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Guest Bob W

Withdrawal of a second

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If a motion is seconded and discussion ensues, can the second be withdrawn by the person who seconded the motion? I ask this question in the context of the following:

I made a motion. The Chairperson seconded the motion. The Chairperson asked me to amend my motion with the Chairperson's recommended changes. I suggested to the Chairperson that my motion should be voted on first and then the Chairperson could make another motion with their proposed action which was not in conflict with my motion. The Chairperson then said "I withdraw my second". No other members were solicited for their discussion by the Chairperson during the previous discussion before the withdrawal of the second. The Chairperson then said "your motion failed for lack of a second". The Chairperson did not solicit other Members to second the motion after the Chairperson withdrew the second. The Chairperson then made a motion identical to my motion with the changes that the Chairperson wanted in the motion. The motion was seconded and passed.

Did my motion fail for lack of a second? I don't think so. Either because a second cannot be withdrawn or because the Chairperson did not solicit other Members for a second to my motion before making her own motion.

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If a motion is seconded and discussion ensues, can the second be withdrawn by the person who seconded the motion? I ask this question in the context of the following:

I made a motion. The Chairperson seconded the motion. The Chairperson asked me to amend my motion with the Chairperson's recommended changes. I suggested to the Chairperson that my motion should be voted on first and then the Chairperson could make another motion with their proposed action which was not in conflict with my motion. The Chairperson then said "I withdraw my second". No other members were solicited for their discussion by the Chairperson during the previous discussion before the withdrawal of the second. The Chairperson then said "your motion failed for lack of a second". The Chairperson did not solicit other Members to second the motion after the Chairperson withdrew the second. The Chairperson then made a motion identical to my motion with the changes that the Chairperson wanted in the motion. The motion was seconded and passed.

Did my motion fail for lack of a second? I don't think so. Either because a second cannot be withdrawn or because the Chairperson did not solicit other Members for a second to my motion before making her own motion.

How large is the assembly/group? If fewer than about a dozen, then the RONR rules say that seconds are not needed for motions. If larger, then the Chairman should not be seconding motions (or making them, for that matter). Suggest the hairman read RONRIB.

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The chair should not be seconding motions, but once debate has begun, a second cannot be withdrawn and the lack of a second is immaterial.

See RONR (10th ed.), p. 35, l. 29-32.

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The chair should not be seconding motions, but once debate has begun, a second cannot be withdrawn and the lack of a second is immaterial.

Agreeing that the Chair should not be seconding motions I am not so sure that debate really started. It sounded like the Chair seconded the motion for the purpose of requesting a modification to the motion which was refused. That being said I am not certain if the Chair should then be permitted to withdraw the second. RONR does say that the seconder can withdraw it if the modification (suggested by someone else) was accepted. However, I don't see why the second can't be withdrawn prior to debate starting when the second clearly (to me) was made for the purpose of requesting the modification and the modification was declined.

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The assembly/group is a Homeowners Association Board of 7 Board Members. There were 6 Board Members present at the meeting.

Then seconds aren't required to start off with (RONR pp. 470-471).

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We've run our meetings for years requiring a second for all motions even though the group is only 7 members. I think most Homeowner's Association (HOA) Boards operate this way even though they have less than 12 members. Also, many times the Chairperson (HOA Board President) makes motions in addition to other Board Members making motions.

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The amendment that the Chairperson wanted to my motion was to exclude a specific contractor from the bidding for the work that the motion was proposing. When asked to include the exclusion of the contractor in my motion I said "I would leave that to the discretion of our Management Company". Then the Chairperson withdrew their second, said my motion failed for lack of a second without polling the other Members for another second to my motion, and made her own motion identical to mine adding the exclusion of the specific contractor. That motion was seconded and passed.

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Whether HOA's (and Bob W's in particular) require seconds at meetings, or their custom of requiring them applies, it seems to me there was some hanky-panky on the Chair's part in how he handled things. I'd say that what we're left with after the dust settles is whether there is a continuing breach here, or does the decision of the Board -- to approve the Chair's motion after he essentially prevented Bob W's motion from coming before the assembly -- stand?

Since the Chair's motion passed, it doesn't seem that enough of the members had an objection to the changes offered in it, and probably would have adopted the amendment (to strike) had it been offered properly anyway. So maybe it's just a "let it go" moment, but pay attention for next time.

Edited by David A Foulkes

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In order to proceed with our meeting at the time this happened, I didn't challenge the Chairperson at the time except to ask the question "My motion failed for lack of a second?" with a surprised look on my face. I then seconded the Chairperson's motion to get the matter over with so we could move on to the next agenda item. When our minutes which are kept by a recording secretary are approved at our next meeting, however, I will probably not vote for approval of any minutes that read that my motion failed for lack of a second.

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In order to proceed with our meeting at the time this happened, I didn't challenge the Chairperson at the time except to ask the question "My motion failed for lack of a second?" with a surprised look on my face. I then seconded the Chairperson's motion to get the matter over with so we could move on to the next agenda item. When our minutes which are kept by a recording secretary are approved at our next meeting, however, I will probably not vote for approval of any minutes that read that my motion failed for lack of a second.

Your motion DID fail for lack of a second as far as the minutes are concerned, because that was clearly the ruling of the chair, and no appeal was made.

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Agreeing that the Chair should not be seconding motions I am not so sure that debate really started.

The original post says, "discussion ensues." I take that to mean debate.

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The original post says, "discussion ensues." I take that to mean debate.

Normally I consider discussion and debate to be the same thing. However, in this case reading the whole posting I don't think that what he called "discussion" rose to the level of debate as defined on RONR p. 373 lines 12-15. Of course since no timely Point of Order was raised theYSYL doctrine applies.

