Alexis Hunt

Voting Requirement for Postponed Motions

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Alfonso moves a motion to rescind a previous action. This motion is then postponed to the next regular meeting. What is the voting requirement for the motion in each of the following scenarios (either majority vote or (two-thirds vote or vote majority of the membership))?

a. Alfonso provided previous notice of his motion to rescind. No mention of the motion or its postponement was made in the call for the next meeting.

b. Alfonso did not provide previous notice of his motion to rescind. No mention of the motion or its postponement was made in the call for the next meeting.

c. Alfonso did not provide previous notice of his motion to rescind. The full text of the motion is included in the call for the next meeting.

I believe that a. and c. require a majority, and b. requires the higher threshold. But I am interested as to your opinions.

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If the notice requirement was met, then notice was given. If the notice requirement was not met, then notice was not given.

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9 hours ago, Alexis Hunt said:

Alfonso moves a motion to rescind a previous action. This motion is then postponed to the next regular meeting. What is the voting requirement for the motion in each of the following scenarios (either majority vote or (two-thirds vote or vote majority of the membership))?

a. Alfonso provided previous notice of his motion to rescind. No mention of the motion or its postponement was made in the call for the next meeting.

b. Alfonso did not provide previous notice of his motion to rescind. No mention of the motion or its postponement was made in the call for the next meeting.

c. Alfonso did not provide previous notice of his motion to rescind. The full text of the motion is included in the call for the next meeting.

I believe that a. and c. require a majority, and b. requires the higher threshold. But I am interested as to your opinions.

Assuming that the "action" sought to be rescinded was not something such as a special rule of order (which would require either previous notice and a two-thirds vote or a vote of a majority of the entire membership for its rescission), a majority vote will suffice for adoption of the motion to rescind under the circumstances mentioned in a, but a two-thirds vote or the vote of a majority of the entire membership will be required for its adoption under the circumstances described in b. and c. In neither of the last two scenarios was previous notice given of intent to make the motion to rescind.

As defined in RONR (11th ed.), “previous notice” is an announcement that a motion “will be introduced” (p. 121, ll. 23-30). Once a motion has been made, it is no longer possible to give “previous notice” of an intention to make it (p. 306, ll. 26-27; p. 312, l. 5).

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I don't think that I can introduce a counterargument based on the letter of the law, but to me that does seem very unintutive... but then again I do not always feel like I understand the fundamental purpose of the higher threshold is, since it is not to protect absentees.

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6 hours ago, Alexis Hunt said:

I don't think that I can introduce a counterargument based on the letter of the law, but to me that does seem very unintutive... but then again I do not always feel like I understand the fundamental purpose of the higher threshold is, since it is not to protect absentees.

Which higher threshold are you referring to?  A requirement of previous notice does protect absentees. A requirement of a two-thirds vote does not. A requirement of a vote of a majority of the entire membership protects absentees whenever a majority of the entire membership is not present.

As to a two-thirds-thirds vote:

"As a compromise between the rights of the individual and the rights of the assembly, the principle has been established that a two-thirds vote is required to adopt any motion that: (a) suspends or modifies a rule of order previously adopted; (b) prevents the introduction of a question for consideration; (c) closes, limits, or extends the limits of debate; (d) closes nominations or the polls, or otherwise limits the freedom of nominating or voting; or (e) takes away membership." (RONR, 11th ed., p. 401)

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Thanks for the reply. The combination of two-thirds and a majority of the membership does not protect absentees then, either, correct?

 

It occurred to me, rereading this thread, that the following scenario could arise:

Alfonso wants to make a motion to rescind, so he gives notice at the previous meeting.

After is notice is given, Nancy moves the recission for which Alfonso gave notice. Since no notice was given, Nancy's motion requires either two-thirds or a majority vote of the membership to approve. She then moves to postpone it to the next meeting. If her postponement is succesful, she has effectively defeated the purpose of Alfonso's notice: Alfonso cannot move the motion, since an identical motion will be in the hands of the assembly, nor is there any effective means by which he can both defeat the motion and subsequently move his own motion with the lower threshold, since the assembly must have decided on the same question.

Granted, this relies on either an unstable majority (either Nancy's postponing majority is temporary, or Alfonso's rescinding majority is temporary) or clueless members, but it is still a rather absurd application of the rules.

