In unionized workplaces, during negotiations, a contract proposal by an employer, that may be acceptable to the collective bargaining committee, will be brought back for ratification, or a vote by the general membership, before the union can either accept or decline such a contract proposal. A ratified proposal means a "Yes" vote and will form the basis for the new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) for that workplace.
Different organizations have different rules for how a constitutional change is ratified. Federations usually require the support of both the federal government and a certain percentage of the subsidiary entities. Some ratification processes also require a supermajority within legislatures.
Article Seven of the constitution of the United States describes the process by which the entire document was to become effective. It required that conventions of nine of the thirteen original States ratify the constitution. Once word was received that the ninth state had ratified the constitution - New Hampshire, June 21, 1788 - a timetable was set for the start of operations under the Constitution, and on March 4, 1789, the government under the Constitution began operations.
Ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon is now in progress, although it was rejected by Irish voters in a referendum in June 2008. As it must be ratified by all member states, it is therefore no longer clear whether it will be ratified. The aim is to finish the ratification process by 2009.
The ratification of international treaties follows the same rules as the passing of laws in most democracies. Important exceptions are the United Kingdom and the United States.
In the U.S.A., treaty ratification must be advised and consented to by a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate. The Senate does not actually ratify treaties. Once the Senate has given its advice and consent to ratification, the President ratifies the treaty by signing an instrument of ratification. While the United States House of Representatives does not vote on it at all, the requirement for Senate advice and consent to ratification makes it considerably more difficult in the US than in other democracies to rally enough political support for international treaties.
The treaty or legislation does not apply until it has been ratified. Usually this must be done first by both parties (in July 2006 British bankers contested their extradition to the US in application of a treaty not yet ratified in America), or in a multilateral agreement it may be provided that a quorum (e.g. half) of the signatories must have ratified it.