Majority Vote

The majority rules in any democratic group or organization. So it follows that a majority vote is required to approve actions or choices by the membership of a group or organization. A majority is more than half, so a majority vote is more than half of the members present who are legally entitled to vote. As stated previously, a quorum is the number of members who must be in attendance to conduct business. This number is usually dictated by the bylaws of your group or organization.

Computing the Majority Vote

It's simple to compute a majority vote. A majority is one more than half of the quorum needed to conduct business. For example, if the quorum needed is fifty members, a majority vote must be twenty-six. Abstentions (a member feels there is a reason to refrain from voting) and blank ballots don't count. The members who vote (which doesn't always mean the number of members present) determine the majority.

Tie Votes

Whoops! It's a tie! The membership is evenly divided and there has not been a majority vote. If the chair hasn't voted, now's the time to break the tie — remembering that he can't vote once as a member and again as a presiding officer. He gets only one vote, just like any other member. If the vote was taken by ballot, however, the chair has already voted and can't vote again to break the tie. A tie vote fails. Another vote should be taken.

Majority Modifications

A group or organization may decide that it wants to modify its requirement for a majority vote to say “a majority of those present” or “a majority of the entire membership.” The latter term may mean more than half of those present are required to vote. Here is an example using the formula of a group that has a quorum requirement of fifty. If the group's membership consists of seventy-five individuals and you specified a requirement of “a majority of the entire membership,” the number of votes required to pass would be thirty-eight, not twenty-six, which constitutes a simple majority. It might be harder to achieve thirty-eight votes for approval than twenty-six votes.

ALERT!

Make certain that anytime a “majority vote” is mentioned it's clear whether majority means a majority of those present or a majority of the entire membership. The two terms are very different things.

Your group can make modifications in the voting requirements in its bylaws. Its members can also use a motion to change the voting requirements on a onetime basis at a meeting. Since this action takes away the rights of members, it's necessary to have given previous notice. There must have been an announcement made that there would be a change in the voting procedure at the next meeting.

It's also possible for your group to write the bylaws to require a three-fourths vote if it wishes. Sometimes members prefer that certain types of business or elections be subject to a three-fourths vote. However, most groups and organizations find the simple majority vote to be the best option for them.

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