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Voting on Corrections to the Minutes

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If a member proposes that the minutes be corrected (at the time of their approval) by striking out the tellers’ report from an election, and another member objects, does the correction require a two-thirds vote? PL says that “anything that the rules require to be in the minutes cannot be struck out, except by a two-thirds vote” (q. 248, p. 499), but RONR includes all corrections under the usual rules for amendment, i.e., majority vote ([11th ed.], p. 354, ll. 30-33).

If a two-thirds vote is required to strike a tellers’ report, would it also be required to strike something more mundane, such as the name of the maker of a main motion?

Similarly, what vote is required to correct the minutes by inserting something that RONR says should never be in the minutes, such as the secretary’s opinion, or something more mundane, such as a brief summary of a guest speaker’s remarks?

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When the minutes are pending approval and a member proposes a correction, it will take a majority vote to decide the matter if anyone objects to the correction.

That said, a teller's report should never be stricken from the minutes as it's an essential element of a vote taken by ballot.

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I agree with Mr. Mervosh that, regardless, the rules in RONR will govern and a majority vote is required.  However, I am curious - what do we do with that line from PL?  (I have to admit, it would be nice to have a higher threshold for the insertion of nonsense into the minutes than for its deletion...)

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I agree with Mr. Mervosh and Mr. Katz.  In my opinion, the current language in RONR is controlling.  As to the question of what we are to do with the answer to question 248 in RONR Parliamentary Law I imagine that anything in that answer that conflicts with the current rule in RONR should simply be ignored.  I guess those of us who have a copy of Parliamentary Law can draw a line through that part of the answer and maybe make a notation to the citation in RONR.

Edited by Richard Brown
Corrected mistake in the third sentence

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I would guess that he viewed it as a suspension of the rules, which is interesting.  I think it absolutely should take more than a majority vote to remove a tellers report from minutes which are pending approval.  

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Interestingly, the citation to page 247 of ROR provided by General Robert in response to question 248 in Parliamentary Law does not make reference to a two thirds vote being required to strike out something which the rules require to be in the minutes.  I don't see where that point is made in either ROR or in the 11th edition of RONR.  RONR simply makes reference to the usual method of handling amendments to main motions when making corrections to the minutes.   As pwwilson stated in his original post, that's by majority vote.

I agree with George that General Robert possibly looked at omitting something required by the rules to be in the minutes as amounting to a suspension of the rules, but nothing in either ROR or RONR directly supports that contention.  To the contrary, RONR seems to say rather clearly that corrections to the minutes can be made by majority vote.

Perhaps, as George stated, omitting something from the minutes (such as a tellers report) which the rules require to be in the minutes should require a two thirds vote, but I don't see anything in RONR which says that it must be by a two thirds vote.

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O Richard, our first quarrel.

I think it should be understood that normal corrections address matters of substance, not procedure (e.g., the meeting actually recessed at 2:43, to meet at the call of the chair, and not, as the secretary's draft has it, at 2:47, for ten minutes. Or, it was Mr Brown who moved to rent beach balls to adorn the orchid exhibition, not Mr Tesser, who subversively favors buying a few dozen M-80's, to be introduced during dull parts of the botanists's presentations, because it's so disruptive and disquieting to set beach balls on fire -- OK, I'll say it, unseemly, uncouth, louche, or both).

I'm going to let that part go, so as to think about it some more, or to hope that George does (as it is said, let George do it).  Let's try the scenario. A member, let's call him Stuart, proposes correcting the minutes by striking out the tellers's report.  The chair, although uneasy because something's nudging at the back of his head and it's not playful mischievious Mr Brown this time, can't put his finger on it, and simply asks for objections.  Mr Mervosh, per Post 4 or so, rises to say that not only does he object to the proposed egregious correction, but that he raises the point of order.  I submit that the point of order is well-taken, and that the chair should so rule (and I'm even toying with not tolerating an appeal, maybe not due to the merits but because I'm so worked up and I'm so woefully behind on my post-count; although that would waste time, because that choice iteslf would be appealed, since Stuart, or any of his cronies or acolytes or Renfields, would insist that there are other reasonable opinions, since they have them).

In short (or "in other words," I'm not sure which is better, someone please advise), a correction to the minutes that violates the rules of order must suspend the rules to be valid.

Also:

18 hours ago, George Mervosh said:

... a teller's report should never be stricken from the minutes as it's an essential element of a vote taken by ballot.

... And so maybe it would take more than just suspending the rules.

Edited by Gary c Tesser
tinkering

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3 hours ago, Gary c Tesser said:

... And so maybe it would take more than just suspending the rules.

After thinking about this for a while, I'm not sure it would be in order at all to strike the tellers report from the minutes when the bylaws require a vote by ballot.

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Perhaps the member whose proposal to strike the tellers’ report from the minutes is objected to needs to move “to suspend the rules and correct the minutes by striking the tellers’ report.” That would accord with the spirit of General Robert’s answer, while following RONR to the letter. If the rule requiring tellers’ reports to be in the minutes ends up being suspended, then striking the tellers’ report can be handled as an ordinary amendment.

