Weldon Merritt

Waiver of Ballot Vote

41 posts in this topic

I am pretty certain that I already know the answer to my question, but I wanted to post it here to see if any of my colleagues could see a way around the problem. The issue is that the recently revised bylaws of my church specify:

The election shall be by ballot if there are any partial terms to be filled or there are more nominees than positions to be filled, with majority being necessary to elect.…. The nominees receiving the largest majorities will be elected to full three year terms. The candidate receiving the next largest, majority will be elected to the longest unexpired term, if any, and so on until all terms are filled.

At our coming annual meeting in February, we will have two full terms and one unexpired term to be filled, and we have a total of three candidates (one of whom will be the member who was appointed to the unexpired term in the interim). Normally, with three candidates for three positions, our bylaws would not require a ballot vote; but because one of the positions is for an unexpired term, a ballot vote is required.

The board was intending to simply have the appointment to the unexpired term ratified at the annual meeting. But by my reading of the above provision, I believe that lsimony simply ratifying the appointment is not sufficient. Instead, I believe that a ballot vote must be held, with which candidate receiving the unexpired term determined by the result of the vote.

I know that we don’t interpret bylaws here, but my question is whether anyone sees a way around the apparent requirement for a ballot vote in this circumstance. The member appointed in the interim is perfectly willing to take the short term (and in fact, thought that would be automatic). And prior to the recent revision, a ballot election would not have been required in this circumstance. Instead, the member receiving the unexpired term would have been determined by the board itself after the election (either by agreement among those elected or, failing that, by lot). Also, for whatever it is worth, our bylaws disallow nominations from the floor unless at the time of the election there are fewer nominees than positions to be filled. (There is an alternate way for someone other than those nominated by the Nominating Committee to be nominated ahead of the meeting.)

As I said, I am pretty sure that my interpretation is correct, but I just want to see if anyone else sees a way around it.

[Edited to correct a typo.]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Weldon Merritt said:

I am pretty certain that I already know the answer to my question, but I wanted to post it here to see if any of my colleagues could see a way around the problem. The issue is that the recently revised bylaws of my church specify:

The election shall be by ballot if there are any partial terms to be filled or there are more nominees than positions to be filled, with majority being necessary to elect.…. The nominees receiving the largest majorities will be elected to full three year terms. The candidate receiving the next largest, majority will be elected to the longest unexpired term, if any, and so on until all terms are filled.

At our coming annual meeting in February, we will have two full terms and one unexpired term to be filled, and we have a total of three candidates (one of whom will be the member who was appointed to the unexpired term in the interim). Normally, with three candidates for three positions, our bylaws would not require a ballot vote; but because one of the positions is for an unexpired term, a ballot vote is required.

The board was intending to simply have the appointment to the unexpired term ratified at the annual meeting. But by my reading of the above provision, I believe that simony ratifying the appointment is not sufficient. Instead, I believe that a ballot vote must be held, with which candidate receiving the unexpired term determined by the result of the vote.

I know that we don’t interpret bylaws here, but my question is whether anyone sees a way around the apparent requirement for a ballot vote in this circumstance. The member appointed in the interim is perfectly willing to take the short term (and in fact, thought that would be automatic). And prior to the recent revision, a ballot election would not have been required in this circumstance. Instead, the member receiving the unexpired term would have been determined by the board itself after the election (either by agreement among those elected or, failing that, by lot). Also, for whatever it is worth, our bylaws disallow nominations from the floor unless at the time of the election there are fewer nominees than positions to be filled. (There is an alternate way for someone other than those nominated by the Nominating Committee to be nominated ahead of the meeting.)

As I said, I am pretty sure that my interpretation is correct, but I just want to see if anyone else sees a way around it.

Based upon what has been posted, I do not see any way around the ballot vote. The fact that this is a recent revision, in my view, lends even greater weight to the interpretation that a ballot vote is required. It seems apparent that the purpose of the "partial terms" portion of the rule was to ensure that the membership, not the candidates or the board, would choose which candidate gets the partial term.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Weldon Merritt said:

simony ratifying

What's simony ratifying?  Is that a typo or erroneous auto-correction for "simply"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Gary c Tesser said:

What's simony ratifying?  Is that a typo or erroneous auto-correction for "simply"?

