Daniel H. Honemann

What Constitutes a Ballot Vote?

64 posts in this topic

3 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

It think it is self-evident that reporting vote totals is an essential element of any requirement that a vote be counted.

 

"Self-evident"?

No, it is definitely not self-evident.

***

Just the opposite. --

(a.) Anonymity (of the ballot to the party who cast it)

has nothing to do with

(b.) a public announcement (of the tally).

***

I will agree that a ballot vote requires that someone know the actual numbers.

But a ballot vote does not imply that 100% of the members (even the members who are absent from the meeting) have an intrinsic "right" (unsuspendable!) to the tally numbers.

So, the question remains:

Q .What proof can you offer which suggests that the tie between one and the other is a necessary tie?

Q. Is this thing a "fundamental principle"?

Q. Is this thing an inalienable "right of membership"?

Q. What is it?

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14 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Oh, I suppose one might reasonably conclude that the manner of reporting how many votes were cast and how many votes each candidate received may be established by a special rule of order, but the response in the Q&A goes much further by asserting that a special rule of order may be adopted providing that the vote totals are not to be announced at all. I respectfully disagree. It think it is self-evident that reporting vote totals is an essential element of any requirement that a vote be counted.

 

 

Well, the question was if a special rule could be adopted to prohibit if the count, "be announced and recorded in the minutes."  The announcement is by the chair and would include the result of the tellers' report being read.  There is no suggestion that the vote would not be counted, to be clear.

In authorizing a ballot in the bylaws for an election, RONR specifies that there are certain things must be put in the bylaws.  For example, as noted in the opinion, a special rule could not be adopted to prohibit write-in votes in the case of elections, nor to, in any way, to cause the choice of a specific member to be revealed.  Now, I think that committee would agree that those were examples and not a conclusive list of everything that requires bylaw authorization.   For example, I suspect that the committee would agree that in an election of officers as special rule could not be adopted to permit a plurality vote that is not a majority to elect officers (p. 405, ll, 2-6); if they didn't agree on that point, and it came before a committee, there would have been at least one dissent.  :)

There is, however, no rule in RONR that says, in effect, that if you authorize a ballot vote to elect officers, then you must announce that result, unless the bylaws say you don't.  As noted in the opinion, there are rules that say, in effect, that you must permit (and credit) write-in votes in elections unless the bylaws say you don't (pp. 441-2).

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I certainly agree that there is nothing in RONR specifically stating that, if the bylaws require the election of officers to be by ballot, the number of votes cast and the number of votes received by each candidate must be announced unless the bylaws specifically provide otherwise. If there were, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

What I am suggesting is that, as a matter of general parliamentary law, announcement of the number of votes cast and the number of votes received by each candidate is an essential element of a ballot vote, and that, absent such an announcement, a bylaws requirement that officers be elected by ballot (without qualification, as in the sample bylaws in RONR) will not have been complied with. If members are deprived of this information they are deprived of information which may be needed in order to determine whether or not there is some reason or basis for contesting the announced result, as described on pages 444-446. 

Now I know that you and a number of other highly respected members of this forum do not agree with me that this is so, and that’s okay. I didn’t expect anything else, since the opinion in the NP very clearly asserts that a special rule of order eliminating announcement of the vote totals will not conflict with a bylaws requirement that officers be elected by ballot.

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2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I certainly agree that there is nothing in RONR specifically stating that, if the bylaws require the election of officers to be by ballot, the number of votes cast and the number of votes received by each candidate must be announced unless the bylaws specifically provide otherwise. If there were, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

What I am suggesting is that, as a matter of general parliamentary law, announcement of the number of votes cast and the number of votes received by each candidate is an essential element of a ballot vote, and that, absent such an announcement, a bylaws requirement that officers be elected by ballot (without qualification, as in the sample bylaws in RONR) will not have been complied with. If members are deprived of this information they are deprived of information which may be needed in order to determine whether or not there is some reason or basis for contesting the announced result, as described on pages 444-446. 

Now I know that you and a number of other highly respected members of this forum do not agree with me that this is so, and that’s okay. I didn’t expect anything else, since the opinion in the NP very clearly asserts that a special rule of order eliminating announcement of the vote totals will not conflict with a bylaws requirement that officers be elected by ballot.

As I noted here, in 1923, the General said it did not, to the point of claiming that the announcement of vote totals was within the control of the assembly (PL, p 480, Q&A 195).   I would also add, strongly, that is was 94 years ago, and that I do believe the general parliamentary law does evolve over time, so I would not necessarily find that overly persuasive.   In other words, I would not rely on an appeal to authority.  I do think that there are more recent examples.

