“[A]ll things shall be done by common consent in the church.”
This appears very democratic on the surface. It even involves what the Church called a vote (see D&C 20:63,65-66). In reality, this consent is a formality. A member of the congregation is expected to “vote” for the ordination or calling of a person placed in authority over them or for a decision made that may affect them. If they “vote” against the calling or decision, it is typically observed as odd and even rebellious. This being the case, almost all such “votes” are unanimous or nearly so. It is more similar to a “vote” in the former Soviet Union than a democratic process.
The Church admits that they view these votes as persons showing their support for a decision that has already been made through revelation by priesthood holders in authority to make the decision in question.
“Sustaining, however, should not be confused with voting into office.
“Joseph Smith made it clear how a person is called to a position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the fifth Article of Faith he says: “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
“When we sustain officers, we are given the opportunity of sustaining those whom the Lord has already called by revelation” (President Loren C. Dunn of the First Council of the Seventy , We Are Called of God , July 1972 Ensign).
Therefore, the vote is not used in a democratic process to choose or decide, it is rather a process of consenting to uphold the decision already made.
(For more information, see “The Law of Common Consent”)