The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that it will host a roundtable on February 19 on ways to improve the proxy voting process, with a focus on universal proxy ballots and retail (non-institutional) shareholder participation in the proxy process. The roundtable will consist of the following two panels:

  • The first panel will examine (1) contested director elections and whether the proxy rules should be changed to facilitate the use of universal proxy ballots, and (2) state law, logistical and disclosure issues presented by a universal proxy ballot process. A universal proxy ballot would allow management and proxy contestants to list all director nominees, including opposing candidates, on a single ballot in a proxy contest, which proponents argue would provide shareholders with more freedom in electing directors.
  • The second panel will focus on (1) strategies for increasing retail shareholder participation in the proxy process, (2) how technology could be better implemented to increase retail participation, and (3) whether the format of proxy statement disclosures and the mechanics of voting could be improved to increase shareholder engagement.

The roundtable, which will be held at the SEC’s Washington, DC headquarters, will be open to the public and webcast live on the SEC’s website.

The SEC’s press release can be read here.