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Guest Kelly Jones

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Guest Kelly Jones

We are a Band Booster organization whose members are comprised of parents/legal guardians of students enrolled in the band program at a public high school. A good number of our eligible actively participating members are unable to attend meetings due to their professions (over the road truck driver, ER Nurse working mostly night shifts, etc.). These individuals have expressed their concern that because they cannot attend meetings that they do not have a way to cast a vote in an Executive Board Election. Our by-laws state that to vote you must be in attendance at the meeting when the voting is taking place and the final section of our by-laws state that Roberts's rules of Order Newly Revised shall be the final authority as to parliamentary procedure. Based on several of the topics of discussion I read on this site - Electronic Voting and/or Absentee is not valid. When Robert's Rules of Order was written I am sure that no one of that time could fathom the technology we now have available. Some of these members wanted to introduce an amendment to our by-laws to be able to use a method of voting via a voting program or website which tracked the members vote under their individual account and the web voting would be closed 30 minutes prior to the start of that meeting. We need a viable voting option to offer these members who truly feel, and for the lack of better word, "Disenfranchised" from the voting process due to their profession and inability to attend meetings in person to vote. What are your thoughts and recommendations.  

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You could allow for proxies.  You could adopt a new By-law specifically allowing for proxies for the determination of quorum and the election of Board members only.  Or for quorum and any issue, or whatever the organization desires.

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Note:  RONR, 11th ed., does fathom current technology.  It gives general advice - don't vote by email - and specific advice:  if you do, the rules you adopt should include...  I think your organization has a choice to make - of course, it's unlikely that the absentees will be present at a meeting where such an amendment to the bylaws is considered, but the others might consider their needs in deciding whether, and how, to allow other forms of voting.  At the very least, you should not "mix" absentee and present votes.

What I don't think you have, though, is a disenfranchisement issue.  You have bylaws, which are terms of organizing.  People who choose to join an organization under a set of bylaws which make them unable to vote, cannot then complain about disenfranchisement.  They can suggest changing things, and the organization can decide, via the amendment process, what is best, but there's no moral imperative to do so.

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In addition to what has been said, I would recommend that you explore the possibility of meeting electronically - which as noted the current edition of RONR indeed contemplates, and I work with numerous organizations that either meet entirely electronically, or meet in person but with one or more members joining electronically. There are a number of considerations when it comes to electronic meetings - some of them technological, some related to bylaws and/or special rules of order. some important considerations are outlined on pages 97-99 of the 11th Edition (the current edition of RONR), and the electronic edition of the 11th edition even includes sample special rules of order for various kinds of electronic meetings. 

 

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1 hour ago, Greg Goodwiller said:

In addition to what has been said, I would recommend that you explore the possibility of meeting electronically - which as noted the current edition of RONR indeed contemplates, and I work with numerous organizations that either meet entirely electronically, or meet in person but with one or more members joining electronically. There are a number of considerations when it comes to electronic meetings - some of them technological, some related to bylaws and/or special rules of order. some important considerations are outlined on pages 97-99 of the 11th Edition (the current edition of RONR), and the electronic edition of the 11th edition even includes sample special rules of order for various kinds of electronic meetings. 

 

As much as I prefer in-person meetings, for a variety of reasons, I agree that electronic meetings are generally preferable to asynchronous voting.  

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