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Guest Mike Silver

Deviating from bylaws

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Guest Mike Silver

Is it ever permissible to deviate from by law provisions without a vote to suspend the rules?

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Guest Mike Silver

Recently in selecting a new deacon, my church abandoned the selection process prescribed in the church by-laws. Per the rules, it is the responsibility of congregation members to nominate potential deacon candidates, who are then vetted by the Deacon Board to insure they meet the requirements to serve. Qualified candidates are then presented to the congregation for selection by vote (majority or plurality depending on the number of position vacancies). In the instance in question, the Deacon Board selected a candidate to fill a single vacancy and presented him to the church for a vote of approval. When during the process a parliamentary question was raised regarding the deviation from church by-laws, explanation was given that the same scenario had been utilized previously, thus setting a precedent which thereafter rendered the applicable provisions in the church by-laws non-binding. Subsequent research revealed no evidence of previous by-law deviation in this regard. Thanks to all for any insight or comments.

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This is, indeed, a violation of your bylaws.  Precedents do not matter--recurring breaches are not allowed.  It's up to the congregation to nominate potential deacons, not the board.

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Recently in selecting a new deacon, my church abandoned the selection process prescribed in the church by-laws. Per the rules, it is the responsibility of congregation members to nominate potential deacon candidates, who are then vetted by the Deacon Board to insure they meet the requirements to serve. Qualified candidates are then presented to the congregation for selection by vote (majority or plurality depending on the number of position vacancies). In the instance in question, the Deacon Board selected a candidate to fill a single vacancy and presented him to the church for a vote of approval. When during the process a parliamentary question was raised regarding the deviation from church by-laws, explanation was given that the same scenario had been utilized previously, thus setting a precedent which thereafter rendered the applicable provisions in the church by-laws non-binding. Subsequent research revealed no evidence of previous by-law deviation in this regard. Thanks to all for any insight or comments.

 

I may be a lone wolf here, but the deviation seems to be in the nomination process, and in the end, the assembly did have the opportunity to decline to elect this person.  Is that right?  If so, while the rules regarding nominations may have been violated, I don't think it creates a continuing breach of the rules,  unless some other rules weren't followed that we don't know about.

 

The stuff about the bylaws being non-binding because a rule wasn't followed in the past is nonsense.

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I may be a lone wolf here, but the deviation seems to be in the nomination process, and in the end, the assembly did have the opportunity to decline to elect this person.  Is that right?

 

Well, when "the Deacon Board selected a candidate to fill a single vacancy and presented him to the church for a vote of approval" the opportunity to select/elect someone else may not have been as obvious to the assembly as it is to us. But I agree that the breach is not continuing (recurring?) so you're not a lone wolf.

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Guest Mike silverp

There is also a question regarding the voting process. Church by-laws require deacon selection vote to be by "secret ballot." A palementary question was raised when the moderator initially attempted to conduct a vote by a show of hands. After discussion and a subsequent motion, the church voted by a show of hands to suspend the rules and allowed the deacon selection vote to proceed via a show of hands vote.

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Church by-laws require deacon selection vote to be by "secret ballot." 

 

This rule can never be suspended.

 

Edited to add: Shame on those who raised their hands to give up their right (or, more likely, the rights of others) to a secret vote.

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I agree that the vote taken by a show of hands is a continuing breach, since the bylaws require a ballot, but is that sufficient to invalidate the election? Presumably, the purpose of taking vote by "secret ballot" is to allow people to hide their vote. Since the vote has been taken, there is no way make secret what has already been revealed.

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I agree that the vote taken by a show of hands is a continuing breach, since the bylaws require a ballot, but is that sufficient to invalidate the election?

 

If you agree there's a continuing breech of the rules by not taking a ballot vote when required (and you should believe that), "In all such cases, it is never too late to raise a point of order since any action so taken is null and void."  RONR (11th ed.), p. 251

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Guest Mike Silver

It is not my intent to overturn the actions already taken, but to, in a concerned and diplomatic manner, call attention to the breach of rules that occurred, in an attempt to insure the same does not happen in the future. It is truely my desire that business in my church be conducted "decently and in order."

Thanks to all for your comments and the insight you shared in your responses.

God Bless!

 

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If you agree there's a continuing breech of the rules by not taking a ballot vote when required (and you should believe that), "In all such cases, it is never too late to raise a point of order since any action so taken is null and void."  RONR (11th ed.), p. 251

 

I agree that it is a continuing breach, but to what degree? It is possible that some people didn't vote or voted with the majority because they didn't want people to see that they were opposed. If there is a significant number of people who did that, then the breach is significant and should invalidate the vote. But if there is only a few and those votes wouldn't change the outcome then it doesn't make sense to vote again, even though one of those people would not be wrong in raising a point of order.

 

 

It is not my intent to overturn the actions already taken, but to, in a concerned and diplomatic manner, call attention to the breach of rules that occurred, in an attempt to insure the same does not happen in the future. It is truely my desire that business in my church be conducted "decently and in order."

Thanks to all for your comments and the insight you shared in your responses.

God Bless!

 

I understand, I've been there (am there) frequently. What I would suggest is that you buy your moderator lunch and discuss your concerns away from the busy church environment.

