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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is working to propose new rules to simplify the voting process for contested corporate board elections by permitting the use of so-called universal proxy ballots, SEC Chair Mary Jo White said on Thursday.
In remarks prepared for a speech in Chicago, White said she has directed staff to draft recommendations for new rules amid concerns that shareholders do not have a “sufficient range of choice” when voting in contested company elections.
Currently, only shareholders who physically attend annual meetings are allowed to split their ticket in contested elections and vote for a mix of candidates nominated by company management and by large shareholders.
If they vote by proxy, they can generally only support one slate – management’s or the one nominated by shareholders.
Shareholder advocates, as well as SEC Democratic Commissioner Kara Stein, have previously raised concerns about how this approach could limit shareholders and have called for rules to permit universal ballots so shareholders have more free choice.
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