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Joshua Katz

Suspension of write-in prohibition

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Suppose an organization's bylaws specify that nominations take place one month before the election (at a monthly meeting), that the election be by ballot, and that no write-ins are permitted.  It is proposed, at the election meeting, to suspend the rules and count write-in votes.

Since it is about the conduct of an election, that looks like a rule of order.  However, does it protect absentees, since a member may have decided "yes, all those nominees are acceptable to me, so I will stay home?"  

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46 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

However, does it protect absentees, since a member may have decided "yes, all those nominees are acceptable to me, so I will stay home?"  

How would you argue no?

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57 minutes ago, Gary c Tesser said:

How would you argue no?

If it's suspendable, then they should say "yes, all those nominees are acceptable to me, but I won't stay home, because maybe it will be suspended," so it's not clear any greater protection is actually given this way.

Also, it seems like an odd thing to protect them from.  

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On 6/7/2017 at 5:18 PM, Joshua Katz said:

Suppose an organization's bylaws specify that nominations take place one month before the election (at a monthly meeting), that the election be by ballot, and that no write-ins are permitted.  It is proposed, at the election meeting, to suspend the rules and count write-in votes.

Since it is about the conduct of an election, that looks like a rule of order.  However, does it protect absentees, since a member may have decided "yes, all those nominees are acceptable to me, so I will stay home?"  

The society will need to determine whether this rule was, in fact, intended to protect absentees.

The facts you've specified so far don't appear to include any notice requirement.

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On 6/7/2017 at 6:18 PM, Joshua Katz said:

Suppose an organization's bylaws specify that nominations take place one month before the election (at a monthly meeting), that the election be by ballot, and that no write-ins are permitted.  It is proposed, at the election meeting, to suspend the rules and count write-in votes.

Since it is about the conduct of an election, that looks like a rule of order.  However, does it protect absentees, since a member may have decided "yes, all those nominees are acceptable to me, so I will stay home?"  

How do you figure that a bylaw provision making votes for certain candidates illegal is in the nature of a rule of order -- that it is among those rules that "relate to the orderly transaction of business in meetings and to the duties of officers in that connection" (RONR, 11th ed., p. 15, ll. 9-11)?

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6 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

It relates to the conduct of elections, which are business transacted in meetings.

By that standard, all rules relating to the election of officers could be suspended, which is obviously not the case. A rule that makes a candidate ineligible for election by write-in is not merely a rule of order, although it might not be very effective in substance unless combined with a limitation on the ability to reopen nominations.

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Maybe this is outside the RONR discussion but if you told me I couldn't vote for a write-in candidate and then changed the rules to count the votes of people who didn't follow the rules I would be really upset as a member.

On a RONR note, I don't think you can suspend the rules in an election after votes have been cast to change how you are going to count votes. I mean if the bylaws requires a majority vote, could you suspend it after the votes were cast to make it only a plurality?

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24 minutes ago, SaintCad said:

On a RONR note, I don't think you can suspend the rules in an election after votes have been cast to change how you are going to count votes. I mean if the bylaws requires a majority vote, could you suspend it after the votes were cast to make it only a plurality?

No, for several reasons - but this was a motion before voting started.

To clarify, it wasn't "we wrote people in, now count them," it was a motion just before voting started, to allow write-ins.  I would think it would still make people angry, though, particularly since it is so easy to self-nominate.

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On 6/9/2017 at 2:22 PM, Shmuel Gerber said:

By that standard, all rules relating to the election of officers could be suspended, which is obviously not the case. A rule that makes a candidate ineligible for election by write-in is not merely a rule of order, although it might not be very effective in substance unless combined with a limitation on the ability to reopen nominations.

It  would depend on how the rule/bylaw was written.

I would treat a rule, "That write-in votes shall not be credited," differently than "Only persons nominated shall be eligible to hold the office of ____."

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On ‎6‎/‎9‎/‎2017 at 2:22 PM, Shmuel Gerber said:

By that standard, all rules relating to the election of officers could be suspended, which is obviously not the case. A rule that makes a candidate ineligible for election by write-in is not merely a rule of order, although it might not be very effective in substance unless combined with a limitation on the ability to reopen nominations.

 

6 hours ago, J. J. said:

It  would depend on how the rule/bylaw was written.

I would treat a rule, "That write-in votes shall not be credited," differently than "Only persons nominated shall be eligible to hold the office of ____."

Mr. Katz posited a situation in which the bylaws specify "that no write-ins are permitted". I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Gerber that such a provision makes a candidate ineligible for election by write-in, but only Mr. Katz has read these bylaws in their entirety, and so maybe we should ask him. :)

In any event. I also agree with Mr. Gerber when he says that, even if this provision means what it says and makes write-in candidates ineligible for election, it won't be very effective unless combined with an effective prohibition against nominations from the floor. A combination of the two, however, can be deadly.

