Pie in the Sky: One member. One vote.

It’s already been alluded to in the comments on my post on Democratic Membership, but wouldn’t it be ground breaking to actually give each member a vote…..on everything.

Given the current state of technology, there is no reason why any presentation or information available to the Board, couldn’t be readily available to each member in a timely fashion and the same goes for any vote. Votes could be taken electronically and results posted very quickly. I’d even suggest making terms of membership reflect a certain “attendance rate” for votes as a requirement.

Would it work for every CU? Heck no. (Areas where internet access isn’t the standard would surely be wrong for it.) Would it work for some CU? I’d like to think so.


4 comments so far

  1. Morriss Partee on

    Fantastic idea. There is little that would create more loyalty and engagement with their credit union than if members could vote on issues before the board.

    This would also facilitate incredible word of mouth. Imagine neighbors saying “what do you mean, your bank doesn’t let you vote on how it’s run? I get to do that at my credit union all the time!”

  2. Jeffry Pilcher on


  3. Ginny Brady on

    I believe wholeheartedly in the democratic principle that gives members (or citizens) the power to control the policies, procedures and actions of their credit union by “one member one vote”. This privilege of membership brings with it a responsiblity to become an educated voter by studying and reflecting on the underpinings of the issues being voted upon. One of the underlying goals of the Boardcast is to encourage participation on the part of our members so that the credit union ideal of “one memberr one vote” might expand to more actions than electing the board. Our board blog is designed to provide a forum so that members have a means to discuss credit union issues and make their views known. For most members, this is a new concept. It seems to have been lost in the growth of individual credit unions. Boards and management have gotten used to making decisions in a relative vaccum. Members have relinquished their responsiblity since, in most instances, they don’t see the need to be actively involved. A cooperative revolution is made up of boards/management who open channels of dialogue and education with members and members who embrace their responsiblity as being the real decision makers in a cooperative.

  4. David on

    Ginny’s example is inspirational: there should not be a vacuum between members and the board.

    Here is another example:

    The UK’s Co-operative Bank (not a credit union) set out an ethical lending policy nearly 15 years ago.

    Then it gave every customer an annual vote in refining that policy. This vote has a far higher profile than the business-as-usual of member democracy: attend the annual meeting … ratify the accounts … elect next year’s board.

    It is less bureaucratic too: just a few clicks on the internet. We now have a second annual vote: to allocate the bank’s charitable funding.

    This connection with customers has totally transformed the profile of the bank’s customers, and increased retail deposits ten fold.

    So, some direct democracy can be added, it really works, and, instead of undermining the co-op’s established representative democracy, it adds a few drops of rocket fuel to it.

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