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I agree that it is a continuing breach, but to what degree? It is possible that some people didn't vote or voted with the majority because they didn't want people to see that they were opposed. If there is a significant number of people who did that, then the breach is significant and should invalidate the vote. But if there is only a few and those votes wouldn't change the outcome then it doesn't make sense to vote again, even though one of those people would not be wrong in raising a point of order.

 

 

Where does all this nonsense come from?

 

When a rule in the bylaws requiring that a vote be taken by ballot is violated, any action so taken is null and void (RONR, 11th ed., p. 251).

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Where does all this nonsense come from?

 

When a rule in the bylaws requiring that a vote be taken by ballot is violated, any action so taken is null and void (RONR, 11th ed., p. 251).

 

And hence my question. In a case like this, it appears that the result of the ballot vote (if it is taken) is already known, the person who might raise a point of order isn't necessarily opposed to the outcome of the vote, and any hope of secrecy is lost. At this point, taking a ballot vote is doing nothing but going through the motions. So, is there some means by which they could dispense with the busywork, or do they have go back and do it over?

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And hence my question. In a case like this, it appears that the result of the ballot vote (if it is taken) is already known, the person who might raise a point of order isn't necessarily opposed to the outcome of the vote, and any hope of secrecy is lost. At this point, taking a ballot vote is doing nothing but going through the motions. So, is there some means by which they could dispense with the busywork, or do they have go back and do it over?

If the motion is null and void (as RONR says), doing whatver it takes to correct the error is not just "going thorugh the motions." And who's to say that the outcome of ths vote would not have been different if the vote had been by ballot? Some people may have chosen to abstain rather than reveal their true sentiments. Or some may have voted opposite to what they would have in a ballot vite, to avoid offending a friend. Regardless, the election was null and void, and a Point of Order to that effect should be rulled well-taken and the election then done properly.

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. . . do they have go back and do it over?

They're not doing it over, they're doing it right for the first time.

 

If they get away with this who knows what they'll try to get away with next time. Maybe they'll let non-members vote.

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There is also a question regarding the voting process. Church by-laws require deacon selection vote to be by "secret ballot." A palementary question was raised when the moderator initially attempted to conduct a vote by a show of hands. After discussion and a subsequent motion, the church voted by a show of hands to suspend the rules and allowed the deacon selection vote to proceed via a show of hands vote.

Absolutely prohibited.  The show of hands, the vote to have a show of hands, and the discussion itself were all out of order.

 

Such a rule can never be suspended, not even by a unanimous vote!

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And who's to say that the outcome of ths vote would not have been different if the vote had been by ballot? Some people may have chosen to abstain rather than reveal their true sentiments. Or some may have voted opposite to what they would have in a ballot vite, to avoid offending a friend.

 

I can agree that abstentions may be such that the vote would've been different, but anyone looking around the room would've had a good idea of whether the abstentions were significant enough to swing the vote. As for people voting opposite what they wanted, that would be the same as lying. If people are lying during a church business meeting, they ought to lose their vote. So, it seems to me that the outcome of the show of hands tells us what the result of the ballot vote would be, even though it was improper.

 

If they get away with this who knows what they'll try to get away with next time. Maybe they'll let non-members vote.

 

Good point.

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I can agree that abstentions may be such that the vote would've been different, but anyone looking around the room would've had a good idea of whether the abstentions were significant enough to swing the vote. As for people voting opposite what they wanted, that would be the same as lying. If people are lying during a church business meeting, they ought to lose their vote. So, it seems to me that the outcome of the show of hands tells us what the result of the ballot vote would be, even though it was improper.

Give it up, Timothy. Whether you agree with it or not, the rule is clear. The initial vote by show of hands was null and void. The only way to fix the error is to do it over, and do it right this time.

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 same as lying. If people are lying during a church business meeting, they ought to lose their vote. 

 

Admirable point.  Where were you when the Inquisition needed you?  And you got an RONR citation for this?

 

Give it up, Timothy. Whether you agree with it or not, the rule is clear. The initial vote by show of hands was null and void. The only way to fix the error is to do it over, and do it right this time.

 

I rarely agree with retired lawyers or Lithuanians, but c'mon.  Give it up, Timothy.

 

(But I agree with Mr Merritt when I know what's good for me, like now.

 

(Also this thread gives me the opportunity to disagree with deviants, which is refreshing.  But I've lost track of which side is the deviants here.  Maybe I'll flip a coin.)

Edited by Gary c Tesser

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Give it up, Timothy. Whether you agree with it or not, the rule is clear. The initial vote by show of hands was null and void. The only way to fix the error is to do it over, and do it right this time.

 

I thought I had.

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Guest Peter

In the end, the bylaws are worth the paper they are printed on.  If those in power wish to usurp more power, the people have little options to stop it and if the majority sides with them, nothing can be done.

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In the end, the bylaws are worth the paper they are printed on.  If those in power wish to usurp more power, the people have little options to stop it and if the majority sides with them, nothing can be done.

If that were true, the entire section on debate would never have been included in the Work.

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In the end, the bylaws are worth the paper they are printed on.  If those in power wish to usurp more power, the people have little options to stop it and if the majority sides with them, nothing can be done.

 

Not true. Though the minority's only recourse might be to hire an attorney.

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