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Thank you all for your replies. Actually it was another Board member who seconded the Chairperson's motion not me. I did vote yes for the Chairperson's motion. Perhaps Tim Wynn is correct that my motion did fail for lack of second because that is what the Chairperson ruled. Instead of asking the question "My motion failed for lack of a second" I should have said "I have a question of order - I appeal from the decision of the chair". What's supposed to happen next the way I understand it is my appeal must be seconded and the Chairperson states "Shall the decision of the chair stand as the judgement of the Assembly?" If I would have raised the question of order at the time I don't know that our Chairperson would have known to have handled it that way. It would have been far more expedient if the Chairperson would have polled the other Members if there was another second to my motion before stating that my motion failed for lack of a second.

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Certainly it's a valid point that's made about the size of the group and formal procedures not being needed. But since they did it that way, it seems to me it's a let it go moment, as mentioned above. If the chair proposed an amendment (admittedly in an awkward way) I don't see that Bob has any right to stop it. If the discussion had ensued, and the main motion is before the assembly, an amendment would be in order, would it not. The original post states:

that my motion should be voted on first and then the Chairperson could make another motion with their proposed action which was not in conflict with my motion.

which seems to me to be inappropriate. So all around it was handled clumsily, but as noted above, the chair's ruling was that id died for lack of a second, nobody complained, and the chair's other motion passed. Certainly the option to amend that motion was available to Bob and others, and they didn't. Time to move on as it seems the motion the assembly preferred was passed.

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The proposed minutes for our recording secretary read: "After discussion, (name of Chairperson) withdrew her motion. The motion then failed for lack of a second." So since there was discussion, the Chairperson should not have been able to withdraw her motion. Since no point of order was raised, however, I suppose that withdrawal stands as well as the failure of my motion for lack of a second.

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As much as this seems to have been mishandled, no one raised a Point of Order challenging the Chair, and I don't see that a continuing breach exists, so I'd say it's a done deal. Lesson learned, hopefully. If you'd like to pursue it, at the next meeting you can move to Amend Something Previously Adopted (ASPA) and, if adopted, add that contractor to the list of candidates, assuming it's not too late. See Section 35 in RONR 10th Edition for details on ASPA.

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If you'd like to pursue it, at the next meeting you can move to Amend Something Previously Adopted (ASPA) and, if adopted, add that contractor to the list of candidates, assuming it's not too late. See Section 35 in RONR 10th Edition for details on ASPA.

...And make sure you get someone to second the motion. <_< Also, since it requires a higher voting requirement then when a motion was originally adopted make sure you get as many members on your side as possible.

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Yes, it's a done deal. Lessons learned for me are: Inform Chairperson that seconds cannot be withdrawn after discussion has ensued; inform Chairperson that other Board members should be polled for a second prior to stating that a motion has failed for lack of a second; and to inform Board members to raise a point of order should similar events occur in future meetings.

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I have the 1982 version of Robert's Rules of Order. Does it state in RONR 10th edition that seconds can't be withdrawn once there is discussion?

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I have the 1982 version of Robert's Rules of Order. Does it state in RONR 10th edition that seconds can't be withdrawn once there is discussion?

Yes, sort-a. Once a motion is made, and seconded if necessary, the Chair is obligated to either rule it out of order or "state the question" (step 3 in the 6-step process of handling a motion), meaning he repeats the motion as made to the assembly so they know what they will be debating. After the Chair states the question, it belongs to the assembly from there on (they own it), and as such the second cannot be withdrawn but it's also irrelevant by then.

There is a small window before the Chair states the question where a member, after being recognized, can make a suggestion to the motion maker to alter his motion in some way (kind of like the Chairman asked you to change your motion). If the maker agrees, the seconder then has that opportunity to withdraw his second, however it too is fairly irrelevant at that time, as the member who has suggested the change that the maker agreed to has effectively seconded this "new" motion. So it's all a done deal.

Section 4 (RONR 10th Ed.) with a special look at page 35 will cover many of the details involved.

Edited by David A Foulkes

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Yes, it's a done deal. Lessons learned for me are: Inform Chairperson that seconds cannot be withdrawn after discussion has ensued; inform Chairperson that other Board members should be polled for a second prior to stating that a motion has failed for lack of a second; and to inform Board members to raise a point of order should similar events occur in future meetings.

Hopefully, also, that as a maker of a motion, once it's before the assembly, it's really not up to you to "disallow" amendments.

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Yes, I understand that it's not up to a maker of a motion to disallow amendments. My understanding is that amendments to a motion before the assembly must be motioned and voted on themselves and then the amended motion would then be voted on. To simplify matters it would have been more expedient in my opinion to just take the proposed amendment in this case as another motion after my motion had been considered.

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To simplify matters it would have been more expedient in my opinion to just take the proposed amendment in this case as another motion after my motion had been considered.

The problem here would have been that, if your motion were adopted, the Chair's (oh so very similar motion) would have been out of order as a main motion. (p. 106 l. 26-31; p. 332 l. 19-22) It would have had to be moved as Amend Something Previously Adopted, which (because there would not have been adequate time for notice) would have required a 2/3 vote to pass. It might have gotten it, but it adds a wrinkle that might have been improperly ironed out, judging from how bungled the whole episode was handled to begin with.

------------------------

Also, see Chris H's post below. ^_^

Edited by David A Foulkes

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The problem here would have been that, if your motion were adopted, the Chair's (oh so very similar motion) would have been out of order as a main motion. (p. 332 l. 19-22) It would have had to be moved as Amend Something Previously Adopted, which (because there would not have been adequate time for notice) would have required a 2/3 vote to pass.

...Or a majority of the entire membership (of the Board) which since there are only 7 Board members that would probably be the easiest vote to get

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