Guest Steve H

Reporting a Show of Hands Vote

11 posts in this topic

At an AGM with more than 100 participants (including where attending members may have held as many as two proxies) is it appropriate to report or record in the minutes a "show of hands" vote looking for a majority as "passed unanimously"?  

I suggest that it is not as it implies everyone voted in favour of the motion. 

The apparent procedure for a show of hands vote is to first call for "all those in favour".  A majority would appear obvious but there may be some who did not raise their hand ... either with the possibility of voting against however when the "all those opposed" those that did not initially raise their hand decide it is futile to vote and don't raise their hand.

A show of hands vote is not a counted vote unless called for.

Minutes of the meeting should make it perfectly clear what the outcome was and in this instance, without a count, using "passed unanimously" is wholly misleading.    

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4 hours ago, Guest Steve H said:

Minutes of the meeting should make it perfectly clear what the outcome was and in this instance, without a count, using "passed unanimously" is wholly misleading.    

   >> I suggest that it is not [appropriate], as it implies everyone voted in favour of the motion.

No.

The phrase "passed unanimously" does not mean what you assert it means (viz., that everyone [physically inside the meeting room] voted in favor of the motion).

The term "unanimous" in Robert's Rules of Order does not refer to non-voting members (or non-voting delegates).

Under Robert's Rules of Order, abstentions are never accounted for, under the default parliamentary rules of voting.

When Robert's Rules of Order uses the phrase "unanimous consent" or "unanimous vote", the implication is, "abstentions do not count".

The phrase does imply, "No votes were cast in opposition [to the prevailing side]."

***

I would suggest that you accept that the adjective "unanimous," in the parliamentary sense, does not refer to "every physical human being who could have voted, but who failed to cast a vote."

I  suggest that you take the adjective to automatically imply, "Abstentions not being a factor."

***

Think of it this way.

• A "unanimous vote" refers to votes.

• A "unanimous vote" does not refer to non-votes, nor to the collective pool of potential voters.

***

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Thank you for your answers.  When taking the show of hands vote:

A. Is it possibly to ask for "those against" first, then followed by "those in favour?

B. When calling a show of hands vote when the Presiding Officer calls for "those in favour" and sees that there is a clear majority is it necessary to then ask for "those against"?

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1 hour ago, Guest Steve H said:

B. When calling a show of hands vote when the Presiding Officer calls for "those in favour" and sees that there is a clear majority is it necessary to then ask for "those against"?

Yes, it's necessary (in case you didn't glean that from Mr.  Huynh's answer)

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1 hour ago, Hieu H. Huynh said:

The chair should ask for the affirmative votes followed by the negative votes.

Thank you for the response.  Is it mandated to ask for "those in favour" first?  Or is it possible that the Presiding Officer can ask for "those opposed" first followed by asking for those in favour?

IMHO, the situation of having a "show of hands vote" looking for a majority creates the situation that after "those in favour" are looked at to see if there is a majority, and it looking like a majority then those who may have been opposed, being so small in number, may decide they do not want to expose themselves as being opposed and therefore withhold their vote.  And in that then the abstained vote is not counted bringing me back to describing a show of hands vote (or any other similar vote other than a secret vote) as having "Passed (or approved) Unanimously" as misleading to all reading the minutes of the meeting not having attended the meeting.

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1 hour ago, Guest Steve H said:

Thank you for the response.  Is it mandated to ask for "those in favour" first?  Or is it possible that the Presiding Officer can ask for "those opposed" first followed by asking for those in favour?

 

It is mandated to ask for the affirmative first.  The situation you describe shouldn't be misleading, because the people reading the minutes should hopefully understand what unanimous means - and if not, you can help them, now that you know.  Of course, it's not necessary for the minutes to say anything other than that the motion passed, and I see no real reason it.  If those who are opposed choose not to vote, though, then they haven't registered their opposition.

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Thanks to all for your knowledgeable answers and guidance; I appreciate the sharing of your expertise.  I think it is a shame that simple non profit societies who adopt parliamentary procedures such as Robert's Rules of Order have meanings of words, like unanimous, altered from the normal usage.  Common usage conveys something like "fully in agreement" and "an opinion, decision, or vote held or carried by everyone involved but Robert's Rules makes a sham of that meaning favouring "silence is agreement or consent".

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Guest Steve H said:

Thanks to all for your knowledgeable answers and guidance; I appreciate the sharing of your expertise.  I think it is a shame that simple non profit societies who adopt parliamentary procedures such as Robert's Rules of Order have meanings of words, like unanimous, altered from the normal usage.  Common usage conveys something like "fully in agreement" and "an opinion, decision, or vote held or carried by everyone involved but Robert's Rules makes a sham of that meaning favouring "silence is agreement or consent".

It's your organization that is making a sham of this, not Robert's Rules. As has been stated several times, RONR's position is that the minutes should simply say that the motion was adopted.

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"Unanimous" means "of one mind." Those who don't express an opinion don't mind.

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