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14 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

 

Mr. Katz posited a situation in which the bylaws specify "that no write-ins are permitted". I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Gerber that such a provision makes a candidate ineligible for election by write-in, but only Mr. Katz has read these bylaws in their entirety, and so maybe we should ask him. :)

In any event. I also agree with Mr. Gerber when he says that, even if this provision means what it says and makes write-in candidates ineligible for election, it won't be very effective unless combined with an effective prohibition against nominations from the floor. A combination of the two, however, can be deadly.

I do believe that rule could be not suspended, and the "election" of someone by write-in votes would be null and void, but I might not consider saying that the person is "ineligible" to be elected.   Looking at Mr. Gerber's response, he might not be saying that either.   It might be more of a semantic argument. 

In addition, there might be several different grounds for why write-ins could not be credited.

On the second point, yes, this would create a "deadly" combination if there was a rule against nominations from the floor.

Edited by J. J.
Closing quotes before Gary tells me to.

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3 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Mr. Katz posited a situation in which the bylaws specify "that no write-ins are permitted". I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Gerber that such a provision makes a candidate ineligible for election by write-in, but only Mr. Katz has read these bylaws in their entirety, and so maybe we should ask him. :)

 

I have read the entirety of the bylaws, but it's been several years since I did so.  They weren't all that clear on many things.  They did not contain an explicit provision against reopening nominations from the floor.  However, the time it came up (several years ago) the people involved did not want to reopen nominations, they specifically wanted to write in their nominee, and had not told people outside their group who the nominee was, presumably so that people couldn't campaign against them and break off some members of their group.  The bylaws allowed for election by a plurality.

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23 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

I have read the entirety of the bylaws, but it's been several years since I did so.  They weren't all that clear on many things.  They did not contain an explicit provision against reopening nominations from the floor.  However, the time it came up (several years ago) the people involved did not want to reopen nominations, they specifically wanted to write in their nominee, and had not told people outside their group who the nominee was, presumably so that people couldn't campaign against them and break off some members of their group.  The bylaws allowed for election by a plurality.

So what happened?

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6 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

So what happened?

I told them (by phone) that in my opinion it wasn't permitted to allow write-in votes.  I'm now (about a year later) wondering if I was right.  From the answers, it seems I was, although perhaps for the wrong reason, and I could have mentioned that nominations could be reopened.  

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13 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

I told them (by phone) that in my opinion it wasn't permitted to allow write-in votes.  I'm now (about a year later) wondering if I was right.  From the answers, it seems I was, although perhaps for the wrong reason, and I could have mentioned that nominations could be reopened.  

Well, I'm quite sure I would have told them the same thing.

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On 6/7/2017 at 3:18 PM, Joshua Katz said:

Suppose [...] that no write-ins are permitted.

It is common (really, it is mandatory) that, in labor unions, no "dark horse" candidates can ever be allowed, under any circumstance.

The nomination process is tightly controlled, never mind the act of casting ballots.

You may look up the history of labor unions (19th and 20th century), to see as to why such is the case.

***

If this organization is labor-related, then such an election rule is due a federal requirement, and not due to any consideration of tellers convenience.

 

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8 hours ago, Kim Goldsworthy said:

If this organization is labor-related, then such an election rule is due a federal requirement, and not due to any consideration of tellers convenience.

 

It was not a labor union.

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I'm a couple of weeks late to this discussion, but I would also interpret the rule as being one which cannot be suspended. It strikes me as being essentially a requirement for holding office, i.e., a person must have been nominated in order to serve.  Another factor I'm considering, which I don't believe anyone else mentioned, is that nominations are debatable.  If the person is nominated, members might point out in debate why he is not the best candidate and possibly dissuade some members who had initially been in on the secret plan to elect him by means of write in votes.  On the other hand, being officially nominated might cause him to get even more votes.  :wacko:  In the end, I think the rule cannot be suspended.

I also agree with the following post by J.J.that he made early on in this discussion:

On 6/11/2017 at 10:35 PM, J. J. said:

It  would depend on how the rule/bylaw was written.

I would treat a rule, "That write-in votes shall not be credited," differently than "Only persons nominated shall be eligible to hold the office of ____."

 

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28 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

  If the person is nominated, members might point out in debate why he is not the best candidate and possibly dissuade some members who had initially been in on the secret plan to elect him by means of write in votes. 

I believe this is another reason the people pushing the plan did not wish to nominate him.

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