It is good when students get to vote rather than being told what to do. It is better when they are encouraged to hash out a consensus together or reach a compromise. Voting is just “adversarial majoritarianism” — a contest that produces losers who often have no commitment to what the larger number of participants wanted. More important, the hard work of listening, considering others’ points of view, and fashioning new solutions — in short, the guts of democracy — is all but absent when matters are just put to a vote.
I’m afraid I don’t know of any on-line resources offering practical suggestions for how to help students make decisions democratically. My two favorite writings on this topic are pretty obscure: Ruth S. Rothstein, “Getting to Yes in the First Grade,” in a journal calledReading in Virginia (vol. 19, 1994, pp. 12-3), and a book authored by the group Child Development Project called Ways We Want Our Class to Be: Class Meetings that Build Commitment to Kindness and Learning(Developmental Studies Center, 1996, esp. pp. 36-41).