From the Fall 2021 Issue
Preventing Fraud in Your Condominium with Electronic Voting
Fraud & Crime
Electronic voting brings a measure of security, transparency, auditability, and simplicity to owner participation at AGMs and SGMs, all integral components in reducing potential fraud and ensuring integrity in condominium governance.
The overwhelming majority of property managers, board members and owners are good, well-intended honest people. Regardless, the integrity of condominium governance needs to be ingrained into all of the processes used to make decisions at the board level, especially when it pertains to elections, AGMs and other matters requiring input and voting from owners. My own experience shapes this perspective as a board member, a vendor in the condominium space, and an owner who has had the unfortunate experience of requisitioning the removal of board members and having engaged in a proxy fight at my condo. Through this experience, I’ve learned the hard way about the importance of ensuring the integrity of condominium governance and can confidently say that electronic voting is a critical component in doing so. With that said, here are a few ways using some form of electronic voting ingrains integrity, security, transparency, auditability
and simplicity into the governance of condominiums.
Let’s start with simplicity and participation. When more owners are involved in voting, it becomes difficult for smaller groups with agendas to control the board. Increased participation also makes board members and property management more accountable, which is a good thing and is an essential check on fraud. For these reasons, corporations should always want as many of their owners to participate in voting as possible. However, while beneficial for them to participate, most owners don’t like to attend AGMs, and many can’t, won’t or don’t know how to complete the proxy form in its current iteration from the provincial government, making increasing owner participation a real challenge. As you can see, there is a direct correlation between simplicity and participation. For this reason, offering owners an easy-to-use electronic voting platform has become crucial to corporations looking to increase voter participation and ensure the accountability of votes cast.
Electronic voting also creates a secure voting environment. Electronic voting is infinitely more secure than traditional paper proxy processes, typically secured to an owner’s email address or via a pin or password. A majority of electronic voting platforms will also have proprietary security tracking, further enhancing the security of votes and significantly limiting potential tampering. And while the Condo Act ensures that owners will always have the right to submit proxies in paper format, enabling owners who are unable to attend meetings to submit proxies electronically prior to the meeting significantly reduces the number of paper proxies submitted when compared to situations when a paper proxy is the only means of voting.
In our experience, paper proxy submissions make up only a small percentage of total proxies submitted when electronic voting is made available, significantly reducing opportunities for tampering, simplifying scrutinization, and strengthening the overall integrity of the voting process.
Improved Accountability & Transparency
Last but not least, one of the most notable advantages of electronic voting in combating potential fraud is the transparency and auditability that is readily available when needed.
Throughout the approximate 1,600 virtual AGMs we hosted in the past year, we had a few meetings where, in addition to reporting on virtual meeting attendance, questions were asked that required a detailed analysis of advance and in-meeting voting. In these situations, obtaining the auditable records of who voted and when, almost instantly, is a notable time saver and becomes crucial to piecing together contested or contentious elections and making decisions based on the results.
Preventing fraud in condominiums requires a holistic approach at every level of management. Ensuring that owners can participate in elections simply through secure, electronic methods, in reality, is only one small part of the bigger picture of preventing fraud. In my experience, developing processes for obtaining quotes, documenting approvals, using industry-standard RFP and project tendering are all critical to eliminating opportunities for fraud and ensuring the integrity of your condominium’s governance. All board members and owners should also want and encourage their corporation to embrace strong governance policies; policies that protect everyone involved, from Property Management to the board to owners.
All in all, leveraging solutions and practices that enhance transparency, auditability, security and accountability will keep the corporation on the right track to ensuring the integrity of your condominium’s governance.
Ben Zelikovitz is a Co-Founder of GetQuorum, an industry-leading provider of virtual meeting, electronic proxy, voting, and notice distribution services. Since 2016, Ben and the GetQuorum team have helped thousands of Condominiums and HOAs across North America achieve quorum, pass bylaws, reduce cost and conduct successful AGMs. GetQuorum is the proud recipient of the 2020 ACMO Associate of the Year.