Q. For the annual meeting, there are seven people running for five positions. The management company sent a proxy to all owners and requested that it either be mailed to them or dropped in the mailbox in the building lobby. This mailbox is accessed by current board members and items reviewed. Is this ethical to have those members who are on the ballot, receiving them and reviewing them before the meeting?
A. “Unit owner voting at annual or specially held meetings is subject to various rules and regulations,” notes attorney Howard S. Goldman, partner in Goldman & Pease in Needham, Massachusetts. “Chief among the regulations is that a majority of all unit owners must vote to form a quorum. Obtaining the quorum is difficult due to unit owner apathy, and to overcome this, the condo documents permit voting by proxy. But the proxy documentation should be authenticated by either signature of an attesting witness and/or by notarization. Such proxies should be of a limited duration and may authorize voting on the unit owner’s behalf for any and all matters (i.e. vote on all matters presented) or be restricted to vote on a specific matter only (i.e. vote for candidate X).
“The question posited does not disclose whether the completed proxies are general or specific in nature, whether a specific person is designated to vote on behalf of the unit owner, or whether such proxies have been authorized by a unit owner or by a notary public. Regardless, associations are active, functioning governing bodies that must be flexible for requirements of their unit owner members to facilitate decision making, such as ‘dropping off the proxy at the mail box.’ Such drop-off process would be aided by adding ‘Confidential/For Management Only” and delivered in a sealed envelope. Board elections can be contentious and personal, so associations would be well advised to designate the management company to act as the independent party to directly oversee election results.”