Proxy season is often a showcase of the haves and have nots in the governance realm, with cards stacked mostly in corporations’ favor. Meet the universal proxy ballot, an idea that would level the proxy playing field.
In 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a rule that would mandate the universal proxy ballot. The Council of Institutional Investors, a nonprofit comprised of asset managers, pension funds and other investors with $40 trillion in assets under management, supports the creation of a universal proxy voting ballot that lists “all duly nominated board candidates, allowing shareowners vote for the precise combination of nominees they wish to represent them.”
While the SEC has shelved its 2016 proposal, the cause is gaining traction. In 2018, SandRidge Energy became the first company to use a universal proxy ballot. Although it’s currently a fledgling idea, watch for this cause to gain momentum.