Guest Clare F

Help with vote count error after meeting closed

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I need help with an error in a by-law change that occurred at an annual meeting of the membership. The by-law change was on the agenda, discussed by the membership, then put to a ballot vote. The vote passed by a simple majority and the chair stated the vote has passed and gaveled the vote as passed. The meeting moved on with other agenda items and finally the meeting adjourned as usual when all topics were discussed on the agenda. A month later members of the board were informed that the vote taken and passed by the membership did not pass because the by-laws says any changes to the by-laws require a 2/3 yes vote to pass. Since the ballot vote was 1 vote short of a 2/3 majority it was stated it didn't pass.

In my reading of Roberts rules if a point of order was not brought to the floor during the time of the vote then the vote will stand because no one made a point of order that it violated the by-law requirement for by-law changes and the chair gaveled in open session that the vote passed. I am looking at Roberts Rules v2011 on pages 250-251. My interpretation is that a point of order needed to be made during the meeting session, else the vote counts as the membership voted that way by a simple majority and no point of order was made. Am I understating the rules correctly? There isn't much information for this situation after a membership meeting has ended, but an error was found weeks or months later. Thanks.

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The requirement for a 2/3 vote could be seen as a rule protecting absentees, in which case, it would be a continuing breach and the point of order could be made at any time (see page 251).

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I need help with an error in a by-law change that occurred at an annual meeting of the membership. The by-law change was on the agenda, discussed by the membership, then put to a ballot vote. The vote passed by a simple majority and the chair stated the vote has passed and gaveled the vote as passed. The meeting moved on with other agenda items and finally the meeting adjourned as usual when all topics were discussed on the agenda. A month later members of the board were informed that the vote taken and passed by the membership did not pass because the by-laws says any changes to the by-laws require a 2/3 yes vote to pass. Since the ballot vote was 1 vote short of a 2/3 majority it was stated it didn't pass.

In my reading of Roberts rules if a point of order was not brought to the floor during the time of the vote then the vote will stand because no one made a point of order that it violated the by-law requirement for by-law changes and the chair gaveled in open session that the vote passed. I am looking at Roberts Rules v2011 on pages 250-251. My interpretation is that a point of order needed to be made during the meeting session, else the vote counts as the membership voted that way by a simple majority and no point of order was made. Am I understating the rules correctly? There isn't much information for this situation after a membership meeting has ended, but an error was found weeks or months later. Thanks.

 

The tellers' report should have been entered in full in the minutes. What, exactly, was contained in that report, and what, exactly, did the chair say when announcing the result of the vote?

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Nope.  See here   #18, last paragraph.

 

Okay, so essentially, the remaining number of required to reach 2/3 conceded the point by not raising a point of order at the time. Does it make a difference that the 2/3 required here is required by the bylaws, rather than by the RONR rule for amending something previously adopted?

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Okay, so essentially, the remaining number of required to reach 2/3 conceded the point by not raising a point of order at the time. Does it make a difference that the 2/3 required here is required by the bylaws, rather than by the RONR rule for amending something previously adopted?

 

No, it makes no difference. Such a rule is clearly identifiable as being in the nature of a rule of order.

 

However, I'm not yet sure what rule was violated. Was it the rule that a two-thirds vote was required for adoption, or was it the rule that says, for example, that 19 is not two thirds of 30. In other words, what sort of stupidity mistake are we dealing with.  :)

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The chair stated the yea's have 18 the nea's have 11, the motion passes and the gavel came down. No one disputed the vote at the time or any time during the rest of the meeting and eventually the meeting concluded. I am assuming the clerk noted the motion as passed at the time of them meeting, but several weeks passed and the clerk probably was rewriting the minutes to be distributed to the membership and that is when the error was realized.

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The chair stated the yea's have 18 the nea's have 11, the motion passes and the gavel came down. No one disputed the vote at the time or any time during the rest of the meeting and eventually the meeting concluded. I am assuming the clerk noted the motion as passed at the time of them meeting, but several weeks passed and the clerk probably was rewriting the minutes to be distributed to the membership and that is when the error was realized.

 

The tellers should have submitted a written report such as the one found in the example on page 418 (except stating that two thirds, and not a majority, was required for adoption). What did this report say?

