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Strata voting goes hi-tech – and old school – in new regs

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Flat Chat with Jimmy Thomson

A significant lurch towards strata democracy was revealed last week with proposed regulations allowing participation in meetings by people who need not be in the same country, let alone the same room.

They include discussion by telephone and video conferencing as well as voting by email, text, snail mail and – most interestingly – on a professional voting website.

Excluded from remote voting, however, is the election of the strata committee, no doubt because that’s where the hijacking of the democratic process begins and ends.  Instead the regulations propose going old school – pens and bits of paper.

The move is certainly going to make it much harder for rusted-on committee members to blithely – and illegally – cross-nominate each other. Nominations and even votes have to be in writing.

Under the proposed regulations, at your AGM, you will be given a blank piece of paper for each of the votes you hold and you’ll write down the names of the people you want to elect to the committee and then sign it.  No more pre-prepared ballot papers, conveniently identifying the chairman’s “ticket” and excluding everyone else.

It’s a step forward but there is one thing missing that could tighten things up enough to make a significant difference: The paper and pen rule needs to apply to proxy votes too.

There will be a limit on the number of proxy votes each owner can hold but there’s nothing to stop power-addicted chairs and secretaries asking for blank but signed forms so that they and their mates can later distribute the proxies among themselves. And if they can, trust me, they will.

Every proxy vote should have the name of the proposed proxy holder written by the same hand that signed it.  If the chair or secretary quickly run out of their allocation, too bad – they should have encouraged others to make themselves available.

But at least we are getting rid of the scare tactic that you have to give the chairman your proxy or the AGM will be non-quorate and will cost a lot of money to hold another.

Under the new Act, if the AGM isn’t quorate, the people who did bother to turn up can vote to just go ahead.

You can view and comment on the regulations on the government’s Finance Services and Innovations website

By the way, Flat Chat Live went very well (thanks for asking) and there is a roundup of the questions and answers on HERE.

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