Online voting at annual shareholder meetings (AGMs) has jumped since the COVID-19 outbreak as condo owners and condo boards are taking the World Health Organization's (WHO) advice to avoid large gatherings.
We understand that many condo boards are currently considering whether they are able to postpone their AGMs in the face of Coronavirus. If you can, we at GetQuorum recommend you do so. We also understand that, for some communities, it will be important to proceed with their AGM to meet statutory requirements and conduct critical business that can't be delayed. As such, we're here to outline some strategies you may be able to use if you decide to proceed with your AGM.
Reducing the footprint of the meeting
The WHO has recommended against large public gatherings of people. As an AGM is a gathering of owners, the goal is to reduce the number of owners that feel the need to attend in person.
1. Encourage online proxy and/or voting
Encourage your owners to provide their proxy or ballot ahead of the meeting. This allows for the owner to be represented at the meeting for Quorum and exercise their democratic right to vote on important matters. By casting their ballot or proxy online ahead of time, an owner may no longer feel the need to attend in person.
Note: In Ontario, online proxies are permitted under the Condo Act. However, Corporations must first pass a by-law to if they intend to use online balloting instead. To learn about the differences between electronic ballots and proxies, read this post. In Florida, electronic ballots are permitted under Florida Statutes 718 and 720.
2. Broadcast the meeting online
There's an abundance of online software platforms that allow for the real-time virtual meetings. For instance, Google and Microsoft have just recently announced that they are making their enterprise conferencing tools free due to the outbreak of Coronavirus.
Webinar software can also be a good solution for broadcasting of an AGM as it allows a chairperson control of who can speak at any given time. Most webinar software allows for viewers to ask questions within a chat window or "raise their hand" virtually.
Here are some of our recommendations for conferencing/webinar software:
Regardless of which software you choose (they're all equally great and similarly priced), you will need the following in order to have a good quality broadcast:
- a laptop with a good internet connection
- a web camera with a microphone
3. Encourage owners to send in their questions before the meeting
For some owners, the AGM is a rare opportunity for them to ask questions of the board directly. Owners that wish to raise an issue(s) at the AGM should be encouraged to send them in ahead of time. The board can then commit to answering these questions during the meeting. Management can document the responses and relay them back to the owners, or respond to the questions in an information circular to be sent to owners shortly after the meeting. This way, an owner need not attend the meeting to have their issue(s) addressed.
The COVID-19 situation is evolving fluidly, we at GetQuorum hope that everyone stays safe. If you need help rescheduling your AGM, please reach out, we're happy to assist in any way we can.