It's a typo that either didn't get corrected or was "corrected" with the wrong word. Thanks for cathcing it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

Based upon what has been posted, I do not see any way around the ballot vote. The fact that this is a recent revision, in my view, lends even greater weight to the interpretation that a ballot vote is required. It seems apparent that the purpose of the "partial terms" portion of the rule was to ensure that the membership, not the candidates or the board, would choose which candidate gets the partial term.

Thanks, Josh. You have confirmed my thinking on the issue. To take it a bit further, even though the requirement for a ballot vote can’t be suspended, do you think the method for choosing which candidate gets the short term could be?

If we conduct a ballot vote and one of the candidates has a lower majority than the other two, then that candidate gets the short term. End of story. But say we have a three-way tie (or for that matter, a tie for the lowest majority). At that point, could the candidates agree on which one is to receive the short term (or on an alternate method of deciding), to avoid having to do repeated balloting?

It seems to me that the requirement for a ballot vote and the method for choosing who gets the short term are both rules of order. RONR specifies that the requirement for a ballot vote cannot be suspended, but I am not so sure that would be true of the method for choosing who gets the short term.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Weldon Merritt said:

Thanks, Josh. You have confirmed my thinking on the issue. To take it a bit further, even though the requirement for a ballot vote can’t be suspended, do you think the method for choosing which candidate gets the short term could be?

If we conduct a ballot vote and one of the candidates has a lower majority than the other two, then that candidate gets the short term. End of story. But say we have a three-way tie (or for that matter, a tie for the lowest majority). At that point, could the candidates agree on which one is to receive the short term (or on an alternate method of deciding), to avoid having to do repeated balloting?

It seems to me that the requirement for a ballot vote and the method for choosing who gets the short term are both rules of order. RONR specifies that the requirement for a ballot vote cannot be suspended, but I am not so sure that would be true of the method for choosing who gets the short term.

Yes, I think the rules could be suspended to change how the candidate who receives the short term is selected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

Yes, I think the rules could be suspended to change how the candidate who receives the short term is selected.

But what do you mean by this?

Is it currently understood that, when the ballot vote is taken, voters will be instructed to vote for up to three nominees (as they would be if there were, say, six nominees), or will they be instructed to vote for only two of the three nominees to fill the two full terms which have just expired?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

But what do you mean by this?

Is it currently understood that, when the ballot vote is taken, voters will be instructed to vote for up to three nominees (as they would be if there were, say, six nominees), or will they be instructed to vote for only two of the three nominees to fill the two full terms which have just expired?

 

I don't know what Josh meant, but what I had in mind was to go ahead and have the required ballot vote, with voters instructed to vote for up to three. If that results in one of the candidates having a smaller majority than the other two (because some voters did not vote for all three), fine; that candidate gets the short term. But if there is a three-way tie, or a tie for smallest majority, then we would suspend the rules, declare all three elected, and use an alternate method (agreement of the candidates or by lot) to select which one gets the short term.

I am, of course, open to other suggestions. I am confident that the interim candidate would be fine with getting the short term, since that is what he was expecting anyway. And I am equally confident that the assembly will go along with whatever procedure is suggested, if it will help them get through the meeting quickly. I just want to make sure that whatever we do is legitimate under the rules (including, of course, a legitimate suspension of the rules). For that matter, I doubt anyone would raise an objection to dispensing with the ballot and declaring all three elected, with the interim appointee getting the short term. But I certainly am not going to advise them to do that when the bylaws require a ballot in these circumstances. (I probably will suggest that they amend the bylaws to go back to the old way of determining who gets the short term; but that won't help for this election.)
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you think that instructing voters to vote for only two of the three nominees to fill the two full terms which have just expired will require a suspension of the rules?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Do you think that instructing voters to vote for only two of the three nominees to fill the two full terms which have just expired will require a suspension of the rules?

