This excerpt taken from the MRO DEF 14A filed Mar 10, 2005.
Director Election Majority Vote Standard Proposal
Resolved: That the shareholders of Marathon Oil Corporation ("Company") hereby request that the Board of Directors initiate the appropriate process to amend the Company's governance documents (certificate of incorporation or bylaws) to provide that director nominees shall be elected by the affirmative vote of the majority of votes cast at an annual meeting of shareholders.
Supporting Statement: Our Company is incorporated in Delaware. Among other issues, Delaware corporate law addresses the issue of the level of voting support necessary for a specific action, such as the election of corporate directors. Delaware law provides that a company's certificate of incorporation or bylaws may specify the number of votes that shall be necessary for the transaction of any business, including the election of directors. (DGCL, Title 8, Chapter 1, Subchapter VII, Section 216). Further, the law provides that if the level of voting support necessary for a specific action is not specified in the certificate of incorporation or bylaws of the corporation, directors "shall be elected by a plurality of the votes of the shares present in person or represented by proxy at the meeting and entitled to vote on the election of directors."
Our Company presently uses the plurality vote standard for the election of directors. We feel that it is appropriate and timely for the Board to initiate a change in the Company's director election vote standard. Specifically, this shareholder proposal urges that the Board of Directors initiate a change to the director election vote standard to provide that in director elections a majority vote standard will be used in lieu of the Company's current plurality vote standard. Specifically, the new standard should provide that nominees for the board of directors must receive a majority of the vote cast in order to be elected or re-elected to the Board.
Under the Company's current plurality vote standard, a director nominee in a director election can be elected or re-elected with as little as a single affirmative vote, even while a substantial majority of the votes cast are "withheld" from that director nominee. So even if 99.99% of the shares "withhold" authority to vote for a candidate or all the candidates, a 0.01% "for" vote results in the candidate's election or re-election to the board. The proposed majority vote standard would require that a director receive a majority of the vote cast in order to be elected to the Board.
It is our contention that the proposed majority vote standard for corporate board elections is a fair standard that will strengthen the Company's governance and the Board. Our proposal is not intended to limit the judgment of the Board in crafting the requested governance change. For instance, the Board should address the status of incumbent directors who fail to receive a majority vote when standing for re-election under a majority vote standard or whether a plurality director election standard is appropriate in contested elections.
We urge your support of this important director election reform.