Shareholders devote time and energy deciding whether to support the resolutions on their proxy ballots. The SEC’s Proxy Matters webpage is devoted to the more technical matter of helping smaller shareholders of U.S. companies locate their ballots by explaining U.S. proxy rules and encouraging investors to vote their shares.
For individual investors, the mechanics of voting U.S. company shares has become more complicated since 2007 when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) introduced “notice and access” for proxy voting. Under notice and access, U.S. companies may send shareholders a one-page notice of an upcoming meeting instead of thick package of documents including the proxy ballot that they were previously required to drop in the mail.
The notice from a company tells the shareholder that they can find documents for an upcoming shareholder meeting online or request that paper documents be sent to them.
The SEC has recently announced amendments to notice and access that will allow companies to include explanatory notes about accessing meeting materials and voting with the notice.
Canada’s securities regulators have not introduced an equivalent to notice and access. Canadian companies are therefore still required to send meeting materials to shareholders.