 

Suggesting that they vote for only two would not. But it seems to me that if the intent is to require that they vote for only two, the rules would have to be suspended (assumming that it is even legitimate to impose such a requirement at all). But that opens the real posssibility that one candidate will not receive a majority. (Possible even if they are instructed to vote for "up to theree," but probably a lot less likely). So what do we do at that point? Conduct another ballot vote for the sole remiaining candidate? Or could we then just declare that candidate elected to the sole remaining position? (Recall that our bylaws disallow floor nominations unless there are too few candidates to fill all postions, and write-ins also are not allowed.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I'm not in a position to really have a decent opinion as to what, exactly, these bylaws require, but it seems to me that a ballot vote is required only because a determination has to be made as to which of the three nominees is to fill the partial term. Suppose, under these circumstances, voters are instructed to vote for the one who they want to fill this position?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Well, I'm not in a position to really have a decent opinion as to what, exactly, these bylaws require, but it seems to me that a ballot vote is required only because a determination has to be made as to which of the three nominees is to fill the partial term. Suppose, under these circumstances, voters are instructed to vote for the one who they want to fill this position?

Your assessment of the treason reason that a ballot vote is needed is correct. Otherwise, with three nominees for three positions, the chair could just declare all three elected. And under the previous bylaws, that also would have happened, with the determination of who gets the short term decided at the first post-election board meeting. This is the first election we have held under the revised bylaws, and quite frankly, I don't think this provision was thought through completely.

What I would like to be able to do is advise them that if the candidates all agree on which one are to get the short term, they can forego the ballot vote and declare all three elected. But if RONR is taken literally (as it usually should be) they can’t do that.

I think one of the reasons that RONR says that the requirement for a ballot vote cannot be suspended even when there are no more candidate than position to be filled (unless the bylaws provide for it) is to allow for write-in votes. But since our bylaws do not allow write-ins, I have been wondering if that would make a difference in whether the ballot requirement could be suspended. Do you have an opinion on that?

Edited to correct a typo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

But what do you mean by this?

Is it currently understood that, when the ballot vote is taken, voters will be instructed to vote for up to three nominees (as they would be if there were, say, six nominees), or will they be instructed to vote for only two of the three nominees to fill the two full terms which have just expired?

My understanding of the rule as written is that they will be instructed to vote for three nominees, and the candidate who receives the smallest majority will be elected to the unexpired term.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

My understanding of the rule as written is that they will be instructed to vote for three nominees, and the candidate who receives the smallest majority will be elected to the unexpired term.

Well, I'm not at all sure that the rule as written means that they must be instructed to vote for three nominees when the ballot vote is not being held because there are more nominees than positions to be filled, but is being held simply because there is a partial term to be filled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/21/2016 at 1:52 PM, Weldon Merritt said:

The election shall be by ballot if there are any partial terms to be filled or there are more nominees than positions to be filled, with majority being necessary to elect.…. The nominees receiving the largest majorities will be elected to full three year terms. The candidate receiving the next largest, majority will be elected to the longest unexpired term, if any, and so on until all terms are filled.

 

On 12/21/2016 at 1:52 PM, Weldon Merritt said:

At our coming annual meeting in February, we will have two full terms and one unexpired term to be filled, and we have a total of three candidates (one of whom will be the member who was appointed to the unexpired term in the interim). Normally, with three candidates for three positions, our bylaws would not require a ballot vote; but because one of the positions is for an unexpired term, a ballot vote is required.

 

1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Well, I'm not at all sure that the rule as written means that they must be instructed to vote for three nominees when the ballot vote is not being held because there are more nominees than positions to be filled, but is being held simply because there is a partial term to be filled.

