Electronic voting and proxy votes

I love getting questions from readers.  Helps me to know what problems you’re facing. AND gives me something to poke around more about.  Here’s a question I got today:

I was looking for an example on how one includes in bylaws a ‘vote by proxy’ or ‘voting by email outside of meetings.’ Is it OK for boards to vote by e-mail on issues that can’t wait until the next meeting? How would that be included in bylaws?

Proxy and electronic voting are different things.

In voting by proxy one board member gives a written document awarding the first person’s vote to the second. The first person trusts that the second will vote as he wishes. The problem is that the director voting by proxy doesn’t get to hear or participate in the conversation around the idea being voted on. He may not even know the full wording of a motion. Directors have fiduciary responsibility for the organization. Proxy voting might just yield an unwanted outcome for the director personally.

There are laws in many states covering voting by electronic means, by email or other online process. Check with Attorney General’s office in the home state of your corporation. Some states say electronic voting must be unanimous in order to carry.

If it’s illegal in your state, you should mention that in the bylaws to keep other people from thinking they can do it when it’s not specifically disallowed.

It is likely that electronic voting requirements are different for board votes and membership votes. You should ask the AG about that. Or in any case, check with your group’s lawyer or accountant who manages these documents.

If it’s not illegal in your state then you should include in your bylaws under what circumstances electronic voting is allowed and what percentage is required to carry the motion. It might be a higher percentage that would normally carry.

Here’s a great resource from Pennsylvania Association of NonProfit Oranizations on proxy voting in  nonprofits.

Good luck to all!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *