Voting at Meetings of Incorporated Associations

Being involved in an Incorporated Association can be a meaningful way to connect with your local community. You will be entitled to attend your club’s Annual General Meeting to have your voice heard about the things that matter to you as a member – but what happens if you’re unable to attend the meeting in person?

Can you still exercise your right to vote?

What can I do if I am unable to attend a meeting of my incorporated association?

Rules for voting at the meetings of an association usually stipulate that an eligible member must be ‘present’ or ‘personally present’ in order to cast a valid vote or to form a quorum.[1]

This can present difficulties for members with conflicting commitments at scheduled meeting times. Fortunately, there are options available for concerned members to vote on important matters despite being unable to physically attend the meeting.

Proxies

If you are unable to attend a meeting you may appoint another member as a proxy to vote and speak on your behalf.

As a general rule, such an arrangement must be made in writing and signed by the member making the appointment. Notice of the arrangement must be delivered at least 24 hours prior to the meeting

The member may make specific instructions as to how the proxy is to vote if they so choose. Otherwise, the proxy may vote in any manner they see fit.

These general rules may be modified by the association’s constitution. It is therefore always important to consult this document to ensure compliance with your association’s specific procedures for appointing a proxy.

Can I attend a meeting over the phone?

The requirement that a member be ‘present’ or ‘personally present’ in order to vote a meeting may appear to require physical attendance at the meeting.  However the Incorporated Associations Reform Act 2012 (Vic) provides that attendance can be made remotely.

Section 62 (1) of the Act allows members to take part in general meetings ‘by using technology that allows members to clearly and simultaneously communicate with each other participating member’. Subsection (2) deems that any person using this method is ‘present at the meeting’, and any votes cast by them are taken to have been ‘voted in person’.

Identical provision for the use of technology is made for committee meetings under section 79 of the Act.

Use of teleconference or videoconferences services such skype are therefore permissible to allow members who cannot physically attend to participate in the meetings of associations in Victoria.

[1] Incorporated Association Reform Act 2002 (Vic)