As indicated previously, a prior research team, in 2003 (and I think on one more recent answer as well) noted that a special rule could be established to prohibit crediting a ballot where people have partially abstained in voting.  In other words, a special rule could be adopted to discount the votes of members who could vote for 3 members of a board, but only voted for one or two; it changed what counted as a vote.   Determining what is included in the teller's report, what actually is used in determining a majority, is much more likely to be intrinsic part of a ballot that simply announcing that total.  I could appeal to precedent, but I won't, as precedent  may be overturned.

I will, however, look at something the authorship team of 2011 chose not to do in writing the 11th edition.  They chose not to include an either specific or general rule that had the effect of changing that 2003 answer and state that a special rule could not modify how ballots were treated.  One member of the authorship team served on the research team that wrote the 2003 answer and another publicly disagreed with that position, so ignorance of it cannot be claimed. 

Perhaps it was something they left out as an oversight; if it was, they can fix it in the 12th edition.  Perhaps it is settled parliamentary law and this is in there because the authorship, collectively, thinks that permitting a special rule does have the ability to effect ballots in such a way.  Either way, it is the current standard of parliamentary law as of May 26, 2017. 

In either case, speaking personally and not speaking for the remainder of the team, I would prefer that the current research team let the authorship team determine where this will go in the future.  The authorship team has at least two signposts to point the way. 

 

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52 minutes ago, J. J. said:

As I noted here, in 1923, the General said it did not, to the point of claiming that the announcement of vote totals was within the control of the assembly (PL, p 480, Q&A 195).   I would also add, strongly, that is was 94 years ago, and that I do believe the general parliamentary law does evolve over time, so I would not necessarily find that overly persuasive.   In other words, I would not rely on an appeal to authority.  I do think that there are more recent examples.

As indicated previously, a prior research team, in 2003 (and I think on one more recent answer as well) noted that a special rule could be established to prohibit crediting a ballot where people have partially abstained in voting.  In other words, a special rule could be adopted to discount the votes of members who could vote for 3 members of a board, but only voted for one or two; it changed what counted as a vote.   Determining what is included in the teller's report, what actually is used in determining a majority, is much more likely to be intrinsic part of a ballot that simply announcing that total.  I could appeal to precedent, but I won't, as precedent  may be overturned.

I will, however, look at something the authorship team of 2011 chose not to do in writing the 11th edition.  They chose not to include an either specific or general rule that had the effect of changing that 2003 answer and state that a special rule could not modify how ballots were treated.  One member of the authorship team served on the research team that wrote the 2003 answer and another publicly disagreed with that position, so ignorance of it cannot be claimed. 

Perhaps it was something they left out as an oversight; if it was, they can fix it in the 12th edition.  Perhaps it is settled parliamentary law and this is in there because the authorship, collectively, thinks that permitting a special rule does have the ability to effect ballots in such a way.  Either way, it is the current standard of parliamentary law as of May 26, 2017. 

In either case, speaking personally and not speaking for the remainder of the team, I would prefer that the current research team let the authorship team determine where this will go in the future.  The authorship team has at least two signposts to point the way. 

 

Suffice it to say that none of what is cited here is relevant.

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17 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Suffice it to say that none of what is cited here is relevant.

It is to what is the current state of that admittedly nebulous body of rules called the general parliamentary law.  :)

In total honesty, if the authorship team wishes to set a parameter as to what a special rule can, or can't, do  they should.   They did in regard to plurality voting.  Note that I am referring to teams, literally, over decades, not individuals.

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11 minutes ago, J. J. said:

It is to what is the current state of that admittedly nebulous body of rules called the general parliamentary law.  :)

In total honesty, if the authorship team wishes to set a parameter as to what a special rule can, or can't, do  they should.   They did in regard to plurality voting.  Note that I am referring to teams, literally, over decades, not individuals.

As far as the question being discussed in this thread is concerned, the parameter has long been firmly established. Nothing in any special rule of order which conflicts with a provision in the bylaws has any validity.

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

As far as the question being discussed in this thread is concerned, the parameter has long been firmly established. Nothing in any special rule of order which conflicts with a provision in the bylaws has any validity.

