Voting on a Special Resolution | Another day in paradise | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered
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The rules on voting a special resolution by-law state that the motion passes if not more than 25% vote against it, based on unit entitlement.
Is it fair to say then that a non-vote is essentially a Yes vote, because it is up to those against the motion to raise enough votes ?
For the calulation of the +25% against – is it calulated on the total of unit entitlements for the Strata Plan, or the entitlements of only those voting ?
The calculation is on the number of owners actually voting (or their unit entitlements if a poll is called). A non-vote is exactly that. It’s not a yes vote and, in fact, usually helps the “no” side because it makes it easier to reach the 25 percent of a reduced figure. And before we get into it, an abstention is not a vote – it’s a declaration that you aren’t voting, so it can’t be counted in the overall percentages.
And just to clarify the final point, the calculation is based on those actually voting (or their unit entitlements). This is what the Fair Trading website says: “A special resolution is passed if at least three-quarters of the votes cast support it.” That’s ‘votes cast’ not voters present or owners.
Boy, that could make it really hard to get a special resolution up. In the ACT it is defined differently and a bit easier to pass. Here a special resolution requires both a) a majority in favour, and b) fewer than 1/3 opposed, of those present and entitled to vote, in person or by proxy. Thus, in our case, we have 105 owners but 5 neither show up nor put in a proxy vote, so 100 people are ‘present’ at the meeting, 51 vote yes, 33 vote no, and the rest abstain and the motion would pass (33 is less than a third of 100). On the other hand, if 21 don’t show up or put in a proxy vote, there would be 84 people at the meeting, 51 vote yes, 33 vote no, it would fail (33 is more than a third of 84). The proxy/absentee voting forms we use have yes/no/abstain options on them for each motion because it is quite possible that a member would want to vote yes or no on some motions but abstain on others, perhaps not caring either way, or perhaps not objecting strongly enough to want to prevent a motion passing if a majority support it.
Apart from the 33 percent against measure, there seems to be a subtle but significant difference between present and allowed to vote (including by proxy) and, in NSW, actually voting. I’m pretty sure that if anyone in NSW ticked the ‘abstain’ box, that vote would not be counted in the calculation of the required percentage. That obviously makes it easier to get the 25% ‘no’ vote up, rather than the ACT’s 33%, so maybe it all evens out in the end.
I think that NSW is harder for advocates of a Yes vote/easier for No advocates all round. If you want to get your special resolution passed and there will be 25 No votes you need to get >75 Yes votes to win. In the ACT if there will be 25 No votes you need >25 Yes votes and >50 taking part in the meeting to win.
A few years ago we encouraged members to take part in a vote, even if they were ambivalent, even if they would be formally included in the meeting but then abstain. Like on many issues, every person in the minority who opposed the proposal was going to vote. Others whose support for the proposal was less than passionate could not be counted on to show up. Then there were a few who were happy to go with the majority either way and very unlikely to take part. Those opposing were outraged at the tactic of encouraging members to take part in the democratic process! The vote went 51 yes, 34 No, 3 Abstain. 34/88 is >1/3 so the motion failed.
“ We must bear in mind, then, that there is nothing more difficult and dangerous, or more doubtful of success, than an attempt to introduce a new order of things in any state. For the innovator has for enemies all those who derived advantages from the old order of things, whilst those who expect to be benefited by the new institutions will be but lukewarm defenders. This indifference arises in part from fear of their adversaries who were favoured by the existing laws, and partly from the incredulity of men who have no faith in anything new that is not the result of well-established experience. Hence it is that, whenever the opponents of the new order of things have the opportunity to attack it, they will do it with the zeal of partisans, whilst the others defend it but feebly, so that it is dangerous to rely upon the latter.”
The proposal was a complete ‘no brainer’ good idea and the ACT Unit Titles Act was under review shortly after. The Act was amended, in part due to our experience. Since 31st March the same sort of proposal only requires an ordinary resolution. So we put a revised version of the same proposal to a meeting two weeks ago. This time it got up 77:13 (and 3 abstains that didn’t matter because it was an ordinary resolution this time).
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