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 . . . the ballot vote was 1 vote short of a 2/3 majority

 

The chair stated the yea's have 18 the nea's have 11 . . . 

 

You were more than one vote short.

 

The simplest way to determine whether a two-thirds vote has been achieved is to see if you have at least twice as many "yes" votes as "no" votes.

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The report hasn't been distributed at this time. I believe the clerk was writing the minutes from the notes taken at the time of the meeting and realized the vote was short based on the by-laws requiring a 2/3 majority. The clerk informed the board members (4 weeks later) but not the membership yet. In reading Mr. Huynh's link that is almost an exact example of what happened and according to that example the vote stands because there was no timely point of order.

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The report hasn't been distributed at this time. I believe the clerk was writing the minutes from the notes taken at the time of the meeting and realized the vote was short based on the by-laws requiring a 2/3 majority. The clerk informed the board members (4 weeks later) but not the membership yet. In reading Mr. Huynh's link that is almost an exact example of what happened and according to that example the vote stands because there was no timely point of order.

 

This report should have been read (twice, actually) at the meeting. Do you remember if it stated, as it should have, the fact that a two-thirds vote was required for adoption?

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This report should have been read (twice, actually) at the meeting. Do you remember if it stated, as it should have, the fact that a two-thirds vote was required for adoption?

I know you are going somewhere with this, but at the moment I don't know where that is.   Perhaps I'm missing something, but what difference would it make whether this procedure was followed, other than perhaps that by doing so someone might have realized that the amendment actually failed and would have raised a timely point of order?

 

Regardless of whether or how the tellers and the chair messed up in announcing the vote and the result, isn't the outcome the same.... a timely point of order would have been required and it's too late now to raise one?

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I know you are going somewhere with this, but at the moment I don't know where that is.   Perhaps I'm missing something, but what difference would it make whether this procedure was followed, other than perhaps that by doing so someone might have realized that the amendment actually failed and would have raised a timely point of order?

 

Regardless of whether or how the tellers and the chair messed up in announcing the vote and the result, isn't the outcome the same.... a timely point of order would have been required and it's too late now to raise one?

 

Yes, the main point I'm trying to make is that the rules in RONR about what a tellers' report should contain, the reading aloud of that report, and the language that the chair should use in announcing the result of a vote, are all there for good reasons, not the least of which is that, if these rules are adhered to, it is much more difficult to make a mistake of this kind.

 

Beyond that, let me ask you this. Do you think that the rule that says that 18 is not two thirds of 29 is a suspendable rule?

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Beyond that, let me ask you this. Do you think that the rule that says that 18 is not two thirds of 29 is a suspendable rule?

Nope.  :)

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Okay, but If there has been a breach of a rule which cannot be suspended, can't a point of order regarding the matter be raised at anytime during the continuance of the breach?

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The vote tally was read verbally and then the results announced by the chair and stated it passed. The meeting moved on with other agenda items. We don't usually read back the vote, but I can understand why that could be important to catch procedure problems.

I was wondering about the same question Mr. Honemann stated, but in the spirit of the voting by the body of the members how can a breech be continuing forever? Does that mean years later a breech can be resurected? Seems that is not the spirit of the voting body that passed the ballot vote by a majority and no regular member or board member caught the mistake till after the meeting session closed. If we take that one step further a board member could knowingly not make a point of order since the vote didn't go their way, then say after the meeting the vote failed because it didn't follow the rules. Seems underhanded but it could be manipulated in that way if someone didn't like the results. In the example stated above the chair could inform the membership at the next meeting, but it was too late to bring up a point of order, that window came and went.

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The vote tally was read verbally and then the results announced by the chair and stated it passed. The meeting moved on with other agenda items. We don't usually read back the vote, but I can understand why that could be important to catch procedure problems.

I was wondering about the same question Mr. Honemann stated, but in the spirit of the voting by the body of the members how can a breech be continuing forever? Does that mean years later a breech can be resurected? Seems that is not the spirit of the voting body that passed the ballot vote by a majority and no regular member or board member caught the mistake till after the meeting session closed. If we take that one step further a board member could knowingly not make a point of order since the vote didn't go their way, then say after the meeting the vote failed because it didn't follow the rules. Seems underhanded but it could be manipulated in that way if someone didn't like the results. In the example stated above the chair could inform the membership at the next meeting, but it was too late to bring up a point of order, that window came and went.