 

Additionally, how should this apply to committees? The purpose of a notice rule (even one just to lower the threshold) is to give members an opportunity in advance to know that an item of business will be moved, and give interested members time to ensure their attendance and prepare their arguments. Once an item of business is referred to a committee, the membership knows that the committee is considering it but, officially, has no way of knowing when the committee will return its report. It could be many months after the original motion, and possibly at a surprising time. Yet, interpreting this strictly as has been suggested, the vote threshold required to consider the motion when it is reported back from the committee is based entirely on whether or not notice was originally given many months ago, and has nothing to do with the meeting at which the committee reports.

In my opinion, based on the underlying principles, the motion coming back from committee should either:

  • Require the higher threshold unless notice has been given that the committee will be reporting the motion back, on the basis that members should be informed in advance of the business to be considered.
  • Never require the higher threshold, because once the motion is in the hands of a committee, every member is on notice that it may be brought up at any time.

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4 hours ago, Alexis Hunt said:

The purpose of a notice rule (even one just to lower the threshold) is to give members an opportunity in advance to know that an item of business will be moved, and give interested members time to ensure their attendance and prepare their arguments

I'm sorry but if that is the purpose of giving notice and I always thought it was how does postponing a motion to the next meeting not also give interested members time to ensure their attendance and prepare their arguments. It seems to me that postponing a motion to the next meeting is tantamount to giving notice that it will be considered at the next meeting.

 

 

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4 hours ago, alanh49 said:

I'm sorry but if that is the purpose of giving notice and I always thought it was how does postponing a motion to the next meeting not also give interested members time to ensure their attendance and prepare their arguments. It seems to me that postponing a motion to the next meeting is tantamount to giving notice that it will be considered at the next meeting.

Yes, but giving notice or being informed that a motion that has already been introduced will be considered at a future meeting has nothing at all to do with the vote required for the adoption of that motion.

Perhaps one might think that this should have something to do with it, but our primary concern here is with understanding what the rule now is, and not what we think it should be.

 

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17 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Yes, but giving notice or being informed that a motion that has already been introduced will be considered at a future meeting has nothing at all to do with the vote required for the adoption of that motion.

Perhaps one might think that this should have something to do with it, but our primary concern here is with understanding what the rule now is, and not what we think it should be.

Ok but just where can I find this rule in Robert's? The one that says or at least implies that postponing say a  motion to rescind made without notice to the next meeting will not change the vote needed to adopt it.

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, alanh49 said:

Ok but just where can I find this rule in Robert's? The one that says or at least implies that postponing say a  motion to rescind made without notice to the next meeting will not change the vote needed to adopt it.

I don't think you will find any statement of such a "negative" rule.  The absence of such a rule, changing the vote requirement for a postponed (previously noticed) motion, is a strong implication that postponing such a motion does NOT change the vote requirement.  Neither the discussion of previous notice (page 121 and elsewhere) nor postponing (page 179ff.) hints at such a thing.  Indeed, page 188, line 16, notes that "the business is in the same condition as it was immediately before the postponement" with an unrelated exception following.

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> Yes, but giving notice or being informed that a motion that has already been introduced will be considered at a future meeting has nothing at all to do with the vote required for the adoption of that motion.

The member would be better off asking to withdraw his motion. The call of the next meeting would describe the substance of the motion and it would be introduced as a new motion and would only require a majority vote. However, if the motion pre-existed, was postponed as in the present discussion, or came about by any other means, the instant it is stated by the chair it would require a two-thirds vote even if it had previous notice at the current meeting. In the words of Doctor Spock, "Captain, this scenario is totally illogical."

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On 14/03/2017 at 7:05 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Yes, but giving notice or being informed that a motion that has already been introduced will be considered at a future meeting has nothing at all to do with the vote required for the adoption of that motion.

While I agree with your interpretation of the text, this statement isn't true of the motion to Rescind, along with others. The required vote does change depending on whether or not notice is given.

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On ‎3‎/‎14‎/‎2017 at 7:05 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Yes, but giving notice or being informed that a motion that has already been introduced will be considered at a future meeting has nothing at all to do with the vote required for the adoption of that motion.

 

6 hours ago, Alexis Hunt said:

While I agree with your interpretation of the text, this statement isn't true of the motion to Rescind, along with others. The required vote does change depending on whether or not notice is given.

Oh, that statement of mine is entirely correct.

The kind of notice that affects the vote required for the adoption of certain motions (such as the motion to Rescind) is notice of an intent to make it, and such notice can be given only before, and not after, the motion has been made.

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6 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

The kind of notice that affects the vote required for the adoption of certain motions (such as the motion to Rescind) is notice of an intent to make it, and such notice can be given only before, and not after, the motion has been made.

