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keefe

Adoption requires two-thirds vote...

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Hello,

About a year ago our church had done some Constitution and Bylaw amendments.  Below is a part of our bylaw amendment process.  My understanding of Chapter XIII Voting in Roberts Rules of Order is that two-thirds when not qualified is, two-thirds of votes cast by persons eligible to vote.  Our previous Article IX (the strike through) appears to not have had a qualifying statement, therefore, it would be two-thirds of votes cast.  Now it would appear to have a qualifying statement of two-thirds of the members voting to pass a bylaw amendment.  Example, previously thirty votes cast and twenty were yes, then that two-thirds would pass the amendment.  Now as it reads, thirty votes cast and twenty yes, but our membership is 100 then that is not two-thirds so the amendment would not pass.

 

I know that ultimately it is up to our membership to interpret what it meant when amending the bylaws but I would appreciate some input on this from anyone.  Thank you.

ARTICLE IX

AMENDMENTS TO THE BY-LAWS

Its adoption requires a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the votes cast.vote of the eligible Confessing Members.

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Your problem is the same as many organizations have which don't use the precise language defining a vote threshold requirement as found in RONR, page 402 ff.  As you point out it might mean a "2/3 vote" in the defined sense of page 403, or it might mean a "vote of 2/3 of the members" as also defined on page 403.

Once your membership figures out what meaning the prefer, amend the bylaws. That is the only way to fix the problem.

(And the phrase "2/3 majority" isn't much better - mathematically that one means "2/3 of more than half" which works out to "more than 2/6", or "more than 1/3". I don't think you meant that, but that is what it says to someone who is strict with multiplying fractions together.  And I'll bet you thought you were done with multiplying fractions in about the 8th or 9th grade.)

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38 minutes ago, jstackpo said:

(And the phrase "2/3 majority" isn't much better - mathematically that one means "2/3 of more than half" which works out to "more than 2/6", or "more than 1/3". I don't think you meant that, but that is what it says to someone who is strict with multiplying fractions together.  And I'll bet you thought you were done with multiplying fractions in about the 8th or 9th grade.)

I disagree.  I think it means very little (but it's obviously supposed to mean 2/3 and should be interpreted as such).  I disagree with your interpretation because it doesn't say 2/3 of a majority, it just has a noun (majority) and a modifier (2/3) which don't go together.

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If RONR is your parliamentary authority, and absent any rule to the contrary, only members are allowed to vote. So you don't need to specify that it's only members who can vote. Often adding that language creates ambiguity. Review the reference jstackpo notes and just go with the wording RONR has there. If it's a 2/3 vote you want, just say that. Strike the language about who's doing the voting.

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Right...  and the ambiguity arises because of the rule on page 589, line 34ff, stating that "There is a presumption that nothing has been placed in the bylaws without some reason for it".  So there is (?) some reason for including the "of the members" phrase, but what might it be?  About all I can think of is that it supplies the "what" in the question "2/3  of what?"  

So leave the phrase out or else supply the complete one: "a 2/3 vote of the members present and voting", as shown on page 402, line 29.

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Guest Who's Coming to Dinner
11 hours ago, keefe said:

Our previous Article IX (the strike through) appears to not have had a qualifying statement, therefore, it would be two-thirds of votes cast.  Now it would appear to have a qualifying statement of two-thirds of the members voting to pass a bylaw amendment.

Abstentions are not votes. A member who is not voting does not cast a vote. I would hope that is obvious. Absent cheating, the number of members voting is equal to the number of votes cast. Therefore, these two sentences are equivalent.

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Yes, I understand that abstentions are not votes.  The question is about the qualifying part of the bylaw stating 2/3 vote of the eligible confessing members.  Example, previously thirty votes cast and twenty were yes, then that two-thirds would pass the amendment.  Now as it reads, thirty votes cast and twenty yes, but our membership is 100 then that is not two-thirds so the amendment would not pass. Instead it would require 67 yes votes.

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Keefe, my interpretation of the amended bylaw provision is the same as yours. This assumes, however, that there are not separate classes of confessing and non confessing members, but that the term confessing members simply means members.

That term came up in a very recent thread and the original poster in that thread clarified that at least in his case confessing members simply means members. Ultimately, your organization has to determine exactly what that term means and who it includes.

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Richard, that is correct, confessing members are just simply members, there are no non-confessing members.  Simply put, we have members and non members :)  Unfortunately the added "confessing" part can confuse.

Thank you all for your feedback.

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