dman

Majority vote vs majority vote present

18 posts in this topic

Within the constitution/bylaws of our organization, the vote required to pass budgetary items is noted as:  "majority of the members present". 

There is disagreement in the board on what this means.  I contend it means if 10 attend the meeting, 6 votes are required to pass no matter how many of the 10 vote.

If a combination of "no" votes and abstentions totals 6 votes, then the 6 required "yes" votes cant be acheived and the measure does not pass.

Other board members say a voice vote can be used as long as there are no "NO" votes.

I think, with a voice vote, it can not be confirmed the threshold 6 votes have been met so a hand count is always required.

When a "majority vote" is called for it is the majority of votes cast.  Abstentions dont impact the results.

When a "majority vote present" is called for it is the majority of attendees regardless of the number of votes cast.  So here abstentions arent counted, but affect the vote by possibly preventing the majority being met.

What is correct?

Thanks for any information.

Dan

Edited by dman
typing error

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The unqualified term majority vote means a majority of those present and voting. If 20 members are present, but only 10 of them vote, it would take six votes to adopt something . 

 

 The term majority of those present means just what it says. If 20 numbers are present, it requires 11 yes votes to pass something regardless of how many vote no and abstain

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I would also agree that, in practice, you cannot identify a majority present on a voice vote.  A voice vote allows you to compare the yeas to the nays to see, roughly, if more voted yes than no, but won't help here unless the abstainers vote with the negatives (which wouldn't change anything else, since on such a vote, abstaining is, in effect, a negative vote).

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Thanks to the 3 members above for their helpful and clear responses.  I had read FAQ #6, and it addressed part of my question, just not the part of whether a voice vote was appropriate when the "present" is specified. 

Godelfan did address this, so thanks to you all.

Dan

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I wouldn't get too hung up on procedure. If this group is not very sophisticated from a parliamentary standpoint, and if what it has been doing is working, and if most motions carry almost unanimously, it may be that voice votes will suffice. However, keep in mind that any member may demand a division, which is a rising vote or, as a possible alternative, raising hands. In your case, since the vote threshold is based on the members present, a division should be conducted by means of a counted vote to insure that you have the required number of yes votes. 

You don't need to be more formal than is necessary for the organization to conduct business effectively and efficiently

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On 1/12/2017 at 1:56 PM, dman said:

Within the constitution/bylaws of our organization, the vote required to pass budgetary items is noted as:  "majority of the members present". 

There is disagreement in the board on what this means.  I contend it means if 10 attend the meeting, 6 votes are required to pass no matter how many of the 10 vote.

If a combination of "no" votes and abstentions totals 6 votes, then the 6 required "yes" votes cant be acheived and the measure does not pass.

Other board members say a voice vote can be used as long as there are no "NO" votes.

I think, with a voice vote, it can not be confirmed the threshold 6 votes have been met so a hand count is always required.

When a "majority vote" is called for it is the majority of votes cast.  Abstentions dont impact the results.

When a "majority vote present" is called for it is the majority of attendees regardless of the number of votes cast.  So here abstentions arent counted, but affect the vote by possibly preventing the majority being met.

What is correct?

Thanks for any information.

Dan

When the vote required is a majority of those present, all that matters is the number of Yes votes, which must be more than half of the number present.

I agree that a voice vote cannot reliably determine this.   I think a counted rising vote or counted show of hands would be necessary.  

If the number of Yes votes is enough to carry the motion, it would not be necessary to call for the No votes, but if the motion does not have enough votes to pass, the chair should call for the negative vote, if only to preserve the rights of those voting No to move to Reconsider.

Edited by Gary Novosielski
Amend last paragraph

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6 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

When the vote required is a majority of those present, all that matters is the number of Yes votes, which must be more than half of the number present.

I agree that a voice vote cannot reliably determine this.   I think a counted rising vote or counted show of hands would be necessary.  It would not be necessary to call for the No votes, since the motion either passes or fails based upon the number of Yes votes cast.

Doesn't RONR provide that the chair should always call for the no votes except in the case of some courtesy votes,?  (I don't have RONR with me at the moment).

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56 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

Doesn't RONR provide that the chair should always call for the no votes except in the case of some courtesy votes,?  (I don't have RONR with me at the moment).

Actually, what RONR says (on p. 45) is that:

"The chair must always call for the negative vote, no matter how nearly unanimous the affirmative vote may appear, except that this rule is commonly relaxed in the case of noncontroversial motions of a complimentary or courtesy nature; but even in such a case, if any member objects, the chair must call for the negative vote. A further exception arises when the negative vote is intrinsically irrelevant, as, for example, when 'a vote of one fifth of the members present' is required, and the number who have voted in the affirmative is clearly greater than one fifth of those present (see p. 403)." (Emphasis supplied)

In my opinion, according to the book as now written, if the vote of a majority of the members present in an assembly (not a standing or special committee) is required for adoption of a motion and the number of members who have voted in the affirmative is less than a majority of the members present, the chair must call for the negative vote. Negative votes are not irrelevant in this instance because, although an abstention has the same effect as a negative vote, an abstention is not a vote, and only members who actually voted "no" are eligible to make a motion to Reconsider the vote on a rejected motion. The only recognized exception to this rule is with respect to motions adopted by unanimous consent.

