Earlier this year, there were several stories that emerged about systemic proxy fraud and battles over non-resident / non-owner condo board directors were covered by CBCNews and the Globe and Mail. Our take on these articles and the issue of systemic proxy fraud in this blog post.
So, why are paper proxies so easy to defraud?
Condo Owners don't know their rights
Many condo owners do not understand the proxy process. So when a person comes knocking on the door requesting their vote, some may not check the identity of the person going door-to-door, understand what they are signing, or simply handover incomplete proxies because they are unaware that this violates the Condo Act.
Tampering and forgery
When an owner hands over their paper proxy to a proxy holder, the holder has the ability to change the vote or forge their signature on paper. Forged proxies were at the centre of the condo battle controversy when three men and their associates took aggressive steps to get on boards of several downtown condos. Several owners at one of the condos in question have provided sworn affidavits to the police that their signatures were forged on their proxies, and the property management firm at a second condo corporation found a mismatch between the signatures on the proxies and what they had on file.
Lack of validation measures
The only reliable way to verify intent would be for the chairperson to contact the each owner at the time of proxy registration before a meeting, but that’s not a feasible process when there are hundreds or even thousands of proxies that need to be verified. Proxies presented at meetings would be taken at face value by the chairperson and the scrutineers, and the results of the election would then be entered into the meeting minutes.
The startling examples of proxy fraud seen in the condo battle controversy reinforce the need for a more secure proxy. Online proxies have several security mechanisms in place to ensure voting intent and protect against fraud.
How does GetQuorum's Electronic Proxy System protect against fraud?
It reliably identifies the condo owner assigning the proxy
Ensuring voting intent through reliable security is important to us. GetQuorum provides unique encrypted tokens to each owner via email. Owners enter the platform using their encrypted token via a unique link which ensures reliable identification before they can complete their proxy. Owners that require access to the platform can make a request through their property mangement to receive their unique token. (Want to learn more or just chat about encryption and security contact us).
It verifies the condo owner's voting intentions
When an owner goes through the proxy submission process on the GetQuorum platform they are provided with various confirmation dialogs to confirm their intent to vote a certain way through a review screen before submission and a copy of a receipt of the proxy for verification through email. GetQuorum also allows owners the ability to change their mind about their submission by simply logging back onto the platform using the secure token provided to submit a new proxy.
The proxies are easily auditable
Proxies must be retained for at least 90 days after an AGM or a requisitioned meeting in the event that someone contests their validity. At one of the condos where one of the men had produced ninety fraudulent proxies, residents demanded an audit. They were later informed that many of the proxies had been destroyed in a flood. The few proxies that were recovered displayed irregularities.
“In one case, a condo owner who had died years earlier was supposedly able to sign a proxy ballot. Other residents claim their signatures were forged.” - CBCNews (May 16, 2017)
Electronic proxies are stored digitally and cannot be doctored because of the cryptographic hashes used to ensure file integrity. In the case where there is a challenge of the election results after a meeting, electronic proxies are auditable and can be easily produced when requested.
We are an independent party
In politically charged environments, the benefits of having an unbiased third party means that no undue influence can be exerted by condo management or the Board. Residents, Boards, and condo management can be assured that a fair and independent process has been conducted, and the results for the election of new directors or introduction of a new bylaw represents the true intent of the voters.
GetQuorum goes to great lengths to ensure that every proxy is securely submitted and is safeguarded against fraud. Our approach of simplifying the submission process, ensuring transparency, and making it convenient for condominium owners has resulted in achieving quorum for each of our clients. If your corporation would like to start using electronic proxies or would like to learn more about our security features contact us today.