, some condominium bylaws are too vague and some are overly restrictive.
The legislation is silent on what happens if an owner, who voted by advance ballot, decides to show up and vote in person at a meeting. In Loeb’s opinion, an electronic ballot cannot be revoked — and it cannot be used to vote on other matters that may come up at an owner’s meeting.
I agree with Loeb that Ontario’s legislated proxy form is overly complicated. What was once a one-page form has become nine pages.
Condominium lawyers Joy Mathews, of Rutherford and Mathews, and Warren Kleiner, also at Shibley Righton, have taken opposing views in an article in the fall 2019 issue of “Condovoice.” Both agree that e-voting and electronic proxies do increase owner participation — but they both believe neither will solve the overriding problem of owner apathy.
I often suggest to my condo-buying clients that they might want to get involved in the condominium’s business by running for the board. And, almost always, I get a negative response.
Mathews favours the electronic voting option I wrote about last month, and believes that it allows the owners to submit their vote without the need of a proxy. By doing this, they remain in full control of their vote.
Kleiner, on the other hand, agrees with Loeb. Through a proxy, he says, the owner can give the proxy holder the right to ask questions of the board and management at a meeting.
He notes that there are still significant questions about how the courts will deal with electronic voting, and until that happens, his view is that using electronic proxies appears to be the safer alternative — offering the same benefits as electronic voting, and more.