If the bylaws require election by ballot, we have the thorny question of whether a tellers’ report is an essential element of a ballot vote. (See this thread.)

To avoid any controversy involving bylaws, perhaps we can focus on the tellers’ report from a vote on a motion that the assembly ordered to be taken by ballot. It seems that the majority who ordered the ballot vote can be overridden by two thirds who wish to suspend the rules regarding which elements of that ballot vote go in the minutes.

Would suspension of the rules be necessary for striking from the minutes the name of the maker of a main motion or for inserting a summary of a guest speaker’s remarks? Would suspension of the rules be sufficient for inserting the secretary’s opinion, which RONR says “the minutes should never reflect”? (p. 468, ll. 18-19).

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1 hour ago, pwilson said:

Would suspension of the rules be necessary for striking from the minutes the name of the maker of a main motion or for inserting a summary of a guest speaker’s remarks? Would suspension of the rules be sufficient for inserting the secretary’s opinion, which RONR says “the minutes should never reflect”? (p. 468, ll. 18-19).

Reflecting on these, I'm inclined to stick with my original answer: none of this is a suspension of the rules, and the vote is a majority as for any amendment.  We adopt RONR, not PL.

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1 hour ago, pwilson said:

 If the rule requiring tellers’ reports to be in the minutes ends up being suspended, then striking the tellers’ report can be handled as an ordinary amendment.

 

If you're thinking that this is a two step process - first suspend the rule, and then move to strike the tellers' report by a majority vote -  that is incorrect. The motion would be stated as "I move to suspend the rules and strike the tellers' report from the minutes..." (p. 262, ll. 1-4). And if your goal is to permanently remove tellers' reports from all future minutes, that would require adopting a special rule of order.

Having said that, I think Mr. Mervosh's point above is well taken.

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1 hour ago, pwilson said:

If the bylaws require election by ballot, we have the thorny question of whether a tellers’ report is an essential element of a ballot vote. (See this thread.)

Just to be clear, in the thread to which reference is made I said that, in my opinion, whenever a rule requires that a vote be counted (such as a rule requiring a ballot vote), counting the votes and reporting that count to the assembly are essential elements of taking such a vote, but I did not go so far as to say that recording the count in the minutes is also an essential element.

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I tend to agree with the answer by Mr. Katz immediately above.  The society presumably adopted RONR, not PL.  Although I understand the statement by general Robert and the rationale expressed by Mr. Mervosh, I don't see a two thirds vote being  required by RONR to omit the tellers report from the minutes. 

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4 hours ago, Bruce Lages said:

If you're thinking that this is a two step process - first suspend the rule, and then move to strike the tellers' report by a majority vote -  that is incorrect. The motion would be stated as "I move to suspend the rules and strike the tellers' report from the minutes..." (p. 262, ll. 1-4).

Thanks for the clarification. I stand corrected.

I'm getting the sense that my original reference to PL is a red herring and that any correction to the minutes, no matter how much it appears to suspend a rule (e.g., striking a tellers' report for a vote ordered to be counted or taken by ballot, inserting the secretary's opinion), is, if objected to, handled as an ordinary amendment--just as RONR says. :)

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I think that, operating under RONR, the is a requirement that the teller's report be entered into the minutes, and that requirement is, in essence, a rule of order.  It would take a 2/3 vote to suspend that rule. 

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I’m still confused about the mechanics:

(1) Is it out of order even to propose striking a tellers’ report from the minutes?

(2) Does such a proposal somehow become out of order only if someone objects to it?

(3) Is a motion “to suspend the rules and strike the tellers’ report from the minutes” debatable?

(4) Are the roughly two dozen items RONR requires to be in the minutes, as well as the handful of items the book says not to include in the minutes, all on the same footing insofar as they require suspension of the rules for any deviation from §48?

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2 minutes ago, pwilson said:

I’m still confused about the mechanics:

(1) Is it out of order even to propose striking a tellers’ report from the minutes?

(2) Does such a proposal somehow become out of order only if someone objects to it?

(3) Is a motion “to suspend the rules and strike the tellers’ report from the minutes” debatable?

(4) Are the roughly two dozen items RONR requires to be in the minutes, as well as the handful of items the book says not to include in the minutes, all on the same footing insofar as they require suspension of the rules for any deviation from §48?

Chair:  Are there any corrections to the minutes?

Member 1:  I move that the tellers' report be struck from the minutes.

Member 2:  Point of order; RONR requires that the teller's report be included in the minutes.

Chair:  That is correct.  The motion to strike the tellers is out of order.

Member 1:  I move to suspend the rules and permit the tellers' report to be struck from the minutes (second)

Chair:  It is moved to suspend the rules and permit the tellers' report to be struck from the minutes.  All those in favor, rise.  Be seated.  All those opposed, rise.  Be seated.  The ayes have it, and the tellers report is struck.

