The bylaws of most community associations permit members to vote “in person” or “by proxy.” Voting “in person” means just what it sounds like: a member attends a meeting and casts their vote while physically in attendance. But what does voting “by proxy” mean? Black’s Law Dictionary defines a “proxy” as the written authorization given by one person to another so that the second person can act for the first.

Thus, when a member of a community association votes by proxy, they give written authorization for another person to vote for them. It may be tempting to take short cuts in this process, but if your members are voting by proxy, they must actually execute a proper proxy.

Voting “by proxy” can be done by a general proxy or directed proxy. With a general proxy, the member executes the proxy and gives the appointed person the authority to attend the association meeting and act for the member. If the association is holding trustee elections, the appointed person attends the meeting and completes a ballot on behalf of the member, and has full discretion on choosing who to vote for.

With a directed proxy, instead the member executes the directed proxy and gives the appointed person the authority to attend the association meeting and act in a specific way as directed by the member. If the association is holding trustee elections, the appointed person is directed by the member as to who to vote for. The appointed person casts the ballot, but has no discretion over the actual voting. In some ways a directed proxy may seem the same as an absentee ballot; however, they are not the same and are not interchangeable.

If you need assistance preparing proxies or with elections in general, please feel free to contact Stark & Stark’s Community Association Group.