Oregon and Washington law authorize the use of proxies unless prohibited by the governing documents. (RCW 24.03.085, ORS 65.231) Many condominium and homeowner associations find it impossible to achieve quorum at annual meetings without the use of proxies.
A proxy is a power of attorney between the “proxy giver” and the “proxy holder”. The proxy holder attends the ownership meeting and can act on behalf of the proxy giver, including making motions, voting, and engaging in debate.
When to Use Proxies
Proxies are typically exclusive to membership meetings, and in most cases should not be used for board meetings. Board members are elected specifically because owners trust the board member’s judgment, expertise, or knowledge. If a board member cedes their responsibilities to another individual, then they are not fulfilling their fiduciary duties. Oregon explicitly prohibits the use of proxies in board meetings. (ORS 100.419 & 94.641)
Types of Proxies
There are many types of proxies:
1. General proxies;
2. Directed proxies;
3. Proxies for the purpose of establishing quorum; and
4. Combinations of general and directed proxies.
General proxies are ideal unless circumstances require otherwise.
The Proxy Holder
Unless prohibited by the governing documents, the proxy holder may be any individual, including individuals who may not even live in the same community. For example, I could give my proxy to my grandmother who lives in another town. What’s important is that I give my proxy to someone I trust, and who will exercise good judgment.
Proxies and Voting
Keep in mind that giving a proxy to the proxy holder does not cast a vote. It merely authorizes the proxy holder to attend the meeting and then cast votes on behalf of the proxy giver. Proxies are not absentee ballots, and there is no such thing as a “proxy ballot”.
If the proxy giver wants the proxy holder to vote a certain way, then a “directed” proxy may be used. But there are downsides to directed proxies. Suppose I give my neighbor a directed proxy which instructs my neighbor to vote for Jill for the board. However, as the meeting begins Jill decides not to run for the board, and Jane steps into Jill’s place. Now, my directed proxy is useless (not quite useless, it still counts toward the quorum requirement).
A proxy should contain the following information:
1. Name of association
2. Name of proxy giver
3. Proxy giver’s unit, lot or address
4. Name of proxy holder
5. Date when proxy giver signs
6. Expiration date
Click here for a sample proxy: Sample Proxy