Category

Remote Voting

From e-Voting to Virtual Meetings … an Easy Transition

The road from Albania to Canada has brought Violla Kapllani to manage The Spire condominium highrise in downtown Toronto. Violla has worked for Y.L. Hendler Ltd. since 2013, starting as an administrator and, not long after, a property manager. In 2015 she obtained her RCM. This same year she was recognized with ACMO’s inaugural Genesis Award for ‘a condominium manager who is new to the profession and has displayed exceptional service.’

Now eight years working as a condominium professional and Violla enjoys industry participation and attends events as often as she can. “We learned about CondoVoter at an ACMO luncheon a couple of years ago,” explains Violla. “At 359 units, it was sometimes difficult for us to achieve quorum, which requires 90 owners to meet the 25% threshold. The board of directors approved the electronic voting by-law on September 2018 and it was passed at the 2018 AGM. In 2019, the board of The Spire began using CondoVoter for electronic voting.”

As a property manager, Violla has experienced many benefits of e-Voting not only for herself but for owners too.

“Owners are able to cast their votes ahead of time, which saves so much time at the meeting, not to mention money saved too.”

E-Voting gives all owners the opportunity to vote, whereas in-person meetings were not always easy for everyone to attend. “I saw a difference right away with more owners who came forward to e-Vote. Thanks to e-Voting, we are now well above quorum for our AGMs and other owners’ meetings.” She is also appreciative of the email reminders that CondoVoter sends to owners on behalf of the board. “This one step saves me so much time in preparation and money for printing.”

Violla agrees owners see benefits as well.

“Owners have a better opportunity to participate, which makes them happier. Many owners have told me they like e-Voting because it is convenient and saves time.”

In 2020, when COVID-19 prevented in-person meetings, the board of The Spire switched easily to virtual meetings. The first virtual meeting (held in August 2020) was an adjourned AGM to pass three bylaws that did not pass at the 2019 AGM, followed by a special owners’ meeting. The board of directors hired CondoVoter again for the November 2020 virtual AGM. Since e-Voting was already in place and widely used by owners, Violla reckons a proxy ballot has been used just once. “In my experience, most proxy ballots were invalid anyway due to mistakes in filling them out.”

In addition to virtual meetings, CondoVoter provides various value-added meeting services to The Spire. “Our AGM packages are sent through CondoVoter,” explains Violla. “I previously would get these printed. With virtual meetings I don’t need to order chairs or choose a venue either,” she adds with a laugh.

At their November AGM, Violla noticed more offsite owners participated than at in-person meetings. She feels virtual meetings gives everyone a chance to participate in their community. “Plus, meetings are generally shorter. We don’t have to wait for quorum. We no longer have scrutineers who retire to another room to count ballots and miss parts of the meeting. CondoVoter counts ballots for us electronically.”

All in all, the virtual meeting experience for the board and owners has been extremely positive. “One of the best things we did is hire CondoVoter. We have been impressed every time we complete a meeting.”

You can focus on managing the meetings

In their own words
Interview with Diana Belshaw, president MTCC #1299

Diana Belshaw is an experienced condominium director and a 4-year president of the Board of Directors of MTCC #1299, a 181-unit condominium in the Distillery District of downtown Toronto. She and the Board made an early switch to virtual meetings in 2020 when the Ontario government announcement was made at the start of the pandemic.

“In some ways we were early guinea pigs,” she laughs, as the Board, aided by their corporation lawyer Denise Lash and management, soldiered ahead. “We consistently held virtual meetings. We did a lot of online engagement starting with Board meetings, bylaw meetings and, finally, our AGM,” she explains.

“We found it easy working with CondoVoter. They have a good combination of efficient vote tabulation and meeting management.”

Diana adds “We all can do Zoom. But this was different!” Diana is referring to the many pieces of documentation that are required for condo owners’ meetings and AGMs.

Having gained successful virtual meeting experience, Diana is keen to share her knowledge with others. As a condo Board president, she is particularly pleased with the ability to monitor and know in advance of a meeting how many people have voted. She concedes that there are still a few occasional paper proxies that are used for a handful of owners who remain uncomfortable with online voting while others are whizzes. “There are still some individuals who do not use online banking, and that’s one of the most secure online transactions. So, I suppose these people will not cast a vote online either.”

A huge part of Diana’s experience with electronic voting took place when the Board decided to review all its bylaws at once. “For our bylaw meeting we had 90% voter participation. And for the subsequent AGM, we achieved 80% participation. CondoVoter hosted each of these meetings and were able to produce [and prepare for virtual presentation] the required documents for us. They are very supportive partners.”

The corporation was sometimes on the edge of reaching quorum at in-person meetings, but thanks to a core of fairly active owners they always made it. Now, understandably, Diana’s favourite benefit of virtual meetings is advance voting. “There is more security knowing how votes are managed and it’s most helpful to know you have reached quorum prior to the meeting,” she says. “You aren’t juggling. You can now focus on managing the meeting.” Two other benefits to virtual meetings she has found to be important include: less likelihood for emotions from the floor, and more space and time for other business. “All these benefits occur because our virtual meetings are run efficiently, professionally and carefully.”