This is why we don't usually attempt to interpret bylaws provisions on the forum. :-)

I had to read through the topic a couple of times to even begin to understand what all the fuss is about and what Dan has been suggesting. Based solely on the language in the bylaws, there is not really any clue as to how the election should be conducted. However, as Dan points out, in this particular scenario, the "election" is not really for the assembly to choose which candidates shall be appointed to the board, but only to choose which two of the three nominees shall be appointed to full terms (or, alternatively, which one shall be appointed to the partial term).

Therefore, it would make no sense to take a ballot vote in which members are instructed to vote for up to three candidates. So I would agree that they should be instructed to vote for two. In fact, under such instructions, perhaps a ballot with all three candidates marked should simply be treated as an abstention, since the member has indicated no preference regarding the only thing he or she has been asked to indicate a preference about -- i.e., to choose two out of three.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

This is why we don't usually attempt to interpret bylaws provisions on the forum. :-)

I had to read through the topic a couple of times to even begin to understand what all the fuss is about and what Dan has been suggesting. Based solely on the language in the bylaws, there is not really any clue as to how the election should be conducted. However, as Dan points out, in this particular scenario, the "election" is not really for the assembly to choose which candidates shall be appointed to the board, but only to choose which two of the three nominees shall be appointed to full terms (or, alternatively, which one shall be appointed to the partial term).

Therefore, it would make no sense to take a ballot vote in which members are instructed to vote for up to three candidates. So I would agree that they should be instructed to vote for two. In fact, under such instructions, perhaps a ballot with all three candidates marked should simply be treated as an abstention, since the member has indicated no preference regarding the only thing he or she has been asked to indicate a preference about -- i.e., to choose two out of three.

I think that makes a lot of sense. But I also think there is a good possiblity (perhaps even a high probabilit) that most of the voters will vote for the same two candidates (not becasue of any dislike for the third one, but solely because they know that he was appointed to a vaacancy for a term that is not expiring). If I am right, that will mean that he will receive less than a majority. So what do you sugget at that point. Could the chair then declare him (as the sole remaining candidate) elected to the sole remaining position without taking a ballot vote? Or even more radical, if the nominees all agree on who should receive the unexpired term, and since there is no opportunity for write-ins, could the ballot requirement be suspended in this rathar unusual situation?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Weldon Merritt said:

If I am right, that will mean that he will receive less than a majority. So what do you sugget at that point. Could the chair then declare him (as the sole remaining candidate) elected to the sole remaining position without taking a ballot vote?

If you go along with this interpretation, sure. He gets the smallest term, since he has no majority, giving him the smallest majority of all. :)

But seriously, as Dan said,

11 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

. . . it seems to me that a ballot vote is required only because a determination has to be made as to which of the three nominees is to fill the partial term. . . .

In other words, in this case it is a foregone conclusion that the three nominees will fill the three positions, and the balloting needs to be done in a way that facilitates merely deciding who gets which positions.

1 hour ago, Weldon Merritt said:

Or even more radical, if the nominees all agree on who should receive the unexpired term, and since there is no opportunity for write-ins, could the ballot requirement be suspended in this rathar unusual situation?

No. "A rule in the bylaws requiring that a vote—such as, for example, on the election of officers—be taken by (secret) ballot cannot be suspended, however, unless the bylaws so provide (see also Voting by Ballot, pp. 412–13)." [RONR, 11th ed., p. 263] "When the bylaws require a vote to be taken by ballot, this requirement cannot be suspended, even by a unanimous vote." [p. 412]

The fact that there can be no write-ins is irrelevant, since the purpose of the ballot is to decide who gets which positions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

The fact that there can be no write-ins is irrelevant, since the purpose of the ballot is to decide who gets which positions.

That's actually what I thought. I was just seeing if there might possibly be a tiny loophole if the nominees were willing to agree in advance on who gets the short term (as I am pretty sure they would be). But the assembly might decide that a different candidate should get the short term.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Weldon Merritt said:

Your assessment of the treason that a ballot vote is needed is correct.