 

The problem with that thinking is that without the Point of Order, the board is stuck with the bylaw change. The board can't just decide not to go by the bylaws because they think they were adopted improperly. Only the body that has the authority to change the bylaws has the authority to determine if they were adopted improperly or not.

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Okay, but If there has been a breach of a rule which cannot be suspended, can't a point of order regarding the matter be raised at anytime during the continuance of the breach?

Yes, I would think so.  However, how do we reconcile that with the rule that the chair's pronouncement of the outcome of the vote stands unless a timely point of order is raised at the time of the announcement?

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I guess Mr. Brown's point is what I am struggling with. There was no timely point of order made after the vote announcement or at any time during the meeting conclusion; The error was found weeks later. If we site the example Mr. Huynh gave, it is clear to me that the window of opportunity was after the vote was made public or at the time the continuing breach occurred during the rest of the regular meeting session. Since no point of order was made in the timely window, the vote stands. That is my interpretation of the example stated above and is almost a mirror I and a few others are struggling with before confronting the rest of the board members.

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Yes, I would think so.  However, how do we reconcile that with the rule that the chair's pronouncement of the outcome of the vote stands unless a timely point of order is raised at the time of the announcement?

 

Is it not the case that with a continuing breach the point of order is timely far beyond what a normal breach would be?

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Okay, but If there has been a breach of a rule which cannot be suspended, can't a point of order regarding the matter be raised at anytime during the continuance of the breach?

Sure, but I find it a bit far-fetched to call this a breach of "the rule that 18 is not two-thirds of 29."

Let's suppose that the error had been with the count rather than with the math. If the tellers had counted 19 votes in the affirmative, when there were in fact 18, this would not be a breach of the rule that 18 is not 19. It would simply be an error, and the proper action to correct it would be a recount, not a Point of Order. It's possible (depending on the circumstances), that a recount may be in order here, but I don't think a Point of Order is timely at this point.

The vote tally was read verbally and then the results announced by the chair and stated it passed. The meeting moved on with other agenda items. We don't usually read back the vote, but I can understand why that could be important to catch procedure problems.

I was wondering about the same question Mr. Honemann stated, but in the spirit of the voting by the body of the members how can a breech be continuing forever? Does that mean years later a breech can be resurected? Seems that is not the spirit of the voting body that passed the ballot vote by a majority and no regular member or board member caught the mistake till after the meeting session closed. If we take that one step further a board member could knowingly not make a point of order since the vote didn't go their way, then say after the meeting the vote failed because it didn't follow the rules. Seems underhanded but it could be manipulated in that way if someone didn't like the results. In the example stated above the chair could inform the membership at the next meeting, but it was too late to bring up a point of order, that window came and went.

Some breaches are of such a severe nature that they can indeed continue years later, or even forever, but I don't think that's the case here.

I guess Mr. Brown's point is what I am struggling with. There was no timely point of order made after the vote announcement or at any time during the meeting conclusion; The error was found weeks later. If we site the example Mr. Huynh gave, it is clear to me that the window of opportunity was after the vote was made public or at the time the continuing breach occurred during the rest of the regular meeting session. Since no point of order was made in the timely window, the vote stands. That is my interpretation of the example stated above and is almost a mirror I and a few others are struggling with before confronting the rest of the board members.

It must be understood that, in any event, the board can't make a decision on this issue. Since the initial vote occurred at a meeting of the membership, a Point of Order or a motion for a recount would also need to happen at a meeting of the membership.

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Sure, but I find it a bit far-fetched to call this a breach of "the rule that 18 is not two-thirds of 29."

 

Then what rule has been breached when the chair announces that "There are 18 votes in the affirmative and 11 votes in the negative. There are two thirds in the affirmative, and the motion is adopted."

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The vote tally was read verbally and then the results announced by the chair and stated it passed. T

 The tellers' report in RONR contains a good deal more than the vote tally.

 

For one thing, it contains the number of votes required to adopt, calculated according to the proper threshold.  If that were done, and 29 votes were cast it would have said:

Required for passage:  20  

 

And since 18 is less than 20, the chair probably would not have declared the motion passed.

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