Voting by show of hands

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At most condo meetings voting for procedural matters, such as to approve the minutes or adjourn the meeting, is typically done by show of hands. Other matters, such as voting on by-laws or rule changes, substantial changes to the common elements, or the election or removal of directors, are done by ballot and proxy. Does it always have to be this way? Can a show of hands be used for an election? What about a vote on a new by-law?

Methods of Voting

Section 52 of the Act states that votes may be cast by a show or hands or a recorded vote.

Show of Hands

Voting by show of hands is exactly as it sounds. When a motion is on the floor and seconded (when required), the owners raise a hand to vote in favour of or against the proposed motion. The show of hands method is quick and easy. The most obvious disadvantage is that the vote is performed in the open; there is no hiding an owner’s vote from the other owners. As such, show of hands voting may not be the most appropriate for sensitive matters, like the election or removal of directors.

Tip: When voting by show of hands it is important to remember the proxies and owners who own multiple units as they must be counted as more than one vote. Where a person represents several units it can be difficult to count by show of hands. Some condos will make it easier by providing the person with a piece of paper to raise during any show of hands votes. The paper is often a different colour so it stands out easily in the crowd. It usually indicates the number of units the person represents.

Recorded Vote

A recorded vote can be marked on a ballot cast by the owner or a proxy holder (if the proxy form instructs the person to vote for the owner), a proxy form, or using telephonic or electronic means (if the condo has a by-law authorizing such). Any person entitled to vote at the meeting may request a recorded vote before or promptly after the vote.

Tip: Unlike most by-laws that require the owners of a majority of the units in the condo to vote in favour of it, by-laws to permit electronic voting only require the approval of the owners of a majority of the units represented at the meeting.  So, if quorum is 25% of the owners, it is possible to pass the electronic voting by-laws with as little as 13% of the owners in favour.  This is a significantly easier hurdle than a majority of all units.

Proponents of electronic voting argue that it is a more convenient and secure method compared to proxy voting. They often argue the proxy forms can be easily manipulated after signed by the owner, or forged completely. Personally, I’m not sure electronic voting is the be all and end all of condo voting. While it may be more convenient for some, others may find it difficult to use. It also comes at a cost. Furthermore, it is still possible for the voting process to be manipulated. Nothing is perfectly secure these days when technology is involved. That said, electronic voting may be a solution for condos that have difficulty achieving quorum at their owners’ meeting.

Sensitive Matters

Even though a show of hands is a permissible method of vote for most types of voting, it isn’t always the best option. As described above, a show of hands vote is not ideal for elections or removal of directors. Also, where the condo is concerned about a legal challenge or dispute over the vote a recorded vote is the better method as it will produce evidence of the result as opposed to a show of hands vote where the chair announces the result and it is entered in the minutes only.

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