Condominium Manager’s Role in the Electronic Voting Process
The CMRAO has recently received several inquiries regarding the condominium manager’s role in relation to collecting and handling electronic votes prior to a meeting of owners.
As condominium managers are aware, the Condominium Act, 1998 (Condo Act), currently allows owners to cast votes by electronic means, if permitted by the by-laws of the condominium corporation. On April 24, 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Condo Act was temporarily amended to allow for electronic voting at owners’ meetings without an electronic voting provision in the corporation’s by-laws.
Given the current circumstances, more condominium corporations in Ontario have adopted electronic voting, and condominium managers may find themselves operating in new territory and situations where they have access to voting information ahead of meetings.
Handling Electronic Votes
Condominium managers are licensed professionals who are expected to set a good example of professional conduct when providing condominium management services. When executing the administrative requirements of owners’ meetings, condominium managers are expected to act as neutral and impartial administrators.
In 2018, the CMRAO published A Guide for Licensees: The Use of Proxies and Proxy Forms. This guide serves as a helpful resource outlining the legal and ethical obligations of licensed condominium managers and management provider businesses regarding the use of proxies and proxy forms. The guide also notes that condominium managers are required to follow the same ethical obligations surrounding the use of proxy forms when administering electronic voting processes.
Regardless of the type of electronic voting platform (that is, ones that collect votes via advanced electronic ballots or ones that generate proxy forms based on an electronic form), managers should never use or share information about advance voting patterns in an attempt to influence the results of a vote. In fact, under no circumstances should managers attempt to influence the results of an owners’ vote.
Information received by the CMRAO suggests that in certain circumstances condominium managers may have pressured the administrators of electronic voting platforms to obtain advance voting results prior to an owners’ meeting. This has raised the issue of whether the information obtained by condominium managers is being used for the purpose of influencing voting outcomes. Licensees are advised to refrain from this activity and should be aware that any attempt to influence the outcome of owners’ votes in any way constitutes a violation of the Condominium Management Services Act, 2015, and the Code of Ethics regulation, and the licensee will be subject to disciplinary action by the CMRAO.
Where to go for Additional Information
For more information, please see the CMRAO’s, A Guide for Licensees: The Use of Proxies and Proxy Forms. The Condominium Authority of Ontario has also published a useful resource, Guide to Conducting Owners’ Meetings During the COVID-19 Pandemic.