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Over the past several years, the number of directors and companies receiving significant levels of "withhold" votes has steadily increased, a trend which is expected to continue. Previously regarded as "symbolic" primarily at companies utilizing the plurality election standard, the 2010 change to NYSE rule 452 (eliminating discretionary broker voting in uncontested director elections), combined with ongoing pressure for companies to switch to the majority election standard, gives withhold votes real power.
We help our clients identify in advance the likely causes of withhold votes and related proxy advisor recommendations, anticipate their impact, and if they choose, help them eliminate the underlying factor or minimize its likely impact.
It is critical that companies identify and eliminate as many reasons for director withhold votes as possible, as these in the future may increasingly impact "who" is elected, and not just "by how much".