That is how I would handle it.

It would be similar if, for some reason, they assembly wished to strike out the location or who was presiding.  I really would be surprised if any assembly would want to do that.

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1 hour ago, J. J. said:

It would be similar if, for some reason, they assembly wished to strike out the location or who was presiding.  I really would be surprised if any assembly would want to do that.

Or, presumably, to include the seconder of a motion, include the details of how a motion was originally introduced and later amendments, etc.

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1 hour ago, J. J. said:

Chair:  Are there any corrections to the minutes?

Member 1:  I move that the tellers' report be struck from the minutes.

Member 2:  Point of order; RONR requires that the teller's report be included in the minutes.

Chair:  That is correct.  The motion to strike the tellers is out of order.

Member 1:  I move to suspend the rules and permit the tellers' report to be struck from the minutes (second)

Chair:  It is moved to suspend the rules and permit the tellers' report to be struck from the minutes.  All those in favor, rise.  Be seated.  All those opposed, rise.  Be seated.  The ayes have it, and the tellers report is struck.

That is how I would handle it.

 

Well, my guess is you would have announced that "There are two thirds in the affirmative and the motion is adopted" rather than simply that "the ayes have it".

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11 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Well, my guess is you would have announced that "There are two thirds in the affirmative and the motion is adopted" rather than simply that "the ayes have it".

Quite correct.  Thank you.

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30 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

Or, presumably, to include the seconder of a motion, include the details of how a motion was originally introduced and later amendments, etc.

The assembly may order seconds to be recorded(p. 470, ll. 26-28).  My guess is that "extraneous items" could be included by majority vote.  For example:

Mr. Smith made the motion "to commended Officer George for his actions in suppressing the riot on Thursday."   Mr Jackson moved to strike out the word "commended" and insert the word "censured."  The amendment was adopted after debate.  After debate, he motion "to censure Officer George for his actions in suppressing the riot on Thursday," was defeated.

I think that the statement in italics could be inserted in the minutes by majority vote.  That is "what was done" in the meeting, though that is not required to be entered in the minutes.  To require all amendments to main motions that were adopted would require a special rule. 

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13 minutes ago, J. J. said:

I think that the statement in italics could be inserted in the minutes by majority vote.  That is "what was done" in the meeting, though that is not required to be entered in the minutes.  To require all amendments to main motions that were adopted would require a special rule. 

I still don't follow your logic.  RONR says not to include those details, just as it says to include the teller's report.  If you believe that removing the teller's report requires a suspension of the rules, why not inclusion of things which are not supposed to be included?

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1 hour ago, Joshua Katz said:

I still don't follow your logic.  RONR says not to include those details, just as it says to include the teller's report.  If you believe that removing the teller's report requires a suspension of the rules, why not inclusion of things which are not supposed to be included?

RONR mandates that certain things be put in the minutes.  It says that the minutes should not contain the secretary's opinion and, implicitly, not debate (except for disorderly words).  It notes, however, that you can put in debate and amendment parenthetically.  The statement that " Mr Jackson moved to strike out the word "commended" and insert the word "censured," is sufficiently parenthetical for me.  :)

I would also note that RONR does permit the assembly to include such things as committee reports in the minutes, by majority vote.  That is an example of something that can be included in the minutes, but is not required to be in the minutes.  I think that showing changes the text of a motion that is before the assembly is one of those things. 

To me, going beyond the requirement, putting in more than what is required by RONR, is different than removing something that is required by RONR.  RONR is clear that the secretary's opinion or that what was said should not go into the minutes.  It doesn't say that the handling of an amendment should not go in the minutes.  RONR says that the text of an amendment is not required to go into the minutes.

In the case of the tellers' report, RONR it has to be in the minutes.  In the case of the secretary's opinion, RONR says in cannot be in the minutes. In the case of the amendment RONR says that it is not required to be in the minutes.

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18 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

Or, presumably, to include the seconder of a motion, include the details of how a motion was originally introduced and later amendments, etc.

I think there is a big difference.  Without having had the opportunity to think it through (not being George), I strongly suspect that including the tellers's reports of ballot votes protects at least some members's rights, and all that "&c" does not.

But most important, I submit that the procedure for correcting the minutes distinctly does not envision corrections that would violate the rules.  Nothing that I have seen put forth by Messrs. Brown, Katz, pwilson, sometimes JJ, and maybe I missed somebody, suggests a good reason why the procedure for correcting the minutes (specifically, specifying a majority vote) should supersede the requirement to not ignore any rule -- and so, to suspend any rule that prohibits our doing what we want to do.

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3 hours ago, Gary c Tesser said:

I think there is a big difference.  Without having had the opportunity to think it through (not being George), I strongly suspect that including the tellers's reports of ballot votes protects at least some members's rights, and all that "&c" does not.

 

Which rights, and of whom?

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