Decisions and Power

Stand Asides

Stand asides are a time-honored practice in majority vote decision-making. They are used when a person wants their vote recorded, but can’t vote yes, doesn’t want to vote no, and doesn’t want to abstain. Usually it means the person disagrees but has agreed to stand aside and allow the decision to go forward. Sometimes it means that they have a conflict of interest and want the record to show that they were not voting, but abstentions are used to record this. Abstentions, however, are often considered to be weak no’s.

In consensus decision-making stand asides serve no purpose. Each member of the decision-making body has an obligation to register an objections in order to improve the decision. All information is important. The only considerations are arguments for and against the proposal. If a person has no arguments against the proposal they are consenting to its passage.

Consent doesn’t mean agreement. At minimum consent means the proposal seems to be a good one and worth trying. Even if a person has been out of touch and has no direct knowledge of the proposal and is not affected by it, they are still consenting by allowing it to go forward.

Consent isn’t an endorsement. No one will interpret the lack of standing aside to be active championing of the proposal. During discussion, each person has an opportunity to explain why they are consenting or objecting. This is sufficient to clarify any misunderstandings.

Consent only means the person isn’t objecting.

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