jstackpo

"Majority of a quorum" (or "2/3 of a quorum")

17 posts in this topic

Has anybody seen an authoritative definition of what the Topic Title phrase actually means?

Where?  

I know it isn't in RONR, but it does crop up in bylaws from time to time, and from the context, seems to mean: "A majority vote, a quorum being present".  But I haven't seen that definition (or any other) in an "authoritative" source.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Years ago, I do remember DHH himself posted more than one paragraph (a lot typing, for DHH!) on the subject.

Was it in this RRA Q-and-A forum, or was it in the YahooGroups "Parliamentary" forum? -- I don't remember.

Do a keyword search in the YahooGroups forum. The topic was covered to my own satisfaction, if I remember. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Memories, memories . . .

Foggy recollection from that years-ago posting:

***

• The phrase is shorthand. It really implies, "majority [vote] of the quorum."

That is, an implication that, (a.) a majority being present, and (b.) assuming the ideal turnout of 100% of the members casting a vote.

Even if people abstain, you get the implied "majority will" of the quorum, if not literally "a majority of the quorum".

***

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see the term used in statutes and ordinances, such as open meetings laws and city charters, fairly often.  I cringe whenever I see it, but I've generally thought that it means just what it says, as awkward as that is. 

Example:  A rule (statute, bylaw, whatever) says a motion must be adopted by the vote of a "majority of the quorum".  It is a nine member board with a quorum of four.  At a meeting, four members are present, constituting a quorum.  A resolution receives a vote of 2 to 1, with one member abstaining.  That is a "majority vote"  as defined in RONR, but I do not believe it is a majority of a quorum.  That vote would require three affirmative votes (a majority of four). 

The same thing would apply with a vote of "two thirds of a quorum.

If I am mistaken, I welcome a correction!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The (logic) problem with R. Brown's example is, suppose that all 9 members are there. On an issue, 3 vote Yes, 6 vote no.  But "a majority of the quorum" (3) voted yes so the motion carries.  Obviously a reductio ad absurdum so the definition is deficient.

I agree that the "majority of the quorum" can be used as a  minimum vote requirement, so a 2-1 vote is not sufficient to adopt something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Hieu H. Huynh said:

The phrase "majority of a quorum" is mentioned in Parliamentary Law on page 111 and in Question 331 on page 521.

Yes, but General Robert doesn't really define the term on either page.

In my post above, and in response to Dr. Stackpole's response to that post, I probably should have added that I view my interpretation of "majority of the quorum" as the "minimum" vote required.  That is one reason I cringe whenever I see the term used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Hieu H. Huynh said:

I thought the info in this thread was useful.

Not just "useful", but Dan's history note in the thread clears it all up. Thank you.  In effect the definition of a "quorum" changed (in 1890) such that "majority of a quorum", which made perfect sense prior to that date, became a nonsense and cringe-worthy phrase subsequently (even though courts and statutes continued to use it).

(Now I can go back to sleep.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen that construction too, in statutory rules regarding public bodies.  On my former school board in NJ, there were rules that certain motions required a majority of the entire membership, some a majority, and at a minimum, a "majority of a quorum".  On our nine-member board with a quorum of five, then, no motion could pass with fewer than three votes.

In practice, the matter never came up in my sixteen-year tenure, as our attendance was always good enough, and abstentions were rare.

That was not the only oddball rule, either, and it's always tricky trying to answer questions regarding public bodies because the procedural rules can be a minefield--one whose mines vary from state to state.  As Dan pointed out in that other thread, it's a good thing parliamentary law is not set by the courts.  (Except when it is, and then it is usually not good.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The language exists in the famous Ballin decision, i.e. "United States  vs. Ballin, 144 US 1 (1892)."  I would agree that it is a good thing that parliamentary law is not set by the courts, unfortunately.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately, the term is still used all too often, especially by governmental bodies such as city councils, legislative committees, etc. 

By chance, I came across that language yesterday afternoon when researching the "Rules of Order for the House of Representatives" of the Louisiana Legislature.  The vote required to report a bill out of a committee is "a majority of a quorum present and voting".  (Rule 6.9 C of the "Rules of Order of the House of Representatives" of the Louisiana Legislature).  It's a term that I sincerely wish could be banished.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/21/2016 at 8:52 PM, jstackpo said:

The (logic) problem with R. Brown's example is, suppose that all 9 members are there. On an issue, 3 vote Yes, 6 vote no.  But "a majority of the quorum" (3) voted yes so the motion carries.  Obviously a reductio ad absurdum so the definition is deficient....

IIRC, Dan Seabold was particularly irked by the phrase, and used a similar example, about ten years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a situation where the person who the association claimed constituted was a quorum arrived one hour and 5 minutes late to the meeting.

Our understanding is that the quorum must be established at the start of the meeting. 

Would this still constitute a quorum?  Or does this become a new meeting that should have been noticed?

I need to find the language to clears this up.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Locke said:

We have a situation where the person who the association claimed constituted was a quorum arrived one hour and 5 minutes late to the meeting.

Our understanding is that the quorum must be established at the start of the meeting. 

Would this still constitute a quorum?  Or does this become a new meeting that should have been noticed?

I need to find the language to clears this up.

Thanks

Locke had started a new topic here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

Loading...