Voting in a Cooperative

Producer cooperatives typically govern according to the one member, one vote principle, which grants each member an equal vote regardless what volume of business they do with the cooperative or the amount of equity or investment they hold in the cooperative.

Some cooperatives exercise a proportional voting system in which members with greater stake in the cooperative, volume or patronage equity, are granted additional voting power.

The cooperative voting procedure utilized by most worker-owned cooperative is called consensus. A consensus is a decision-making process in which members exercise voting rights to come to an agreement on a proposed issue. Any members, including those on the Board of Directors, can submit a proposal to the cooperative.

The proposal is laid out before the vote. All members’ feedback and ideas are taken into account. A formal vote occurs. If the proposal does not pass, it can be reworked, taking into account any concerns regarding the proposal. Finally, the proposal is brought back to membership for a second vote.

Ways of voting in a consensus model include:

Approved Full Support: Members fully support the proposal.

Approved with Reservations: Members mostly support of the proposal, but suggest some improvements.

Approved with Stand Aside: Members have concerns about the proposal or has a conflict of interest, but is willing to pass the proposal despite his or her issue with the proposal.

Not approved/ Dissent: Member(s) think passing the proposal would damage the cooperative business.

Not approved/ Rejected: Member(s) may reject the proposal to request modifications.



“Co-op & Governance.” Casa Nueva. Retrieved from

“Voting and Representation in Agricultural Cooperatives.” U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Service Report 156. Retrieved from