Re: Majority Rule
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 06:19:46 -0700 (PDT)

On Sep 12, 2004, at 12:36 AM, Rob Sandelin wrote:

Sharingwood has used variations on Majority rule voting several times over the years. It seems to work quite well for color or other attribute type decisions where there is no right answer, only preferences.

We use as similar system that includes an "I can't live with this" category. We put the items out with a slip of paper with two columns. People put a check mark in the yes and no columns or an X in the no column that says "under no circumstances." Items with several Xs go out automatically but many check marks for yes and an X or two would be discussed with the X makers.

With posters donated to hang in the commonhouse, for example, we discovered that the Xs on the penguins from the zoo were just because the people didn't want Zoo posters in the living room and another poster from the Museum of Modern Art had an image that might be construed as a political statement. Understanding the Xs allowed us to put the penguins in the kids room and the MOMA poster in a stairwell.

Using slips of paper has worked very well for us and avoids hours of "polite" discussion over items people are afraid of saying anything bad about because the person who donated them them might be sitting there feeling attacked. Many things need no discussion at all -- they are in or out--if the truth be known. If someone wants to make a case for something, they are free to do so.

The only problem we had with this was when we "voted" on three tile choices. A received the most votes by far, B a good number, and C hardly any at all. After the fact A was determined to be too rough for the kitchen -- the crevices would be hard to clean. So the person in charge bought B without consulting anyone. We should have revoted on B and C, because the wide preference would have been C. It had received few votes because it was very similar to A but less rough. By far the majority would have preferred C and had only not voted an X on B because it was clear to everyone that A was the choice. The B tiles are still sitting in the basement and will probably go into a yard sale at some point. We've decided we need stainless steel splashes and no one wants to put up tiles anyway.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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