Edited by Daniel H. Honemann

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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Actually, what RONR says (on p. 45) is that:

"The chair must always call for the negative vote, no matter how nearly unanimous the affirmative vote may appear, except that this rule is commonly relaxed in the case of noncontroversial motions of a complimentary or courtesy nature; but even in such a case, if any member objects, the chair must call for the negative vote. A further exception arises when the negative vote is intrinsically irrelevant, as, for example, when 'a vote of one fifth of the members present' is required, and the number who have voted in the affirmative is clearly greater than one fifth of those present (see p. 403)." (Emphasis supplied)

In my opinion, according to the book as now written, if the vote of a majority of the members present in an assembly (not a standing or special committee) is required for adoption of a motion and the number of members who have voted in the affirmative is less than a majority of the members present, the chair must call for the negative vote. Negative votes are not irrelevant in this instance because, although an abstention has the same effect as a negative vote, an abstention is not a vote, and only members who actually voted "no" are eligible to make a motion to Reconsider the vote on a rejected motion. The only recognized exception to this rule is with respect to motions adopted by unanimous consent.

But doing so adds an unnecessary step.

All The Book needs to add is a sentence to the effect,

(a.) "Where the negative vote is/was intrinsically irrelevant and thus not taken, any non-affirmative voter is eligible to move to Reconsider."

OR

(b.) Include in Reconsider's Standard Descriptive Characteristics the eligibility of those who who could not vote in the negative on a vote where the negative vote was not taken due to the intrinsically irrelevant nature.

***

(c.) Or just lift the rule of Reconsideration for committees and place it in the SDC of Reconsider.

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Our concern in this forum is with understanding what the rule is now.

I'm confident that those responsible for changing it, if any change should be made, are quite capable of doing so without any help from us.

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14 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Actually, what RONR says (on p. 45) is that:

"The chair must always call for the negative vote, no matter how nearly unanimous the affirmative vote may appear, except that this rule is commonly relaxed in the case of noncontroversial motions of a complimentary or courtesy nature; but even in such a case, if any member objects, the chair must call for the negative vote. A further exception arises when the negative vote is intrinsically irrelevant, as, for example, when 'a vote of one fifth of the members present' is required, and the number who have voted in the affirmative is clearly greater than one fifth of those present (see p. 403)." (Emphasis supplied)

In my opinion, according to the book as now written, if the vote of a majority of the members present in an assembly (not a standing or special committee) is required for adoption of a motion and the number of members who have voted in the affirmative is less than a majority of the members present, the chair must call for the negative vote. Negative votes are not irrelevant in this instance because, although an abstention has the same effect as a negative vote, an abstention is not a vote, and only members who actually voted "no" are eligible to make a motion to Reconsider the vote on a rejected motion. The only recognized exception to this rule is with respect to motions adopted by unanimous consent.

Thanks, Dan, I hadn't considered the side-effects of an abstension.

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On 1/12/2017 at 2:04 PM, Richard Brown said:

The unqualified term majority vote means a majority of those present and voting. If 20 members are present, but only 10 of them vote, it would take six votes to adopt something . 

 

 The term majority of those present means just what it says. If 20 numbers are present, it requires 11 yes votes to pass something regardless of how many vote no and abstain

Our By Laws state "majority vote of the members present" does this mean if 20 members are present, but only 10 of them vote, it would take six votes to adopt??

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2 minutes ago, EX DIR said:

Our By Laws state "majority vote of the members present" does this mean if 20 members are present, but only 10 of them vote, it would take six votes to adopt??

The phrase "majority vote of the members present" is inherently ambiguous, and so your organization will need to determine for itself what its bylaws mean in this regard. It may mean a "majority vote" or it may mean the "vote of a majority of the members present".

In any event, it would be a good idea to amend your bylaws in order to remove the ambiguity.

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6 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

The phrase "majority vote of the members present" is inherently ambiguous, and so your organization will need to determine for itself what its bylaws mean in this regard. It may mean a "majority vote" or it may mean the "vote of a majority of the members present".

In any event, it would be a good idea to amend your bylaws in order to remove the ambiguity.

Can you define "majority vote" and "vote of a majority of the members present"

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11 minutes ago, EX DIR said:

Can you define "majority vote" and "vote of a majority of the members present"

"... when the term majority vote is used without qualification—as in the case of the basic requirement—it means more than half of the votes cast by persons entitled to vote, excluding blanks or abstentions, at a regular or properly called meeting."  (RONR, 11th ed., p. 400)

A "vote of a majority of the members present" means exactly what it says - the vote of more than half of the members present.

"Voting requirements based on the number of members present—a majority of those present, two thirds of those present, etc.—while possible, are generally undesirable. Since an abstention in such cases has the same effect as a negative vote, these bases deny members the right to maintain a neutral position by abstaining. For the same reason, members present who fail to vote through indifference rather than through deliberate neutrality may affect the result negatively." (RONR, 11th ed., p. 403)

You really ought to get yourself a copy of the current edition of RONR, and read Section 44 in its entirety. You'll learn a lot. :)

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Although we cannot know what was their intent and comprehension, I believe that some or many organizations that provide for "a majority of those present" really meant "a majority of those present and voting". It is my opinion that, in almost all cases, the RONR definition for a motion passing is best. As others have pointed out, it may be best for organizations to remove such language from governing documents and rely on RONR.

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