At the last General Membership meeting of our 501(c)(3) corporation, the President arrived with 18 "surprise" general proxy documents signed by members. The document itself was created solely by the President, with no knowledge or input from any Board Member.
When a vote was for a particular position was tight, the President whipped out his 18 proxy votes to support his preferred candidate. Our bylaws are silent on the issue of proxy votes. Roberts Rules of Order leave all rules relating to proxy voting up to the association by-laws. Wikipedia says proxy voting is not recommended for ordinary use. The President cites our state nonprofit corporation law which says a member may vote in person or by proxy, unless the articles of incorporation or the bylaws otherwise provide.
We need to know if these 18 proxies are valid. If we amend our bylaws to prohibit the future use of proxies, would we be in violation of our state law?
Sounds like your President has put one over on you. The members’ right to vote by proxy is spelled out by state law. Some, such as the one the President cited, give authority unless negated in the articles or bylaws. Some, such as Pennsylvania, allow the proxy only if specifically authorized.
Every membership corporation ought to check the applicable state law (rather than Wikipedia or Roberts Rules), decide whether it wants to permit proxies from members, and make clear in its bylaws whether members have the right to vote by proxy or not. (See Ready Reference Page: “Bylaws Function as 'Constitution' of Nonprofit Corporations.”) If your President quoted your law correctly, the recent votes are valid (assuming they met any technical requirements for signatures, etc.) but you can change the rules for future meetings.
Proxy voting clearly changes the nature of an organization. If proxy voting is allowed, it makes no difference whether someone announces the fact or brings in stealth ballots. No one ever said that elections in nonprofit corporations had to be genteel.