Is postal voting compliant with the model rules?

Borthwick Chris Jul2019lg

In this help sheet series, Our Community’s resident agony uncle, Chris Borthwick, offers answers to frequently asked questions about issues not-for-profits are facing.

Dear Agony Uncle,

Thank you for your past advice regarding our planned online AGM.

Our organisation has around 300 members and we’re wanting to establish whether postal voting is compliant with the model rules.

There would be the election of four executive positions and six general committee members. We have devised an easy postal voting system where only the returning officer will have access to both the member’s name and the ballot contents as the sealed envelope is opened for the count.

If postal voting is compliant, we’re hoping you may be able to provide some insight for us:

1. Must eligible voting members nominate a proxy when returning their completed ballot paper?

2. If eligible voting members don’t have to appoint a proxy and they return a completed ballot but do not sign into the meeting, is their vote still counted?

Agony Uncle's answer

The basic rules for AGMs during a pandemic are that if you're acting in good faith you can do whatever seems best.

Yes, postal voting would be fine – or, rather, postal and meetings, because you'll have to allow both.

Your constitution, if it is based on the model rules, says that voting procedures are set by the chair, from show of hands up.

You've sent out ballots, and people could alternatively send in proxies for their nominee to vote their ticket – one or the other, not both.

If someone sends in a ballot but doesn't turn up at the meeting, that's the definition of postal voting.

But – you have to make sure that all the people at the meeting, in person or virtual, are members. You can't let people in without identification.

Best wishes,
Agony Uncle.

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