Q&A: Proof of Proxy?

Q What are the rules concerning how many proxies any one person can submit? Also, does a person submitting proxies have to be a unit owner? Or even live in the complex? We have a situation where a renter, not owner, of a co-op collects many proxies, some from older residents, and is in a position to sway elections concerning board members. Is this legal?

—Concerned Shareholder

A “Voting by proxy is generally acceptable and necessary,” according to attorney Nancy A. Cifalino, Esq., of the New Jersey-based law firm of Celentano, Stadtmauer & Walentowicz, LLP. ”Only a unit owner can sign a proxy. It has been held, however, that a person entitled to act as a proxy does not have to be as legally-qualified as the person who appoints the proxy. See 18 C.J.S. Section 388. Thus, in the context of co-op voting, only a shareholder can appoint a proxy. The appointee, however, is not required to be a shareholder. That would entitle even a renter to act as a proxy and the right to vote however he or she chooses. Moreover, it does not appear that there is a limit to the amount of proxies one person can vote on. Most condominium association bylaws address the formality of proxies but do not qualify the number of proxies one can hold or the status of the proxy. Although an amendment to the bylaws limiting a proxy holder to one, or limiting a proxy holder to another shareholder, may pass legal muster, it may be more effective to mail informational notices to the shareholders urging each shareholders’ personal presence for voting purposes.”

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