Proposition - Yes/No
a Meeting Place in Aboriginal Art
Description: In a Yes/No ballot the possible responses to the question can be yes or no. A proposition needs to have a "yes" vote of greater than 50% to be accepted.
This is perhaps the simplest process that a group can use to make a decision, and it has been around ever since humans have met to decide things collectively. It is at the core of most meeting proceedures.
A simple choice is put forward (proposed), and people either vote for (yes) or against (no) the proposal. The result is determined by a simple majority (which is more than 50%).
Commentary: The most obvious problem with a proposition is that that the person who sets the question can greatly influence the way the vote will turn out. The effect of language and their relative position to the arguement is all important. For example: if the question on a referendum asks "Do you want to increase taxes ?" then it is doomed to fail. However if the questions asks, "Do you want to increase public services by raising revenue collection ?" then the proposition looks very different even though both questions are asking the same thing.
Another inherent problem is the question that assumes information such that any binary (yes/no) answer is going to be flawed. For example the question "have you stopped kicking your dog ?" may have an answer that is neither "yes" or "no"
Also problematic is that whilst this is great for deciding on a single option, it is quite useless when more than one option can be presented.
Where multiple options are available, the proposal typically needs to go through a series of ammendment procedures and debate. As well as being time consuming, the whole process of the debate can be dictated and thus affected by the person setting the agenda.
The yes/now model is best left for simple propositions which will not need much debate.
History: One of the earliest forms of proposal based decision making, and also a variant of it, dates back to the ancient Athens. It was possible to expel a citizen from the city state thorugh a process where people would cast a small piece of clay inscribed with a persons name into a pit. If enough of these "ostracka" were cast then the person was banished from the city-state or Ostracised. Whilst a variant on the basic idea of a proposition voting style, it is relevent because it was one of the first procedural methods of collective voting.
In its basic form the notion of a mojority vote on a proposition has survived until today and it is now most often used as a core aspect of meeting procedures. It will usually involve a "proposer" a "seconder" and needs to be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
Examples: As well as it's use in meetings, a referendum is also a form of proposition voting.