As NSW apartment residents think about what changes they would like to see in strata law, and some of us dive into the deep dark waters of the online consultation process, our good friends and sponsors at StrataAnswers have raised the subject of electronic and pre-meeting voting?
Are they the new proxy harvesting, as some Flatchatters have claimed. Are they anti-democratic because they ask you to vote before you have heard that arguments for both sides?
Here’s their take on the whole pre and electronic voting issue:
There are 101 strata matters that need to be looked into in this Review and the ones that will get most attention will be those that are already canvassed in the consultation document; but there are others… and important ones.
Let’s think about what has been happening with meetings over this last Covid year; there has been an exponential increase in the number of electronic meetings or meetings that have been a mix of electronic or physical.
If electronic meetings are to be a permanent fact of life, then we have to clean up the way that strata managers identify those voting online. E.g. does a name under a zoom screen provide evidence of who the voter is ? What about multiple owners on zoom who are logged in on the same connection? etc.
Even more important….PRE-MEETING VOTING is completely different to electronic meeting occurring when a meeting is being live streamed. It’s typically asking owners to provide their votes ( probably by email) AHEAD of the meeting whether it is a physical or electronic meeting. This might work as a way to more easily get routine resolutions approved and give owners the feeling that they have participated even if they never came to the meeting ; but it is fraught with danger…
To offer the opportunity for owners to vote ahead of the meeting is to invite owners to vote WITHOUT HAVING HEARD any discussion around the motion, let alone any debate if the motion was contentious. It is fundamental that votes should be cast in an informed manner AFTER a matter has been debated, NOT BEFORE the motion has been discussed – why else do we have debate / discussion ?
We have seen how unscrupulous strata committees have used Pre-Meeting voting to assist in getting their favoured motions approved with a minimum of explanation and opposition.
We have also seen how owners who put forward motions end up putting their case to other owners at a general meeting, only to find that, despite having won the approval of those physically present or online at the meeting, their motion is defeated by the Pre-Meeting votes cast against them by owners who were never there and who had never listened to the “case” and the arguments.
Pre-Meeting voting may have a limited role for dealing with non-contentious matters but the Act needs to be amended so that it does not displace the traditional sequence of Meet, Debate and Vote. ( It could also assist if the Act provided for the owners corporation to be obliged to circulate the “case” in support of an owner’s motion and not just the “case” for those motions that the strata committee supports.)
http://www.strataanswers.com.au – practical solutions for strata living