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Proxy voting is a form of voting whereby some members of a decision-making body may delegate their voting power to other members of the same body to vote in their absence, and/or to select additional representatives. A person so designated is called a "proxy" and the person designating him or her is called a "principal". Proxy appointments can be used to form a voting bloc that can exercise greater influence in deliberations or negotiations. Proxy voting is a particularly important practice with respect to corporations; in the United States, investment advisers often vote proxies on behalf of their client accounts.
The United States parliamentary manual Riddick's Rules of Procedure notes that, under proxy voting, voting for officers should be done by ballot, due to the difficulties involved in authentication if a member simply calls out, "I cast 17 votes for Mr. X."
The rules of some assemblies presently forbid proxy voting. For example, in both houses of the U.S. Congress, as well as in most if not all state legislatures, each member must be present and cast his own vote for that vote to be counted. This can result, however, in the absence of a quorum and the need to compel attendance by a sufficient number of missing members to get a quorum. Seecall of the house.
It is possible for automatic proxy voting to be used in legislatures (this idea is essentially a form of Weighted voting). For example, it has been proposed that instead of electing members from single-member districts (that may have been gerrymandered), members be elected at large, but when seated each member cast the number of votes he or she received in the last election. Thus, if, for example, a state were allocated 32 members in the U.S. House of Representatives, the 32 candidates who received the most votes in the at-large election would be seated, but each would cast a different number of votes on the floor and in committee. This proposal would allow for representation of minority views in legislative deliberations, as it does in deliberations at shareholder meetings of corporations. Such a concept was proposed in a submission to the 2007 Ontario Citizens' Assembly process(). Two real-life examples of weighted voting include the Council of Ministers of the European Union and the US Electoral College ().
The Parliament of New Zealand allows proxy voting. Sections 155-156 of the Standing Orders of the New Zealand House of Representatives specify the procedures for doing so. A member can designate another member or a party to cast his vote. However, a party may not exercise proxies for more than 25% of its members (rounded upwards). The New Zealand Listener notes a controversial occurrence of proxy voting. The Labour Party was allowed to cast votes on behalf of Taito Phillip Field, who was frequently absent. Theoretically, this was to be allowed only if a legislator was absent on parliamentary business, public business or pressing private business, such as illness or bereavement.
Until the Republican reforms of 1995 banished the practice, proxy voting was also used in U.S. House of Representativescommittees. Often members would delegate their vote to the ranking member of their party in the committee. Republicans opposed proxy voting on the grounds that it allowed an indolent Democratic majority to move legislation through committee with antimajoritarian procedures. That is, the Democratic leader in the committee would successfully oppose the sitting Republican majority by wielding the proxies of absent Democrats.
Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein write, "In a large and fragmented institution in which every member has five or six places to be at any given moment, proxy voting is a necessary evil".
Proxy voting is sometimes described as "the frequency with which spouses, union workers, and friends of friends are in effect sent off to the polls with an assignment to complete." The potential for proxy voting exists in roughly one voter out of five, and it is about twice as high at the middle levels of the sophistication continuum. According to W. Russell Neuman, the net effect of the cues provided by friends and associates is not likely to be as significant as those of the political parties.
The possibility of expanded use of proxy voting has been the subject of much speculation. Terry F. Buss et al. write that internet voting would result in de facto approval of proxy voting, since passwords could be shared with others: "Obviously, cost-benefit calculations around the act of voting could also change substantially as organizations attempt to identify and provide inducements to control proxy votes without violating vote-buying prohibitions in the law."
One of the criticisms of proxy voting is that it carries a risk of fraud or intimidation. Another criticism is that it violates the concept of a secret ballot, in that paperwork may be filed, for instance, designating a party worker as one's proxy.
It has been proposed that proxy voting be combined with initiative and referendum to form a hybrid of direct democracy and representative democracy.  [unreliable source?]James C. Miller III, Ronald Reagan's budget director, suggested scrapping representative democracy and instead implementing a "program for direct and proxy voting in the legislative process." It has been suggested by Joseph Francis Zimmerman that proxy voting be allowed in New England town meetings.
According to Arch Puddington et al., in Albanian Muslim areas, many women have been effectively disenfranchised through proxy voting by male relatives.
