Use of Proxies: An ASTM Update
by Pat Piccariello
Theres been a change in the proxy form for casting votes in ASTM
standards activities. Pat Picariello explains the rationale for
the change and how to use the new proxy form.
A basic tenet of the ASTM process is the opportunity for all interested
parties to participate in the standards development activity of
their choice. Active participation in the standards development
process can take place in many ways authoring a revision to a
standard, participating on a task group via e-mail or telephone,
voting on a letter ballot, or participating in discussions and
voting on actions at a meeting. Common to all of these modes is
that they do not require your presence at a meeting of the committee.
At this point, you may be thinking, Wow, Im less than 100 words
into this piece and Im already confused. How can I vote at a
meeting if I cant be there? The answer to this question is simple
(and doesnt involve any specialized metaphysical power on your
part). This type of participation is possible through the use
of the proxy.
What Is a Proxy?
A proxy is defined as written authorization given by one person
to another so that the second person can act on behalf of the
first. In the specific context of an ASTM meeting, proxies allow
voting members of committees or subcommittees to assign their
votes to others, should they be unable to attend the meeting.
Consequently, voting participation is ensured even if actual attendance
Why Does ASTM Allow Proxies?
The conduct of business that applies to an ASTM meeting is governed
by the bylaws of the committee in question, the Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees, and Roberts Rules of Order. Embedded in the basic principles of Roberts Rules is the opportunity
for proxies to be assigned. Additionally, as participation is
crucial to the due process environment that is the hallmark of
the ASTM consensus process, every opportunity available will be
employed to help guarantee this participation. ASTM is aware that
the current business climate is quite demanding and actual attendance
at every committee meeting is not always possible. In situations
such as these, the opportunity to vote via proxy is intended as
a convenience to the ASTM membership. It is not intended to facilitate
the solicitation of absentee votes to support a particular position.
Consequently, the rules governing the assignment and execution
of proxies are essential for the proper utilization of this process.
Clarification of ASTMs Proxy Language
ASTMs guidance on the use of proxies is found in Section 9.5
of the Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees. At the March 2000 meeting of ASTMs Committee on Technical Committee
Operations (COTCO), a revision to Section 9.5 was announced. Initiated
at the direction of ASTM legal counsel, this revision clarifies
the original intent of the existing section and is to be immediately
implemented by all ASTM technical committees. This revision was
further supported by the ASTM Board of Directors at the April
2000 meeting and the complete text of the new section appears
in the sidebar below for your information.
What About the Proxy Form?
A companion item to the change in the Regulations is a newly standardized
proxy form. Please note that this form is to replace all existing proxy
forms and is to be used in all cases that require the issuance
of a proxy. Failure to use this specific form when assigning a
proxy will invalidate the proxy and prevent the vote from being
counted. The form offers several unique features that will aid
absentee members in the assignment of their votes. The most significant
of these is the ability to specify the exact direction that the
holder of the proxy must follow when casting the absentee members
vote. In the Specific Issue/Matter section, voting members may
indicate precise instructions regarding how their votes are to
be cast. If it is the wish of the person assigning the proxy that
his/her vote be used in favor of a not persuasive motion on the
third negative vote cast on Item 17 of the (00-01) main committee
letter ballot, that wish must be carried out. Failure to specifically
adhere to the direction provided by the assignor of the proxy
will render the proxy vote invalid.
Delivery and Quantity of the Proxy Form
Section 9.5 of the Regulations specifies that the original of
the signed and duly executed proxy form be submitted prior to
the applicable meeting or action. Consequently, only a proxy form
bearing an original signature will be valid. Fax, photocopy, or
e-mail copies of the proxy form are unacceptable and will be considered
Additionally, a separate proxy form must be completed for each
individual meeting during which the proxy vote is to be cast.
Therefore, if you are a voting member of a main committee and
five separate subcommittees and you wish to assign a proxy for
each meeting, six individual proxy forms must be signed, duly
executed, and presented to the respective chairman of each committee
or subcommittee prior to the applicable meeting or action. Failure
to comply with this requirement will invalidate the proxy.
Why the Clarification of the Proxy Requirements?
In addition to being an integral piece of the participation element
of due process, a proxy is also a binding legal document. As such,
its assignment and delivery must be protected against any potential
for misuse. While many of ASTMs technical committees have historically
followed the spirit of the Regulations in their application of
the proxy process, the issue is far too significant to offer any
room for misuse. The addition of language clarification in Section
9.5 and the issuance of the new proxy form will further strengthen
this process and offer greater protection for those who most rely
upon its integrity
the ASTM member. //
Copyright 2000, ASTM