That cannot be the case.
That interpretation leads to an absurd result.
***
Q. If, in January,
a motion is moved and seconded
(To Amend Something Previously Adopted)
which targets an ordinary act of the society,
but is postponed to to the next regular meeting (February),

and,

is again postponed to the next regular meeting (March),
then what can a member do to lower the vote threshold of the postponed motion to a majority vote?
***
Under your interpretation, there is no way to do so.
And that is absurd.

Since it is absurd, then that cannot be an accurate interpretation of the rule.
There must be a rational interpretation which allows for a majority vote of a multiple-time postponed motion.

(Note that the motion will have appeared in two sets of minutes, come the March meeting.)

 

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1 hour ago, Kim Goldsworthy said:

That cannot be the case.
That interpretation leads to an absurd result.
***
Q. If, in January,
a motion is moved and seconded
(To Amend Something Previously Adopted)
which targets an ordinary act of the society,
but is postponed to to the next regular meeting (February),

and,

is again postponed to the next regular meeting (March),
then what can a member do to lower the vote threshold of the postponed motion to a majority vote?
***
Under your interpretation, there is no way to do so.
And that is absurd.

Since it is absurd, then that cannot be an accurate interpretation of the rule.
There must be a rational interpretation which allows for a majority vote of a multiple-time postponed motion.

(Note that the motion will have appeared in two sets of minutes, come the March meeting.)

A member could give notice that he intends to make the motion anew, provided that the original motion is withdrawn.

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8 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

The kind of notice that affects the vote required for the adoption of certain motions (such as the motion to Rescind) is notice of an intent to make it, and such notice can be given only before, and not after, the motion has been made.

 

2 hours ago, Kim Goldsworthy said:

That cannot be the case.
That interpretation leads to an absurd result.
***

It isn't an absurd interpretation of the rule in RONR because it isn't an interpretation. The rule itself is quite unambiguous in this regard.

I suggest you read it.

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The rule as written is not ambiguous in any way, its just absurd.

If the authors believe that an introduced motion that requires previous notice, without such previous notice should not be allowed to be adopted by anything less than a two-thirds vote, even if it is postponed to a future meeting that includes a notice, then make the rule indicate explicitly that this is the case, including the prohibition of withdrawing the motion, otherwise the scenario I indicated takes place, that is, the mover withdraws his motion, gives notice, the motion is then introduced at the next meeting and its adoption can be accomplished via a majority vote rather than two-thirds.

On the other hand, if the authors believe that once notice has been offered and that it makes no difference how the motion arrived at the assembly, then let them indicate that this is the case and that the subsequent notice is valid for all intents and purposes.

I can live with either of these outcomes.

The current rule requires the mover, once his motion is postponed to a future meeting, to either withdraw his motion, offer notice and then introduce the motion again at the next meeting, or to offer notice and withdraw his motion at the next meeting and then immediately introduce the same motion. This whole exercise is just silly and absurd in order to fulfill the requirement that "the motion will be introduced" as stated on page 121. This wording did not exist before 1970 and neither did the problem exist for the ninety-four years between 1876 and 1970. This is "parliamentary kabuki" at its worst.

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14 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

The rule as written is not ambiguous in any way, its just absurd.

If the authors believe that an introduced motion that requires previous notice, without such previous notice should not be allowed to be adopted by anything less than a two-thirds vote, even if it is postponed to a future meeting that includes a notice, then make the rule indicate explicitly that this is the case, including the prohibition of withdrawing the motion, otherwise the scenario I indicated takes place, that is, the mover withdraws his motion, gives notice, the motion is then introduced at the next meeting and its adoption can be accomplished via a majority vote rather than two-thirds.

On the other hand, if the authors believe that once notice has been offered and that it makes no difference how the motion arrived at the assembly, then let them indicate that this is the case and that the subsequent notice is valid for all intents and purposes.

I can live with either of these outcomes.

The current rule requires the mover, once his motion is postponed to a future meeting, to either withdraw his motion, offer notice and then introduce the motion again at the next meeting, or to offer notice and withdraw his motion at the next meeting and then immediately introduce the same motion. This whole exercise is just silly and absurd in order to fulfill the requirement that "the motion will be introduced" as stated on page 121. This wording did not exist before 1970 and neither did the problem exist for the ninety-four years between 1876 and 1970. This is "parliamentary kabuki" at its worst.

This is all rather confused, but interesting.

Sarah Corbin Robert was, in her day, the preeminent parliamentarian in America, and she was fully familiar with the views of General Robert and his plans for future editions of Robert's Rules of Order.

However, I suppose "Guest Zev" is entitled to express his (her?) opinion, although I notice that he bravely does so anonymously.

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