In Canada, the province of Nova Scotia allows citizens to vote by proxy if they expect to be absent. The Territories of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut also allow for proxy voting. Canadian prisoners of war in enemy camps were allowed to vote through proxy voting. David Stewart and Keith Archer opine that proxy voting can result in leadership selection processes to become leader-dominated. Proxy voting had only been available to military personnel since World War II, but was extended in 1970 and 1977 to include voters in special circumstances such as northern camp operators, fishermen, and prospectors. The Alberta Liberal Party ran into some difficulties, in that an unknown number of proxy ballots that were counted may have been invalid. Those who, through proxy voting or assistance of invalids, become knowledgeable of the principal's choice are bound to secrecy.
Some Chinese provinces allow village residents to designate someone to vote on their behalf. Lily L. Tsai notes that "In practice, one family member often casts votes for everyone in the family even if they are present for the election. In 1997, a Carter Center delegation recommended abolishing the proxy voting that allowed one person to vote for three; the International Republican Institute had made a similar recommendation. Proxy voting also became an issue in relation to many of the Wenzhou people doing business outside.[clarification needed] Most election disputes revolved around proxy votes, including the issues of who could represent them to vote and what kinds of evidence were acceptable for proxy voting. Intense competition made the proxy voting process more and more formal and transparent. Some villages required a notary to validate faxed proxy votes; some villages asked for faxed signatures; more often villages publicized those proxy votes so that villagers could directly monitor them. Taicang government reported a 99.4% voter turnout in its 1997 election, but a study showed that after removing proxy votes, only 48% of the eligible voters in the sample reported that they actually went to the central polling station to vote.
According to Mim Kelber, "in Central Africa, all it takes for a man to cast a proxy vote for his wife is to produce an unwitnessed letter mentioning the name of the person to whom the voting power is delegated." The Gabon respondent to an Inter-Parliamentary Union letter commented, "It has been observed that this possibility was exploited to a far greater extent by men than by women, for reasons not always noble."
Proxy voting played an important role in Guyana politics in the 1960s. Prior to and during the 1961 elections, proxies had been severely restricted. Some restrictions were lifted, and there was a rise in proxy votes cast from 300 in 1961 to 6,635 in 1964. After that election, the Commonwealth Team of Observers voiced concern about proxy votes being liable to fraud. The proxy voting rules were relaxed further, and in 1969, official figures recorded 19,287 votes cast by proxy, about 7% of the total votes cast (an increase from 2.5% in 1964 to 1968). Amidst allegations of fraud, more restrictions were placed on proxy voting in 1973; in that year, about 10,000 votes were cast by proxy.
Main article: Absentee voting in India
In Iraq, the Electoral Laws of 1924 and 1946 ruled out the possibility of proxy voting, except for illiterates, who could appoint someone to write for them.
Some instances of proxy voting (usually by family members) in the Russian parliamentary elections of 1995 were noted by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The provision for proxy voting in the UK dates back to James I. Long before women's suffrage, women sometimes voted as proxies for absent male family heads.
Under British electoral law, ballot papers could not be sent overseas. British expatriates had no right to vote until the mid-1980s. They can now vote by proxy in general elections if they have been on a British electoral register at some point in the past 15 years. They can also vote by post.
In the United Kingdom, electors may appoint a proxy. An elector can only act as a proxy for two people to whom they are not directly related. However, they can be a proxy for any number of electors if they are directly related to those electors. The voter can change his mind and vote in the election personally as long as his proxy has not already voted on his behalf or applied to vote by mail.
Voters must provide a reason for using a proxy, such as being away on vacation. A narrower subset of reasons is permissible if the proxy is to be for more than one election. Except in cases of blindness, the validity of all proxies must be certified by someone such as an employer or doctor.
In 2004, two Liberal Democrat councillors were found guilty of submitting 55 fraudulent proxy votes and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.
In 1635-36, Massachusetts granted to the frontier towns "liberty to stay soe many of their freemen at home for the safety of their towne as they judge needful, and that the said freemen that are appoyncted by the towne to stay at home shall have liberty for this court to send their voices by proxy." According to Charles Seymour and Donald Paige Frary, had not proxy voting been implemented, the inhabitants of the frontier towns would have lost their franchises, and the government would have represented only the freemen in the vicinity of Boston. The roads were poor; the drawing of all a village's men at once would have exposed it to Indian attacks; and at election time, the emigrants' labor was needed to get the spring planting into the ground. As late as 1680, and probably even after the charter was revoked in 1684, the Freeman might give his vote for Magistrates in person or proxy at the Court of Elections.
Proxy voting was also adopted in colonies adjacent to Massachusetts. Indeed, traces of the practice of proxy voting remained in Connecticut's election laws until the final supersedure of her charter in 1819.
In Maryland, the primary assemblies allowed proxy voting. After the assembly of 1638, protests were sent to the proprietor in England. It was said that the Governor and his friends were able to exercise too much influence through the proxies they had obtained.
