What Is the Purpose of Acclamations?

October 5, 2022

Let us kick things off by highlighting some of the basics of the acclamation vote. In simple terms, election by acclamation is the term used to describe a situation when electing through audible agreement or showing approval through clapping or cheering.

Not all of us are familiar with the different electoral processes, be it nationally, locally, or at an institutional level. This is why it can be confusing for us to hear terms such as ‘voting by acclamation.’ On the other hand, if you have ever attended any meeting or convention where a legislative procedure is used and elections are taking place, you have likely heard someone using terms like ‘election by acclamation.’

Acclamation can also be defined as an oral vote, where instead of people proclaiming their vote using a ballot, they use verbal approval such as cheers, applause, and shouts to voice their preference. Therefore, some associations and jurisdictions prefer to use this sort of voting because it is quick, to the point, and cost-effective. 

Purpose of Acclamations

Legal historians will tell you that the right to vote was not the first form of political representation–democracy was, at first, a form of government by assembly. As a result, we can see some of its variations today, such as an HOA election by acclamation.

Based on current laws, election by acclamation is reserved for those instances when only one person is nominated. When there is only one candidate and no other options, members can declare the preference through enthusiastic approval. In plain terms, the election becomes a declaration of approval whenever a candidate is uncontested. 

From small elections like HOA voting events for board positions to important votes like the election of chairs, the process of election by acclamation is used primarily as an alternative method to hand count votes and balloting. It is beneficial when almost everyone is planning to vote in a particular way in any case.

However, it is essential to note that before a candidate can be elected by acclamation, the chair must first ensure that only one person has been nominated for a particular seat–they can do this by asking those attending the meeting if there are additional nominations.

Bylaw Restrictions for Election by Acclamation

Before you start considering how you can save time at your next voting event by electing by acclamation, you must first look at your bylaws. If they contain sections that require your elections to take place by ballot, you cannot conduct an election by acclamation. Remember, acclamation is a kind of vocal vote–if the bylaws say that a ballot vote is required for elections, then your association will have to use ballots to find a winner among the candidates.

Using a ‘Voice Vote’

Election by acclamation was intended to cater to various groups, settings, and electoral processes; however, it remains unique. With conventional methods, at least two candidates are on the ballot, and you check one box for your preferred choice. This is because there is no ‘yes’ or ‘no’ compartment for each candidate. The way it works is that you vote against one by casting your ballot for the other. At the end of the process, one of them is elected to office. 

When it comes to election by acclamation, there is typically only one candidate for each seat, which is why a voice vote is taken. The electorate does not have to pit one candidate against the other.

In certain jurisdictions, a candidate for any seat is deemed elected if they have no opponents for the seat in question. This rarely occurs on a federal level, but tends to be more common in legislative elections in some territories and during municipal polls.

In Conclusion

It’s clear that election by acclamation can be reasonable and convenient. However, it can only be applied when your bylaws do not call for a ballot vote and when only one person is nominated as a candidate.

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