I agree; but this is not a bylaw provision.   RONR notes specifically notes that  there must be a ballot if the bylaws say there must be, to permit write-in votes (pp. 441-42).  RONR does not say that about announcing the count, or as a previous committee noted, about how partial abstentions are counted.  This leads to the interpretation, which is reasonable, that by requiring a ballot in the bylaws, only those rules that RONR says must be in the bylaws are required to be in the bylaws to be effective.  Now, that is an interpretation.

Another interpretation is that, by authorizing a ballot in the bylaws, all rules relating to a ballot must be placed in the bylaws (and in this case), the announcement of the result.

Okay, which interpretation is more likely.  Well, if all rules regarding ballots must be in the bylaws, why does specifying write-ins need to be mentioned specifically?   RONR establishes a class of things that must be in the bylaws to be binding; one of those things would have to be prohibition on write-in votes (pp. 441-2).  If all things related to a ballot were incorporated into the bylaws, that line would not need to be there.

There is something else.  The bylaws on p. 585 have provisions on nominations.  There are two things of interest there:

RONR notes that the chair "must call for further nominations from the floor (p. 435. ll 9-26)."  The sample bylaws have a provision, however, incorporating a requirement for nominations from the  floor (p. 585, ll. 22-24).  That  line (first included in 7th edition) does not need to be there, if the rules relating to nominations are incorporated into the bylaws.  The sole reason that I come up with is to prevent a special rule from removing nominations from the floor.  So either several generations of authors made a minor mistake in the sample bylaws, or a broad theory that, by mentioning something in the bylaws, it completely incorporates everything from RONR about the mentioned subject, is wrong.

Likewise, the rule in RONR is that no nominee may be dropped.  If the rules relating to nominations is incorporated by RONR in a bylaw level rule, a special rule could not be adopted permit dropping.  Yet, since the 11th edition, a special rule may change that (p. 441, fn.). 

From what I can see is the very nature of a special rule.  It will "supersede any rules in the parliamentary authority with which they may conflict (p. 16, ll. 1-2)."   A special rule modifies what the parliamentary authority says (the exceptions being in the footnote) and can modify the what RONR says for terms in the bylaws.   It is the difference between "parliamentary law" and "parliamentary procedure."

While RONR may explain what could constitute a ballot vote, generally, the society, through its special rules, can decide what constitutes a ballot vote, provided RONR does not require that point to be in the bylaws.  It is only a question of if RONR reserves this for the bylaws, specifically.  It does not and that point is acknowledged.

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Maybe the RONR authorship team felt that having a rule providing for the omission of a proper tellers' report is such a dumb idea that it would be pointless to mention the type of rule needed to accomplish it.

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36 minutes ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

Maybe the RONR authorship team felt that having a rule providing for the omission of a proper tellers' report is such a dumb idea that it would be pointless to mention the type of rule needed to accomplish it.

Well, it stop anyone, ...... in 1923 or their about.

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15 hours ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

Maybe the RONR authorship team felt that having a rule providing for the omission of a proper tellers' report is such a dumb idea that it would be pointless to mention the type of rule needed to accomplish it.

I'm quite sure that the authorship team never discussed this question, but if it had, I think it would have concluded that there is no greater need to include a statement in RONR to the effect that announcement of the number of votes received by each candidate is an essential element of a ballot vote than there is to include a statement in RONR that it is improper to throw bricks at the presiding officer during a meeting. It's simply common sense (sometimes dressed up as general parliamentary law).  :)

And by the way, since J.J. has alluded to it rather obliquely, I don't think that any issue at all arose in this thread (in which the position taken by Josh Martin, Gary Novosielski, Bruce Lages, and the others who posted similar responses was then and is now correct) concerning a conflict between the awful special rule of order there proposed and an existing bylaw provision mandating a ballot vote.

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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I'm quite sure that the authorship team never discussed this question, but if it had, I think it would have concluded that there is no greater need to include a statement in RONR to the effect that announcement of the number of votes received by each candidate is an essential element of a ballot vote than there is to include a statement in RONR that it is improper to throw bricks at the presiding officer during a meeting. It's simply common sense (sometimes dressed up as general parliamentary law).  :)

And by the way, since J.J. has alluded to it rather obliquely, I don't think that any issue at all arose in this thread (in which the position taken by Josh Martin, Gary Novosielski, Bruce Lages, and the others who posted similar responses was then and is now correct) concerning a conflict between the awful special rule of order there proposed and an existing bylaw provision mandating a ballot vote.

No, that was not the opinion that I had referred to; the opinion, which I cited, was from 2003, not 2013.  I said that I thought there was a more recent opinion, that opinion plays no role in anything that I have posted. 

