How to Initiate a Proxy Vote

  • By: Josh Palmer
  • June 3, 2024
proxy vote
Reading Time: 3 minutes

How to Initiate a Proxy Vote

The process of initiating a proxy vote is contingent upon the governing documents of the organization in question. Documents such as the articles of association or bylaws establish the framework for conducting proxy votes. 

The steps involved may vary from one organization to another to reflect the unique governance structure and requirements of each entity.

A successful proxy vote involves the following steps:

1. Review Governing Documents

Before initiating a proxy vote, board members must review the organization’s governing documents thoroughly. These documents outline the procedures and protocols governing proxy voting to ensure transparency and fairness in the decision-making process. 

For example, if the organization’s articles of association stipulate specific requirements for proxy nominations and voting procedures, board members must adhere to these guidelines when conducting a proxy vote.

Also, if the company’s bylaws outline the roles of proxies and shareholders in the voting process, a classified board responsible for promoting good governance must inspect these provisions to facilitate a legally compliant proxy vote. 

2. Draft and Distribute Proxy Materials

Once the governing documents have been reviewed, the next step is to draft and distribute proxy materials to shareholders. Proxy materials typically include a proxy statement and a representative ballot.

An annual report can serve as an additional proxy document. This is particularly relevant when the information contained within is related to the issues to be voted on at the shareholder meeting. To illustrate, if the report includes details on executive compensation or proposed mergers, shareholders may use it as supplementary material for making informed voting decisions.

Shareholders receive these materials along with appropriate information regarding the upcoming board meeting. Clear and comprehensive proxy materials are essential for ensuring shareholders are adequately informed and empowered to participate in the voting process effectively.

3. Designate Proxy

After proxy materials have been distributed, shareholders designate a proxy to represent their interests and cast plurality votes in an election. When choosing a proxy, boards base their decision on several factors, including expertise and alignment with the organization’s interests.

Proxies must demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the company’s operations and strategic objectives to ensure votes are cast in line with shareholder interests. Proxies with a track record of ethical conduct and fiduciary responsibility are often favored by boards to safeguard shareholder interests.

The designated proxy may be an individual shareholder, a member of the board of directors, or a professional proxy solicitor. A reliable and trustworthy proxy will faithfully execute the shareholder’s voting instructions. Designating such a proxy ensures each stakeholder’s voice is heard, even if they are unable to attend the meeting in-person.

4. Record Proxy Votes

Upon being cast, proxy votes must be accurately recorded and tallied. The tabulator, typically appointed by the organization, is responsible for recording and tabulating proxy votes. 

Transparency and accuracy are paramount during this stage to uphold the integrity of the proxy voting process. Recording proxy votes correctly ensures each shareholder’s voice is accurately represented in the final tally.

5. Announce the Results

Following the tabulation of proxy votes, the results are announced to board members. Shareholders, board members, and other relevant parties are informed of the outcome, whether a unanimous vote or not, and any decisions made during the shareholder meeting. Announcing the results promptly and transparently promotes trust and accountability among shareholders and stakeholders.

How OnBoard Powers Effective Boards

In facilitating effective board governance, OnBoard emerges as a leading solution for streamlined board meeting management. The software simplifies proxy voting processes to ensure transparency, communication, and collaboration among board members and shareholders. 

Portal features board members find particularly valuable include:

  • Secure document sharing: Ensures confidential board materials are safely shared among stakeholders. Thanks to encrypted document storage and multi-factor authentication, board members can access sensitive documents with peace of mind.
  • Real-time collaboration tools: Facilitates real-time collaboration among board members, enabling seamless communication and decision-making. Features such as annotation tools and threaded discussions boost engagement and productive discussions.
  • Electronic voting capabilities: Simplifies the voting process, allowing board members to cast votes remotely with ease. 
  • Task assignment and tracking: Enables administrators to assign tasks to board members and track progress in real-time. This promotes accountability and ensures the timely completion of action items.
  • Meeting minutes management: Streamlines the management of meeting minutes with automated minute-taking tools. Board members can easily review and approve meeting minutes via a unified documentation process.
  • Board member onboarding: Facilitates seamless onboarding for new board members with customizable onboarding workflows and resources. New members are quickly integrated into the board and equipped with the necessary information to contribute effectively.

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About The Author

Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.