Voting techniques not recommended for 4-H use

Learn why proxy voting, absentee voting and electronic voting are generally not used in 4-H clubs, boards and committees.

Often questions arise around proper voting techniques and processes. Different situations require different types of voting and some types are not utilized in 4-H clubs, boards and committees. Following is a list of different types of voting that are not normally used in 4-H along with an explanation of why.

Proxy voting

Proxy voting is when you allow someone else to take your vote when you cannot make it to a meeting. Proxy voting should not be used in 4-H clubs, committees or boards. When a person is serving in a leadership role in 4-H, they are often representing a larger group already. It is their responsibility to listen to the discussion, listen to the information brought by other board members from the greater membership, be diligent in finding out the opinions of the greater membership themselves and share it with the board, then make an informed decision on votes once all of this information is heard. Proxy voting diminishes a person’s ability to listen to all of the viewpoints brought to the group before voting. Proxy voting is incompatible with the essential characteristics of a deliberative assembly in which membership is individual, personal and nontransferable.

Absentee voting

Absentee voting is when you are allowed to cast your vote early because you will not be available for the meeting. Absentee voting should not be used in 4-H clubs, committees or boards for the same reasons outlined above.

Electronic voting

Electronic voting can be done according to Roberts Rules of Order in many different ways. However, for 4-H boards and committees, Michigan State University Extension suggests only utilizing this form of voting for extreme situations. For example, if there is a need to purchase flowers for a funeral but the committee is not scheduled to meet, the president may call for an electronic vote to determine if it is appropriate. In these cases there is a simple yes or no vote and no debate will take place. If there is a need to have debate on an issue before voting, then a special meeting should be called.

For further information regarding 4-H groups in the areas of bylaws, parliamentary procedure or leadership, please contact the 4-H Leadership and Civic Engagement team at Other helpful articles may include “Following parliamentary procedure guidelines for ballot voting,” “Kick off your committee’s success by starting with the membership” and “Parliamentary Procedure: Frequently asked questions.”


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