Proxy voting was also used in South Carolina; the proprietors in September 1683 complained to the governor about this system. Proxy voting was used in Long Island, New York as well, at that time. Phraseology was sometimes designed to hide the fact that a proxy system was in use and that the majority of voters did not actually attend the elections. In Rhode Island, the system described as a "proxy" system, from 1664 onward, was actually simply the sending of written ballots from voters who did not attend the election, rather than a true proxy system, as in the assembly of 1647. 
In Alabama, the Perry County Civic League's members' assisting illiterate voters by marking a ballot on their behalf was deemed "proxy voting" and "voting more than once" and thus held to be illegal.
During the American Civil War, some northern soldiers used proxy voting. After Ira Eastman's near-victory in New Hampshire, Republicans supported a bill to allow soldiers to vote by proxy, but it was ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme court.
In the Progressive Era, proxy voting was used in Republican Party state conventions in New Hampshire. The Boston and Maine Railroad, the Republican Party's ally, maintained control over the Party by means of these conventions. "At the 1906 state convention, for instance, party delegates were quite willing to trade, sell, or exchange their voting power in return for various forms of remuneration from the party machine. Public outcry led to the end of such 'proxy' voting".
Proxy voting was used in some American U.S. Presidential nominating caucuses. In one case, Eugene McCarthy supporters were in the majority of those present but were outvoted when the presiding party official cast 492 proxy votes – three times the number present – for his own slate of delegates. After the nomination of Hubert Humphrey, the New Politics movement charged that Humphrey and party bosses had circumvented the will of Democratic Party members by manipulating the rules to Humphrey's advantage. In response, the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection, also known as the McGovern-Fraser Commission, was created to rework the rules in time for the 1972 Democratic National Convention. State parties were required to ban proxy voting in order to have their delegates seated at the national convention. It was said that these rules had been used in "highly selective" ways.
Several attempts have been made to place proxy voting-related initiatives on the California ballot, but all have failed.
United States law on proxies
|This section needs attention from an expert in Law. (October 2008)|
In Vietnam, proxy voting was used to increase turnout. Presently, proxy voting is illegal, but it has nonetheless been occurring since before 1989. It is estimated to contribute about 20% to voter turnout, and has been described as "a convenient way to fulfil one's duty, avoid possible risks, and avoid having to participate directly in the act of voting". It is essentially a compromise between the party-state, which wants to have high turnouts as proof of public support, and voters who do not want to go to the polling stations. In the Soviet Union, proxy voting was also illegal but done in order to increase turnout figures.
Nonprofit organization settings
Proxy voting is automatically prohibited in organizations that have adopted Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) or The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure(TSC) as their parliamentary authority, unless it is provided for in its bylaws or charter or required by the laws of its state of incorporation. Robert's Rules says, "If the law under which an organization is incorporated allows proxy voting to be prohibited by a provision of the bylaws, the adoption of this book as parliamentary authority by prescription in the bylaws should be treated as sufficient provision to accomplish that result". Demeter says the same thing, but also states that "if these laws do not prohibit voting by proxy, the body can pass a law permitting proxy voting for any purpose desired." RONR opines, "Ordinarily it should neither be allowed nor required, because proxy voting is incompatible with the essential characteristics of a deliberative assembly in which membership is individual, personal, and nontransferable. In a stock corporation, on the other hand, where the ownership is transferable, the voice and vote of the member also is transferable, by use of a proxy." While Riddick opines that "proxy voting properly belongs in incorporate organizations that deal with stocks or real estate, and in certain political organizations," it also states, "If a state empowers an incorporated organization to use proxy voting, that right cannot be denied in the bylaws." Riddick further opines, "Proxy voting is not recommended for ordinary use. It can discourage attendance, and transfers an inalienable right to another without positive assurance that the vote has not been manipulated."
Parliamentary Law expounds on this point:
|“||It is used only in stock corporations where the control is in the majority of the stock, not in the majority of the stockholders. If one person gets control of fifty-one per cent of the stock he can control the corporation, electing such directors as he pleases in defiance of the hundreds or thousands of holders of the remaining stock. The laws for stock corporations are nearly always made on the theory that the object of the organization is to make money by carrying on a certain business, using capital supplied by a large number of persons whose control of the business should be in proportion to the capital they have put into the concern. The people who have furnished the majority of the capital should control the organization, and yet they may live in different parts of the country, or be traveling at the time of the annual meeting. By the system of proxy voting they can control the election of directors without attending the meetings.||”|