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More and more organisations are opting for an online shareholders’ meeting (AGM) or general meeting of members. The most important question we often hear in this case is: how do you ensure a safe and proper digital voting process? This is how it works.

Especially since the corona pandemic, the online General Meeting or AGM is more popular than ever. Where previously a vote took place physically or via the bank, the digital way nowadays is a more logical route. ‘Our customers give us the feedback that they find the meetings to run smoothly,’ says Rico Hoeboer, Business Development Manager at Online Seminar. ‘They are fast and cost-efficient because they don’t have to book a room for all the attendees. Moreover, the votes are secure, something that is a natural high priority.’ It is not without reason that organisations such as publisher Koninklijke Brill, the political party 50PLUS and pharmaceutical company Pharming choose this digital solution.

How does a secure vote work?

Secure voting starts with a verified account. An account that has been verified as belonging to a shareholder or member. ‘Using that account, someone can vote once. No more. This is how we prevent double votes. It is possible to cast a “pre vote” if this is permitted under the articles of association of the organisation. For example, in the case someone cannot be present at the meeting but wants to vote. In such a case, someone already casts a vote prior to the meeting. During the webinar, we can automatically add the pre-votes to the live votes, so you get the full picture immediately.’

Voting rights and voting value

Security is also ensured in other ways. ‘Of course, we can block the meeting to anyone who is not entitled to attend. There are also meetings that are open to the public, but not everyone is entitled to vote. In that case, we can give the non-voting participants the voting value “zero”. So even if they “vote”, their vote has no value.’ Whenever it is preferable for organisations they can also be presented with all the data. For their legal department, for example. In this way, they can carry out an extra check to see whether any irregularities have occurred.

Proportional voting

There are other options that contribute to a fast, clear process. For example, the system can automatically take into account how much value a vote has. ‘This is particularly important for shareholders’ meetings. One shareholder has 500 shares, the other holds one. We can then take these votes into account proportionally.’

Announcing voting results

When the results of a vote have been received, the organisation can choose how to display them. This can be done on a screen, so that it is visible to everyone at the same time. Organisations can also choose to send the results to one person, for example the chairman of the Supervisory Board, who can then read the results aloud.

Re-voting when necessary

If necessary, a re-vote can take place. ‘The other day, at a general members meeting, a question was phrased negatively. The members were confused by this, because it seemed like they had to answer in a ‘yes or no’-fashion. When we receive such a signal from several members, we can quickly have a re-vote. That is what the organisation did in this case.’