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IBM shareholders vote online

The Internet now has another use--as a way for stockholders to vote their proxy.

The Internet now has another use--as a way for stockholders to vote their proxy.

IBM (IBM) today filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission outlining a plan for its stockholders to vote online to elect directors or approve shareholder proposals. The plan, not yet widely publicized, could simplify what has been a tedious task for many stockholders.

IBM is a good barometer of the potential for such a service. Big Blue has been around since 1911, and claims more than 1.2 million stockholders, according to its Web site.

"Thank you for choosing to participate in the program to vote your proxy through the Internet," reads the script of IBM's online voting plan filed with the regulators. "If you choose to vote your shares online, there is no need for you to mail back your proxy card."

The Net increasingly is being used to file paperwork--including tax returns--with the government and with private companies as well. The state of Florida is testing absentee voting via the Net. All are turning to the Net because of its potential to cut distribution costs.

As for the security of online votes?

"To vote online you must use the control number that appears in the box on your proxy card," the script reads. After checking boxes on the form, cybervoters are told: "Success! Your vote has been cast and will be tabulated within 24 hours."

IBM also is offering a program to vote by phone.

Its annual shareholder meeting will be held on April 28 in Chicago.