Looking back to when in-person meetings were the norm for condominiums, Diana has made this observation. “People are sometimes afraid that virtual meetings are less personal. But that’s just not true,” she states. “In my experience, there is just as much capacity for interaction and commentary.”

She and the Board all agree that they would like to continue with some combination of virtual and in-person meetings in the future.

“We have owners who travel, who have young families, who have busy lifestyles. A hybrid meeting [in-person and virtual] can accommodate all owners.”

We’ve come a long way from 2020, through a pandemic and now halfway through 2021. “Everyone’s online meeting fears have been put to rest,” says Diana. “Virtual meetings work well and they are convenient. I really see no downside.”

Interview with Diane Rouleau, RCM of Freure PM

“We hit all our points!”

“We’ve completed all our virtual AGMs now for the year,” said Diane Rouleau, RCM, OLCM and Assistant Property Manager with Freure Property Management Ltd. Diane, a 10-year+ RCM, along with the Property Manager, manage six properties for Freure in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. A seventh property will be added from the developer in June. “Because we take on properties to manage directly from the developers, the whole condominium ownership is an education process for new owners and tenants.”

They began the search for a virtual meeting provider later in 2020 and, after conducting interviews, selected CondoVoter. “Our corporations each created a ‘virtual meetings and electronic voting bylaw’ and these were passed by a majority of units,” she explains. The bylaw will continue to allow the corporations to conduct their AGMs and electronic voting virtually.

When reflecting on all the recently completed virtual meetings Diane said, “It’s been awesome! The moderators were fantastic. All CondoVoter staff have been lovely to deal with. They’re well-versed and keep our meetings on track. Even our seasoned directors love them [virtual meetings].”

In recent months, CondoVoter tweaked several of its features and added new ones to its services. One of Diane’s favourite features has been the Management Portal. “I get to see which units have pre-voted and when I’ve hit quorum. Once I know this, I can breathe easy. It’s a relief.”

She also allows that meeting pre-registration is a great help. “We’ve been able to achieve 75% participation with virtual meetings. Sometimes we’ve only made 25% participation with in-person meetings.”

Diane has been pleased with the ease of use with virtual meetings that help make owner attendance and participation easier. “Some owners I know, especially those who work shifts, have even been able to log-in to attend the AGMs from their place of employment.” To date, Diane has not come across an issue with their older demographic owners not being able to attend virtual meetings. “Last year perhaps only two out of 64 owners at one corporation didn’t have computer access. All our owners are quite tech-savvy.”

She explains a number of other benefits, especially for managers. “As a property manager I find virtual meetings to be a ‘safer environment’. I still recall in horror an in-person meeting when police had to be called,” she adds with a huge sigh. “With virtual meetings there seems to be more control over speakers and less opportunity for expressing anger or negativity.”

“I’ve also found that while in-person meetings have sometimes run up to 2.5 hours, we can complete all the obligations of an AGM in one hour. There are fewer questions from the floor. Shorter meetings, being more efficient, are also great when working from home.”

Lengthy in-person meetings, at least for now, seem like a distant memory. “With the security of CondoVoter as our third-party provider, they keep us on track and we can hit all the agenda points we need to.”

 

No Computer? No Worries: Vote by Phone to the Rescue

Some of the most common questions we at CondoVoter hear from condominium unit owners and board members who are apprehensive about remote voting are “What if I don’t have a computer” or “I’m new to learning this technology.” We understand how important meeting participation is and we are constantly looking for ways to make remote voting more accessible.

CondoVoter announces our new Vote-by-phone option 

We have developed an easy to follow 3-step process that provides safe and secure remote voting. Our new Vote-by-phone option allows owners to vote remotely, using their phone, with these three simple steps:

  • Step 1. Owners dial CondoVoter’s voting line and authorize themselves using a private pin number.
  • Step 2. A pre-recorded and professional voice actor intuitively explains to owners the items available for them to vote on and prompts them through the process.
  • Step 3. Owners securely place their encrypted vote either through dial tone key pad presses or through voice recognition.

Significant benefits

The Vote-by-phone option comes with several significant benefits. For example, if an email is on record for the unit, the owner will receive a confirmation via email of how they voted. Their vote will also be confirmed via phone. Additionally, owners have the option to change their vote up until voting closes. Furthermore, voting by phone can be done in advance of the meeting, or during the meeting itself.

How it Works 

√ CondoVoter’s Vote-by-phone option integrates directly with our existing online voting platform.

√ Votes placed via phone are instantaneously recorded alongside online votes and results are available in real time.

√ CondoVoter’s system policies prevent multiple votes being cast per unit, accommodates multiple unit owners, and through dynamic ballots presents Owner-Occupied votes only to applicable owners.

As board members and managers, we know it’s important for owners to vote at your condominium’s meetings. Now, you don’t have to worry if you don’t have computer access. CondoVoter’s Vote-by-phone option is here.

We invite you to contact CondoVoter for more information or to schedule your next meeting. Email info@condovoter.com

open

NEW: Sign up now for CondoVoter’s Monthly Newsletter     Sign Up!