It might be inconvenient, but i don't think it's treasonous.  :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

It might be inconvenient, but i don't think it's treasonous.  :-)

Darn that spell check again! I really need to do a better job of proofreading. Spell check doesn't help much when the wrong word is correctly spelled.:mellow:.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Weldon Merritt said:

I think that makes a lot of sense. But I also think there is a good possiblity (perhaps even a high probabilit) that most of the voters will vote for the same two candidates (not becasue of any dislike for the third one, but solely because they know that he was appointed to a vaacancy for a term that is not expiring). If I am right, that will mean that he will receive less than a majority. So what do you sugget at that point. Could the chair then declare him (as the sole remaining candidate) elected to the sole remaining position without taking a ballot vote? Or even more radical, if the nominees all agree on who should receive the unexpired term, and since there is no opportunity for write-ins, could the ballot requirement be suspended in this rathar unusual situation?

The bylaws require a ballot vote, and the rule is not suspendible.

The chair cannot declare the person filling the partial term elected by acclamation.  If two people are elected to full terms, and the third candidate gets less than a majority,then another ballot must be held, for the simple reason that this is an election for a partial term.  The bylaws say

Quote

 

The election shall be by ballot if there are any partial terms to be filled....


 

We can sit here all day and agree with each other about the purpose for this rule, arguably that it is only to decide who gets the shorter term.  But even if we were members and voted unanimously that this was the case, it makes no difference.  The bylaws require a ballot vote in this instance, and that rule cannot be suspended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

We can sit here all day and agree with each other about the purpose for this rule, arguably that it is only to decide who gets the shorter term.  But even if we were members and voted unanimously that this was the case, it makes no difference.  The bylaws require a ballot vote in this instance, and that rule cannot be suspended.

That's what I started out thinking, even though I was looking for a possible way around it. But If I am understahnding Dan and Shmuel correctly, they seem to disagree with your view, at least with regard to election to the unexpired term. And while I don't necessarilly agree with them all of the time, I do put a lot of credence in their opinions, especially when they agree with each other. Now if any of the other authors would care to weigh in, so much the better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Weldon Merritt said:

That's what I started out thinking, even though I was looking for a possible way around it. But If I am understahnding Dan and Shmuel correctly, they seem to disagree with your view, at least with regard to election to the unexpired term. And while I don't necessarilly agree with them all of the time, I do put a lot of credence in their opinions, especially when they agree with each other. Now if any of the other authors would care to weigh in, so much the better.

I agree completely with them on the reason for the ballot vote requirement.  But the language in RONR is crystal clear, and so is the language in the bylaws.  Full terms can be won by acclamation, partial terms require a ballot.  Yes, if the bylaws were more finely crafted, this ballot could be avoided, but I don't see how their current language can be interpreted any other way than the ink on the page allows.

RONR does not say: This rule is not suspendible even by a unanimous vote unless you can get two top-notch parliamentarians, (or a dozen, or a hundred, or a majority of the entire membership of the NAP) to say that observing the spirit of the bylaws is all that is required.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What you the voters are told that while they may vote for up to 3 nominees they should not vote for the person they want to see file the short term. If the one in 3rd place still has a majority, he is elected, and if he does not have a majority you hold a run-off election in which he is the sole nominee. In which case, the rules in question do not require a vote by ballot.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

I agree completely with them on the reason for the ballot vote requirement.  But the language in RONR is crystal clear, and so is the language in the bylaws.  Full terms can be won by acclamation, partial terms require a ballot.  Yes, if the bylaws were more finely crafted, this ballot could be avoided, but I don't see how their current language can be interpreted any other way than the ink on the page allows.

RONR does not say: This rule is not suspendible even by a unanimous vote unless you can get two top-notch parliamentarians, (or a dozen, or a hundred, or a majority of the entire membership of the NAP) to say that observing the spirit of the bylaws is all that is required.

 

I can't imagine what might have prompted this response.

We have all agreed that a ballot vote must be held to determine which of the three nominees will fill the partial term.  I just don't believe that having a ballot vote in which voters are instructed to vote for up to three persons from among the nominees (which is what Mr. Merritt has told us he has in mind) is the way to go about doing it. 

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

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

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

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

Loading...