PROXY VOTING – Should a UUAA member be able to appoint someone to vote on their behalf at a congregational meeting they are unable to attend?


The UUAA Board of Trustees and Governance Advisory Team recently discovered that UUAA is not in compliance with Michigan non-profit statutes regarding proxy voting. The Michigan Nonprofit Corporation Act says that proxy voting is allowed unless we have a bylaw that forbids it. UUAA's bylaws do not address proxy voting and yet we have no policies or processes in place to support it. Something needs to change! As a congregation, we need to decide whether we would rather

  • Revise our bylaws to say proxy voting is not supported at congregational meetings under any circumstances (our current practice).


  • Write a new bylaw that supports proxy voting, defining under what circumstances and who should manage proxy registration. We would then need a set of procedures and forms for registering someone as a proxy holder and specifying how to process proxy votes.


Listening Session on Sunday, November 18th

The Board of Trustees and the Governance Advisory Team will facilitate a discussion on proxy voting, Sunday, November 18th from 1:00 - 2:30 pm. All UUAA members are invited to join the discussion and contribute their opinions on this subject.



Some Definitions

PROXY: The written authorization that allows one eligible voting member (the "proxy giver") to appoint another person (the "proxy holder") to vote on their behalf in their absence.

ABSENTEE BALLOT: A ballot submitted (as by mail) in advance of an election by a voter who is unable to be present at the meeting where the vote will take place.

State law does not mandate that we support absentee ballots, but that is a separate possibility worthy of discussion.



Note the definitions above that point out that proxy voting is not the same as absentee voting. The question of whether to provide for absentee voting can be decided later or while we are discussing proxy voting.

The Michigan Nonprofit Act says

  • Proxies need to be signed and submitted to officers of UUAA before the vote.
  • Can be good for at most 3 years.
  • Can be revoked at any time
  • Can be defined to be a proxy applicable only for a specific meeting or a proxy good for all meetings in a given period of time

UU Congregations vary in their support for proxy voting. A web search indicates about half of them support proxy voting, some under very specific situations and others for any congregational vote.