Voting Procedures

There is no one procedure that is right for all types of groups or organizations. If your group is small, a voice vote or a show of hands might be appropriate. However, these procedures can be problematic for larger groups, which may use a rising vote. If there may be closeness on a vote that might lead to a question of its accuracy, then additional safeguards like a rising vote or roll call need to be implemented.

How It Works

The chair chooses the way that the group will vote, whether by voice, hand, or rising vote, but any member may make a motion regarding how a vote will be taken. The member should say, “I move that the vote on this motion be taken by a show of hands” or “I move that the vote on this motion be taken by members rising and being counted” or “I move that the vote on this motion be taken by roll call.” This motion needs to have a second, it can't be debated, and it requires a majority vote.


A member should not vote on any motion in which she has a personal or financial interest and there is no such benefit to other members. A member can vote on a motion if it contains her name as well as the names of other members.

If the vote is to be taken by voice vote or a show of hands, the chair should first explain to the members what the effects of an “aye” and a “no” vote are. The chair must stand so that he can fully see the membership and make certain that a quorum exists: Otherwise, taking a vote is unnecessary (because it would be invalid). Next, the chair should call for the affirmative vote, then the negative vote. Then the chair should announce the result of the vote and tell the membership whether the motion has passed or been defeated.

Remember General Consent

Don't forget that general consent (also sometimes called universal consent) is a great shortcut that can save a lot of time and effort in voting. There must be general agreement among group members. General consent can be used for every aspect of voting during your meetings, from approving minutes to approving payment of bills to elections of officers and committee members.

Just because members go along with general consent doesn't mean that they are in complete agreement, just that they choose not to object — they may have decided to choose their battles and save objections for the issues that matter more to them. If there are members who don't want to go along with general consent, all they have to do is object and then the item in question will be put to a vote.

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