What Is a Proxy in a Homeowners Association?

January 11, 2023

When imagining elections of a homeowners association (HOA), most think of the election of board members or updates to existing community rules–not many consider the bumps and hurdles that could potentially prevent HOA voting from going smoothly. 

While it is a prerequisite for most homeowners association board members to live or own property within the subdivision maintained by the HOA, there is no guarantee that all board members will be able to attend all meetings or be able to vote every time there is an issue up for decision. Some members may have another property they live at and cannot travel to the site to make an in-person vote. Others may be dealing with other life events or obligations that take priority.

This is when a proxy can come in handy. A proxy is a document that authorizes an owner (in this case, an HOA board member) to appoint someone else to represent and vote for them at a meeting.

Proxies are typically appointed and used when board members want to vote, but cannot physically be there. They are also used when e-voting is not an option and the board still needs a certain number of votes to reach a quorum (the number of board members who must be present before a meeting can begin). 

If you are looking into how to start a homeowners association, it is important to consider what the stance will be on utilizing proxies and include that in the governing documents.

Who Can be Appointed as a Proxy?

Anybody can be appointed as a proxy, but there can be exceptions. Check your state law and governing documents to ensure there are not any specific conditions about who can be appointed as a proxy. It is recommended you appoint someone you trust to prevent someone from voting for a representative or a project in a way that does not align with your wishes.

Friends, spouses, and neighbors are commonly appointed as proxies. Sometimes, other owners are too. It is also possible to give a proxy to more than one person, depending on the laws and governing documents, as well as the issues at hand.

Proxies are generally allowed during an Annual General Meeting or requisition meeting in order to reach a quorum. However, check your state's regulations on this as they may not be allowed at every meeting.

How Does Proxy Voting Work?

Proxies must be designated in writing. Templates can be used to create proxy-designation documents to ensure the same information is required for all proxies who attend meetings. 

You will need to know the specifics of how a proxy is supposed to work with that board, who to send the designation form to, as well as information about the board member who is giving the proxy and how the owner wants the proxy to vote. These are typically filled out for each meeting the proxy attends. This means a proxy-designation document cannot be reused, even if the owner is designating a proxy they have used before.

There are also two types of proxies:

  • Directed Proxy: This proxy holder has a right to vote on behalf of the designated owner, but only on specific issues.
  • Non-Directed Proxy: The proxy holder can vote on whatever issues are on the meeting’s agenda.

Using Proxies Appropriately

It is critical that your board use best practices when proxies are involved in voting. To avoid any disputes or conflicts, continue to cross-reference your state and local regulations regarding proxies. 

The board member designating a proxy should make a copy of the original designation document and give it to the proxy holder who will be voting on their behalf. The person acting as the proxy must show up in person to the meeting and cast a ballot for the owner’s vote to count.

Having multiple copies of the designation document can ensure the proxy does in fact vote the way the board member intended. It is recommended that there be a written process for ensuring the proxy is following the directions given by the board member. Many associations have different colored ballots for proxies so that they can easily pick out and evaluate the proxy’s vote as needed.

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to navigate through the procedures that need to be followed for a proxy, especially when you are required to abide by the bylaws and regulations of your state or other authorities. Consulting with voting process professionals, such as ElectionBuddy, will not only help streamline your voting but also ensure a fair voting process. Vote with ease and confidence with ElectionBuddy!

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