There is  the claim that announcing the vote is an "essential element," of a ballot vote.  I have seen nothing that would prevent a special rule from saying, "The vote totals on ballot votes shall not be announced."  RONR only requires a ballot vote, on the demand of one member, in one case (p. 668,  ll. 1-3) and such a rule would apply. The society may order a ballot, and such a rule would apply in those cases.   In fact, we can go back to Parliamentary Law and say that there is  no "essential element."  In theory, an assembly could, by majority vote, adopt a motion, "that the vote be taken by ballot, but that the vote totals not be announced," in cases where no  additional rules requiring a ballot, which is consistent with General Robert's answer in PL.

Dan, you said, "As far as the question being discussed in this thread is concerned, the parameter has long been firmly established. Nothing in any special rule of order which conflicts with a provision in the bylaws has any validity."  In the sample bylaws, where do you think there is a conflicting bylaw provision? 

 

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16 minutes ago, J. J. said:

 

Dan, you said, "As far as the question being discussed in this thread is concerned, the parameter has long been firmly established. Nothing in any special rule of order which conflicts with a provision in the bylaws has any validity."  In the sample bylaws, where do you think there is a conflicting bylaw provision? 

 

The conflicting bylaw provision is the provision that "The officers shall be elected by ballot ..."

(I obviously have gotten used to repeating things. Back in the day I wouldn't have bothered.  :))

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

The conflicting bylaw provision is the provision that "The officers shall be elected by ballot ..."

(I obviously have gotten used to repeating things. Back in the day I wouldn't have bothered.  :))

Okay, where in that bylaw does it say, "It is required that the vote totals be announced?"

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How contradictory.

"I move that we vote in such a way as to remain anonymous. And that we expose the raw numbers so that we get a good feel of whether the two factions remained constant or proportional in their support."

 

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After thinking about this some more, I go back to thinking it ultimately has to be a question of interpretation up to the assembly. Even if the authorship team were to arrive at a definitive interpretation, per OI 2006-1, such an interpretation is not binding.  RONR clearly does not explicitly state that a bylaws provision requiring a ballot vote also requires the totals be announced, so there is no binding rule.

As to whether it is a question of interpretation of RONR's provisions relating to ballot votes or bylaws, I can't agree with Mr. Honemann that it is a question of interpreting RONR. Bylaws have to be interpreted in their entirety. There are a few cases where RONR directly imposes an interpretation (such as the "and until" vs "or until" in the terms of officers) but even that has to be evaluated with the entire bylaws in context.

It might be a sensible question as to how to interpret the sample bylaws contained in RONR, and that might inform the interpretation of another set of bylaws with similar language, but ultimately I think this is about how an assembling interprets the requirements spelled out in its bylaws, not RONR.

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17 hours ago, J. J. said:

Okay, where in that bylaw does it say, "It is required that the vote totals be announced?"

The bylaw provision in the sample bylaws which says that "The officers shall be elected by ballot ..." says that the vote totals are to be announced in the same place where it says that the votes are to be anonymous and are to be counted. As a consequence, no special rule of order can be validly adopted providing that the ballots shall be signed, or that they shall not be counted, or that the count shall not be announced to the assembly. These are all essential elements of what is meant by the phrase "elected by ballot".

Edited by Daniel H. Honemann

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3 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

The bylaw provision in the sample bylaws which says that "The officers shall be elected by ballot ..." says that the vote totals are to be announced in the same place where it says that the votes are to be anonymous and are to be counted. As a consequence, no special rule of order can be validly adopted providing that the ballots shall be signed, or that they shall not be counted, or that the count shall not be announced to the assembly. These are all essential elements of what is meant by the phrase "elected by ballot".

Well, the bylaw says, "The officers shall be elected by ballot to serve for one year or until there successors are elected, and their terms of office shall begin at the close of the annual meeting at which they are elected (p. 585, ll. 25-28)."   I see nothing in that bylaw specifically that says, "The vote totals shall be reported."   I am not saying that the requirement is in the bylaws, only that it is not specified in the clause that you quote.

As to the announcing of vote totals being an "essential element" to a ballot vote, I do not see that occurring in the general case.  The society could, as a motion related to methods of voting (p. 283, ll. 9-11), adopt the following motion, "The vote on this resolution shall be by ballot, but the actual vote count shall not be announced."  That is consistent with  PL, Q & A 195 (pp. 480).   I can think of at least one case where it could be desirable.

