Voting methods for 4-H clubs, councils and boards

Mixing up voting methods for 4-H clubs will keep meetings interactive and engaging.

Teens involved in the Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development program are often introduced to their first formal business meeting through participation in their local 4-H clubs and advisory boards. As youth develop leadership skills and take on the roles and responsibilities of officers and managing the meetings, make sure youth have all the tools necessary to make them successful. One important tool often overlooked as a strategy to keep meetings more interactive is using different methods of voting.

During most business meetings, the president will receive a motion then ask for a second and move the group into discussion. After a motion has been discussed, the president will ask for a vote. Traditionally, the president will ask for a verbal vote, also known as acclamation. The president will repeat the motion by saying the motion has been properly moved and seconded, and all in favor of the motion will signify by saying “aye” and those opposed say “nay.” This is one form of voting, but there are several different methods and presidents should mix it up in order to keep meetings interactive and engaging.

The following are additional voting methods a president may choose to use to conduct business at their meetings:

  • Show of hands. The president asks members to vote by raising their hand in agreement or in opposition.
  • Standing vote. All members in agreement stand. The president has them sit down after counting the members and then asks members in opposition to stand.
  • Secret ballot. The vote is written on a slip of paper, collected and tallied by individuals identified to count the vote. This is a form of voting that the MSU Extension Leadership and Civic Engagement Team encourages 4-H clubs and boards to utilize when electing officer positions.
  • Roll call. Members verbally respond one at a time to announce their desire in agreeing or disagreeing with the proposed motion.

Mixing up the different styles of voting can be a very useful tool in making meetings interactive and engaging. For more information on parliamentary motions, see the MSU Extension article “Five simple steps to making a parliamentary motion.”

MSU Extension’s Leadership Civic Engagement Team offers trainings around the basics of parliamentary procedure, running affective meetings and tools youth need to be successful in running a meeting. For further information, contact

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