ASTM Standards and Voting

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ASTM Standards and Voting


You can vote. And you should.

As an ASTM International member you are entitled — as stated in the Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees — to vote on all main and subcommittee ballots where you hold membership. These are your “voting privileges.” (Note: While you must be a member to vote, all those interested are welcome to participate in technical discussions.)

Your vote counts in more than one way.

First, if you vote negative, your vote stops a standard from proceeding. That’s true even if you’re not an official voting member.

When voting negative, you should be as specific as possible about the issues you have with the proposed standard. It’s not enough to say you don’t like something. Indicate whether a section of a guide or a step in a test needs to be different. If possible, suggest an alternate wording that will help improve the standard and guide the members reviewing your negative. 

If your objection to the draft concerns its wording and isn’t technical, consider an affirmative vote with comments and questions. That will help strengthen the standard but not hold up its progress.

Second, your vote counts in the total needed for the tally. There are requirements for a percentage return in order to have a valid return. For a subcommittee ballot, for example, the ballot is open at least 30 days, and a 60 percent return and two-thirds affirmative are needed for it to be valid.

Note that official votes are different from the overall vote counts. If your company has 30 committee members, your company get just one official vote. That helps ensure equal weight between individuals, small firms, and large companies. However, all votes count in terms of overall return requirements.

Third, you can vote by proxy at a meeting by designating another member from the applicable subcommittee or main committee or from your voting interest. The proxy form must be completed, in handwriting (not typed) by the voting member assigning the proxy.

A few final thoughts and tips about voting:

  • If you feel strongly that something is off in a standard’s text, even if it’s not something directly in your field of expertise, you can still vote negative;
  • You have the option to abstain if you do not have a sense of the technical side of a standard;
  • Do not assume that someone else will share your viewpoint; be sure you express yours;
  • Three or more consecutive missed ballots can result in losing an official vote;
  • If you don’t vote, you’ll help that item fail; and
  • VOTE!

Regs Corner
What Happens with Negative Votes

Negative votes stop a standard from moving forward. All negatives must be accompanied by a written statement and must be addressed by the responsible subcommittee or main committee if the document is to proceed further. The Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees (Section 11.4) explains what needs to happen.

For main committee ballot items, the subcommittee needs to address the negative vote first at a meeting or by ballot. The main committee can then uphold the not persuasive or not related actions of the subcommittee at a meeting or by ballot.

If members agree that the negative vote is correct and the standard needs revisions, the negative is considered persuasive. The persuasive negative removes the item from ballot.


  • A negative vote can be found not persuasive, which requires a two-thirds affirmative vote, with reasoning that responds to the points raised in the negative.
  • A negative vote can be found to be not related, also with a two-thirds affirmative vote needed. The issue needs to be an item new business for the subcommittee meeting.
  • A negative can be determined to be previously considered through documentation showing this was done.

To learn more about negative votes and addressing them, read “Getting Positive Results from Negative Votes."

For more information, contact your staff manager.

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