Goodspeed: Proxy votes are okay for condo associations
QUESTION: Recently our condo association held our annual meeting during which an election of trustees was conducted. One trustee brought proxies from seven residents (plus his own vote). One trustee resigned a couple of years ago in order to be appointed the resident property manager. This person also brought four or five proxies (plus his own vote) and participated in the meeting in his capacity as property manager.
I questioned the "employee" being able to cast proxy votes, my thinking being that the property manager was an employee, and in effect, was casting a vote for his "boss."
The result of this election was that two of the trustees up for reelection were voted back in, squeezing out a new person. I, of course, do not question the property manager casting his own vote as he is a resident, but only his casting of proxy votes. May I have your thoughts on the legality of this event?
ANSWER: First, a little primer on proxies.
Proxies are extremely common, and in fact, essential to condo governance. Most annual meetings would not be able to obtain a quorum, and thus not be able to be held without proxy votes.
Proxies give another person permission to vote for you so you do not have to attend a meeting and vote yourself. Proxies can be blank or they can direct the person to whom you give your proxy to vote a certain way.
The property manager/resident who participated in the meeting has all the rights of ownership, including voting and exercising proxies. Even if the property manager was not a resident, he/she could bring and exercise proxy votes, whether blank or directed.
Proxies do not have to be brought by other residents. They can be brought by outside parties – attorneys, accountants, friends, neighbors, etc.
The person giving the proxy is saying, in effect, “I trust this person to vote in my best interest,” in the case of a blank proxy, or to vote as I have directed in the case of a directed proxy.
Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: email@example.com.