Standards Development How-to

When You Do Not Agree

Effective Comments and Negative Votes

Before you enter a vote on a proposed standard, or if you’re not sure whether to vote negatively, consider this question: Can you live with the proposed standard’s content? Or, to be a bit more specific, do you have any concerns related to the draft’s technical content, procedures or safety, or its potential effect on your company?

If you don’t have any concerns — i.e., you can live with it — but you feel something needs tweaking, such as an editorial change, then vote “Affirm with Comment.” Comments do not keep a draft from moving forward and can appropriately be used for new business as well as editorial changes that correct misspellings or similar errors.

However, if you can’t live within the confines of the content, enter a negative vote. The negative vote will stop the item from going forward in the balloting process until it is addressed. Remember that a negative vote must be accompanied by a rationale as required by the Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees.

If you decide to vote negatively: Be specific. Be detailed. Refer to the sentence, section or paragraph that brought about your negative. Include, if at all possible, an alternate wording that would address your issue, and say whether that change would enable you to withdraw your negative. Should your concern be about apparatus, include details about it. Should your concern be more involved, still be as comprehensive in your rationale as possible about your sense of what needs to be adjusted or modified. If there’s more than one place where you have objections, separate the sections and your comments.

Following the ballot’s close, the subcommittee will address any negative votes through a process of communication, consideration and documentation. Resolution can take a number of forms as explained in "Getting Positive Results from Negative Votes."

No matter how you vote on a draft, submit votes at “MyASTM/MyCommittees,” by clicking “Ballots” for the technical committee to get to the “MyASTM/MyBallots” page. (Emails notify members that there are ballots to address.) Clicking into a ballot takes you to individual items where you enter your vote, whether affirmative, affirm with comment, negative, abstain or abstain with comment.

Note that negative votes must be accompanied by a written statement. More information is available at the links for “Creating a Ballot Statement Off-Line” and “Negative Statements” on your MyASTM ballots page. You can attach files, images and figures, and when all is complete, click the “Save Statement” button.

Learn more about or review the balloting process, find materials on balloting and handling negative votes and find dates for upcoming virtual sessions on the topic.

If you have further questions about balloting, please contact your staff manager. For technical issues with the website, contact the Support Desk at 1-800-262-1373 (U.S. or Canada) or 1-610-832-9578 (international) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday, or by email via a help request form.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.