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CCOC Decision Summary

#259-O, Williams v. Kenwood Place Condominium Inc. (January 6, 1995) (Panel: Alper, Blumberg, Fox) 

The condominium owner (CO) filed a challenge to the condominium association's (CA's) 1993  election on the grounds that the absentee and proxy ballots were invalid and the election was not managed according to Robert's Rules of Order.

The evidence at the hearing showed that in 1993 the CA conducted an election for 3 positions on its board of directors; the return envelopes used for the absentee and proxy ballots did not contain the unit owner's signature or the identification of the unit; some ballots contained the identification of the unit owner in violation of the confidentiality provisions of  Roberts Rules of Order; the CO admitted that he had no knowledge or proof that the errors in the ballots affected the results of the election; that the CA's rules stated that proxies could not be used at the election of the board or for other matters to be decided at the election meeting; the CA's rules gave additional votes to owners of larger units, which is why those units had to be identified in the ballots so that they could be counted properly.

The hearing panel first held that Section 11-122 of the Maryland Condominium Act did not preempt Chapter 10B of the County Code, because 11-122 only dealt with zoning and building laws, not with local laws regulating voting procedures.

The panel next held that under the bylaws, Roberts Rules of Order applied to meeting of the membership but did not apply to election meetings because such meetings were already governed in detail by the CA's bylaws; and the bylaws dealing with elections do not refer to Roberts.

The panel held that Chapter 10B of the County Code was consistent with Section 11-109(c) of the Condominium Act, and both prohibit the use of non-directed proxy ballots [ballots in which the voter does not designate the name of the proxy holder].  The absentee/proxy ballot used here did comply with the laws and was a proper directed proxy.  Although the envelopes used for the ballots did not comply with Section 10B-17 of the County Code in that they did not state the voter's name, or the unit for which he was voting, CO did not show that the failure to use proper envelopes affected the outcome of the votes.

On the issue of whether some voters are treated differently than others because the larger units are specifically identified on their ballots, the Panel noted that there is no law or bylaw requiring that the proxies be secret; and since none of the unit owners affected by the rule had complained, the panel concluded that it was not appropriate for the panel to rule on the issue; it recommended that the CO take up the issue with the CA directly.

The panel refused to approve any proposed proxy forms.  It held that reference in Section 10B-17 of the County Code to "approving authority" meant the CA and not the Commission.

The panel held that the 1993 elections were valid and binding.  It did recommend that the CA change the format of its proxy ballots and of the envelopes used to return the ballots.

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