Defining “Majority”

The definition of what constitutes a “majority” can be surprisingly tricky, thanks to the attempt by some to over-think what should be a very simple definition.

“Majority” should be simply defined as “more than half.”

This can also sometimes be called a “simple” majority, to distinguish it from the 2/3 or 3/4 super-majority thresholds that are sometimes required by Robert’s Rules (ie. cutting off debate) or the Strata Properties Act (ie. for a Special Resolution to amend bylaws.)

Unfortunately we have an alternative definition of “majority” floating around in the zeitgeist summarized by the false “50%+1” mathematical formula. Please never use this formula. Here is why it is confusing and can produce false results.

Imagine a voting body with an odd number of members, lets say a strata council with 11 members, to keep things simple. “More than half” of the voting members in such a situation is quite easy to determine, it is 6. Half of 11 is 5.5, so more than half is 6, since you can’t have half a person casting half a vote.

Applying the “50%+1” formula produces a different, false result. 50% of 11 is 5.5, +1 = 6.5. Since you can’t have half a person casting half a vote you would then need a total of 7 votes to surpass the threshold. 7 is the wrong answer. A majority of 11 is clearly 6. We can try to repair the mathematical formula by adding the additional caveat to always round down to the nearest whole number, such that the final definition of majority becomes “50%+1, rounding down to whole numbers.”

“More than half” = “50%+1, rounding down to whole numbers.”

Clearly in this case the compulsion to express everything in mathematical formulas is not the better solution. Sticking to the ancient definition of majority as “more than half” is simpler, less confusing and straightforwardly intuitive. Please, let’s abolish the mathematical definition of majority from common usage.

Majority = More than Half

What could be easier than that?


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