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13 minutes ago, J. J. said:

Well, the bylaw says, "The officers shall be elected by ballot to serve for one year or until there successors are elected, and their terms of office shall begin at the close of the annual meeting at which they are elected (p. 585, ll. 25-28)."   I see nothing in that bylaw specifically that says, "The vote totals shall be reported."   I am not saying that the requirement is in the bylaws, only that it is not specified in the clause that you quote.

Nor do you see anything in that bylaw specifically saying that the votes are to be anonymous or that they are to be counted, but this is nevertheless the case.

 

13 minutes ago, J. J. said:

As to the announcing of vote totals being an "essential element" to a ballot vote, I do not see that occurring in the general case.  The society could, as a motion related to methods of voting (p. 283, ll. 9-11), adopt the following motion, "The vote on this resolution shall be by ballot, but the actual vote count shall not be announced."

No, not if the bylaws require a ballot vote.

 

14 minutes ago, J. J. said:

That is consistent with  PL, Q & A 195 (pp. 480).   I can think of at least one case where it could be desirable.

That Q&A is very general in nature, and it is a mistake to read it as referring to a situation in which the bylaws mandate a ballot vote. But if it does, it makes no effort to negate the fact that the only way for the assembly to decide that the tellers need not give a full report, or account for every vote, would be to amend the bylaws.

 

33 minutes ago, J. J. said:

I can think of at least one case where it could be desirable.

I doubt it, but even if so, it's irrelevant.

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Nor do you see anything in that bylaw specifically saying that the votes are to be anonymous or that they are to be counted, but this is nevertheless the case.

 

No, not if the bylaws require a ballot vote.

 

That Q&A is very general in nature, and it is a mistake to read it as referring to a situation in which the bylaws mandate a ballot vote. But if it does, it makes no effort to negate the fact that the only way for the assembly to decide that the tellers need not give a full report, or account for every vote, would be to amend the bylaws.

 

I doubt it, but even if so, it's irrelevant.

I am speaking of the general case, and I see nothing that would prevent the the assembly from ordering a ballot vote, on a resolution, and from also ordering that the count not be reported.  That is not coming close to a ballot vote on an election, but is the general case.   Can you point to anything in RONR that indicates that?

Now, since you said, "No, not if the bylaws require a ballot vote," can you cite, in the sample bylaw, where it that states, clearly, that when a ballot is taken in the election, the vote totals must be announced?  I see nothing in the sample bylaws that says that clearly.  I am not saying, at this point, that because there is nothing that it is not the case, but only if the bylaws say, in so many words, that the count is required.  

 

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Perhaps this will help you understand the  question.  If you were to ask me where, in the same sample bylaws, that it says proxy voting is prohibited, I would say that there is no place in those bylaws that says proxy voting is prohibited.  That does not mean that I think proxy voting is, or could be, permitted (unless required by statute).    :)     It is simply that the express wording does not exist. 

 

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2 hours ago, J. J. said:

Perhaps this will help you understand the  question.  If you were to ask me where, in the same sample bylaws, that it says proxy voting is prohibited, I would say that there is no place in those bylaws that says proxy voting is prohibited.  That does not mean that I think proxy voting is, or could be, permitted (unless required by statute).    :)     It is simply that the express wording does not exist. 

 

But the Sample Bylaws Article VIII states that RONR is the parliamentary authority. Therefore, proxy voting is not permitted unless the bylaws or statute require it. The express wording does exist.

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1 hour ago, Ann Rempel said:

But the Sample Bylaws Article VIII states that RONR is the parliamentary authority. Therefore, proxy voting is not permitted unless the bylaws or statute require it. The express wording does exist.

Yes, the express wording about RONR "elevating itself" to a bylaw level rule does exist, but I take issue with it.  When a statute says proxy voting shall be allowed unless prohibited in the bylaws, I take that to mean exactly what it says:  The prohibition must be in the bylaws and it is not sufficient for it to be in the parliamentary authority that is trying to elevate itself to a bylaws level rule in that regard.

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2 hours ago, Ann Rempel said:

But the Sample Bylaws Article VIII states that RONR is the parliamentary authority. Therefore, proxy voting is not permitted unless the bylaws or statute require it. The express wording does exist.

Ann, the question was where, in the sample bylaws, is that express wording. 

Also note that I specifically exempted a statutory requirement.

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If the bylaws are silent about proxy voting and RONR is the parliamentary authority, proxy voting is prohibited (unless authorized by statute, of course). The Sample Bylaws state that RONR is the parliamentary authority. Therefore, no proxy voting. Period.

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