Board Talk: Should We Allow Proxy Voting?
Blog post by Janetta Cravens, Vice President of Programs
Proxy voting is when a member of a decision-making body delegates his or her voting power to a representative to enable a vote in absentee. While this is not the most highly-recommended form of voting, proxy voting has no parameters, according to Oklahoma law. There are, however, bylaws that determine the number of directors, what constitutes as quorum and the method of voting.
Usually proxy voting works best as a large legislative process when a body or entity sends a large assembly to cast their vote as a whole. Examples of this are large faith-based institutions, state or national political party assemblies, etc. If a member cannot attend a meeting, the organization can call upon someone else to vote on their behalf, which is used as absentee voting.
This is not regarded as the best practice of standard nonprofits because the member who utilizes this form of voting would miss the meetings that include discussions around the topic, which could sway their decision. For this reason, many people in the industry do not advise proxy voting.
While it is not illegal and can be, in some ways, beneficial, proxy voting can be avoided. Organizations can suggest to their members to attend the meetings via Skype, teleconference or webinar. This can be presented in the bylaws of the organization to reflect this option. The secretary would have to monitor the minutes, and record who was present in person and who was present in a virtual capacity. This way, all the members of the organization can take part in the discussion and make the most educated decision going into voting.