This excerpt taken from the TRV DEF 14A filed Mar 17, 2006.
Supporting Statement: Our Company is incorporated in Minnesota. Among other issues, Minnesota corporate law addresses the issue of the level of voting support necessary for a specific action, such as the election of corporate directors. Minnesota law provides that unless a companys articles of incorporation provide otherwise, a plurality of all the votes cast at a meeting at which a quorum is present is sufficient to elect a director. (Minnesota Statutes 2005, 302A.215, Voting for directors; cumulative voting, Subdivision 1. Required vote)
Our Company presently uses the plurality vote standard to elect directors. This proposal requests that the Board initiate a change in the Companys director election vote standard to 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.
We believe that a majority vote standard in director elections would give shareholders a meaningful role in the director election process. Under the Companys current standard, a nominee in a director election can be elected with as little as a single affirmative vote, even if a substantial majority of the votes cast are withheld from that nominee. The majority vote standard would require that a director receive a majority of the vote cast in order to be elected to the Board.
The majority vote proposal received high levels of support last year, winning majority support at Advanced Micro Devices, Freeport McMoRan, Marathon Oil, Marsh and McClennan, Office Depot, Raytheon, and others. Leading proxy advisory firms recommended voting in favor of the proposal.
Some companies have adopted board governance policies requiring director nominees that fail to receive majority support from shareholders to tender their resignations to the board. We believe that these policies are inadequate for they are based on continued use of the plurality standard and would allow director nominees to be elected despite only minimal shareholder support. We contend that changing the legal standard to a majority vote is a superior solution that merits shareholder support.
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 director nominees who fail to receive a majority vote under a majority vote standard and whether a plurality vote standard may be appropriate in director elections when the number of director nominees exceeds the available board seats.
We urge your support for this important director election reform.