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Magazines & Newsletters / ASTM Standardization News

About Voting

January/February 2008
EnRoute

About Voting

Your vote counts in the ASTM International standards development process,
but how is it tallied?

As an ASTM International member, your participation is key to the ASTM standards development process, which includes voting to express your endorsement, disapproval and opinion via ballots.

It’s easy enough to cast your vote on a standards action using “MyASTM,” but some aspects of how your vote counts in the ultimate tally might be less obvious. What, for example, is an official voting member? What constitutes a voting interest? What do these mean to your place in the voting process? Here are some answers.

Members in ASTM International technical committees and subcommittees are assigned official votes to ensure balance among voting producers, users, consumers and general interest members. In this way, various interests can be protected and no single viewpoint can dominate the proceedings.

The official/non-official voter distinction comes into play for ballot tally requirements. At the subcommittee and main committee level, a 60 percent ballot return is needed. In addition, the balloting process requires a two-thirds percent affirmative at the subcommittee level and a 90 percent affirmative at the main committee level. These percentages are calculated from the ballot returns of official voting members.

If you are a non-official voter, you still participate in the same manner in the standards development process and have access to all applicable ballots. Statements submitted to support your negative vote (to be covered in the next SN) still stop a document from going forward until considered by the technical committee.

To further protect the consensus process, ASTM International also takes voting interests into consideration, and a voting interest receives one official vote. The Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees defines a voting interest as “an organization, a subsidiary of an organization or an unassociated individual member having a distinctly separate interest from any other interest with regard to the scope of a committee or subcommittee.” Again, a voting interest assignment prevents any single group from dominating the standards process.

The subcommittee chair or main committee membership secretary typically determines a voting interest. Any individual within a particular voting interest may hold the official vote; those representing the interest decide among themselves who should hold that vote. And, a voting interest’s official voter may vary among subcommittees and between subcommittee and main committee. In all cases, ballot returns among members need not agree with each other. People from the same voting interest may hold differing opinions about a particular ballot item.
The official/non-official voting difference affects the ability to vote on negatives. Only official voting members or their proxies can vote on actions to find negative votes not persuasive or not related.

To make voting more convenient, ASTM International has built a flexible electronic balloting system through which committees consider some 3,000 ballot actions each year that result in more than 22,000 technical contributions from negative votes and comments. The system includes e-mail alerts to announce open ballots with reminders sent at regular intervals. You can save a partially completed ballot, and individual ballot items can be accessed, or the entire document can be downloaded and printed, to work on at any time until the ballot closing date.
After submitting your ballot, you will receive a confirmation page summarizing any negative votes or comments. In addition, ASTM posts ballot negatives and comments, closed ballots and closing reports on the Web, all accessible through “MyASTM.”