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Bruce Lages

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Everything posted by Bruce Lages

  1. While I agree that asking for discussion 'highlights' to be summarized is inappropriate, I do not believe that asking for the motion to be re-read is necessarily an imposition. RONR says that "The chair should take special care to make sure that the members always understand what is the immediately pending business - the exact question to be voted on the next time a vote is taken." (p 454, l. 34 - p.455, l.2). It seems to me that repeating the exact wording of a motion is in keeping with this obligation, assuming it is not requested excessively. I'd be willing to err on the cautious side here to make sure that every member knows exactly what question is being considered.
  2. Bruce Lages

    Absentee Ballots

    Since your quoted bylaw excerpt says that "Absentee ballots will be accepted and counted as a valid vote...", the answer to your question is yes, those votes must be counted as valid even if the question the vote references has been substantially modified by amendment at the meeting. You have correctly identified the big problem with absentee ballots being allowed at the same time as in-person voting is taking place. RONR very strongly discourages this situation: "An organization should never adopt a bylaw permitting a question to be decided by a voting procedure in which the votes of persons who attend a meeting are counted together with ballots mailed in by absentees." (RONR, 11th ed. p. 423, ll.25-28). Since your organization has chosen to do this anyway, you'll have to decide how to handle the situation that may occur if changes to a question that occur during a meeting render some or all absentee votes meaningless. Your best course of action, clearly, would be to amend your bylaws to comply with RONR's prescription. By the way, even your elections, where nominees appear to be selected and announced to the membership prior to the election meeting, are not immune to this problem. If no candidate receives a majority on the first ballot, then repeated rounds of balloting are required, and no absentee has the ability to take that in to account. In some such cases, one of the nominees may elect to withdraw from consideration. Absentee ballots for this nominee do not take this into account and must still be credited to him or her, and thus will become wasted votes.
  3. Bruce Lages

    Board Meeting

    If notice of the meeting was not sent to every board member, i.e., all 27, then it can not be considered as a valid meeting (Mr. Geiger's point no. 3 above). Any action taken at such a meeting is null and void.
  4. Bruce Lages

    Rules for counting Ballots

    I would just point out that you quote your rule as " There shall be a run-off election between the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes, if necessary, to break a tie. While none of the three candidates received a majority of the votes cast on the first ballot. that does not imply that there was "a tie". Perhaps a run-off should have been held between the top two vote- getters if, in fact, they both did receive the same number of votes. i.e., an actual tie vote, but if they did not, it doesn't seem that your quoted rule should apply, and there should have been a second round of balloting with all three candidates included.
  5. RONR has quite a bit to say on discipline up to and including expulsion from membership. It's entirely contained in Chapter 20 of the 11th edition, and includes rather detailed procedures that are meant to protect the rights of both the individual and the organization. The 'short' answer to your specific question of "What if this is not in the bylaws?" is that RONR would absolutely prohibit such action by itself without the extensive preliminary procedures defined in Chapter 20.
  6. Bruce Lages

    Standing vs Ad hoc Committee

    Standing committees are discussed in RONR on pp. 490-492. From what you've stated, it certainly seems as if your kitchen committee would fall under the category of a standing committee, especially if all matters related to kitchen inventory and maintenance will be automatically referred to them. You could raise a point of order at the next meeting that if the kitchen committee will be permanently established to perform this continuing function, the bylaws should be amended to add that committee. Is this committee to be empowered to act on its own with regard to purchasing kitchen inventory or arranging for maintenance services? If so, then it should definitely be a standing committee. A special, or ad hoc, committee would more likely report to their parent assembly instead, unless it is specifically empowered to act on its own. If the board established this committee with such power, then the distinction between being a standing vs special committee may not be all that critical.
  7. Bruce Lages

    Majority Vote of the entire membership

    Also, note that the RONR requirement to adopt a special rule of order without prior notice is a vote of a majority of the entire membership. which is not quite the same as a majority vote of the entire membership (your title). A majority vote is the affirmative vote of more than half of the members present and voting. If the entire membership is present, but not everyone votes, you might not achieve the number of affirmative votes necessary for it to be a majority vote of the entire membership. In your example, nothing less than 26 affirmative votes will satisfy the RONR requirement.
  8. Bruce Lages

    Majority Vote of the entire membership

    It would certainly seem to be, since a majority of 50 is 26 - is there something else to your question?
  9. Guest Affinis' first question seems to relate to a Request for Information, with the notable exception that the request is being made of a non-member of the body that is meeting rather than a member. Does that distinction really require that the request be handled as an instance where Suspending the Rules is necessary, or could the request be processed through the very relaxed procedure normally used of going through the chair, but not even require a vote?
  10. Bruce Lages

    Making a Ballot Vote Unanimous

    That's my bolding in Tim's reply. Can someone point out the reference that states a motion to make unanimous a previous ballot vote that was not unanimous must itself be adopted by a unanimous vote?
  11. Bruce Lages


    Virtually none of that is proper under Robert's Rules. What, exactly, do your current bylaws say about the method for amending them?
  12. In fact, nothing in Robert's Rules would prevent the Recording Secretary from also being elected and serving as Corresponding Secretary.
  13. Bruce Lages

    Rejected and tabled motions

    The word 'except' applies only to motions that were withdrawn. According to RONR, the maker of a motion may withdraw his motion - i.e., remove it from consideration by the assembly - unilaterally before it is stated by the chair, and afterwards only with the permission of the assembly. Those are the only instances in which a motion is not recorded in the minutes. [There are, however, certain cases in which some mention of a withdrawn motion should be noted in the minutes.]
  14. Bruce Lages

    Motion to start a discussion

    Under RONR, yes. New business is one of the categories within the standard order of business that is applicable to the meetings of most ordinary societies. As for a motion to start discussion - such a motion is probably never in order. RONR defines a motion as "a formal proposal by a member, in a meeting, that the assembly take certain action." (my emphasis). Discussion is what happens automatically in deciding whether or not to take that action, and is not an action in and of itself.
  15. If in this organization the Commander functions as a president, it seems to me that a vacancy in the office of Commander is filled automatically by the 1st Vice, just as prescribed in RONR for a vacancy in the office of president, unless the bylaws expressly provide otherwise. Richard, I'm not sure why you said that the Vice becomes Commander only if the bylaws specifically provide for this. Are you assuming that the Commander functions as something other than a president?
  16. Bruce Lages

    write-in candidates campaign

    RONR has no position on resumes being submitted by nominees, so you should not expect to find anything for write-in candidates. However, in most cases, write-ins occur at the time the ballot is submitted, so there is no opportunity for written or oral statements made by those voted for as a write-in. I suppose it's possible for a member to indicate prior to the election that he or she would accept a position if elected as write-in and to circulate a resume to that end, but again, you won't find any reference in RONR for or against that.
  17. Bruce Lages

    Ballot to Dissolve

    Also, Katydid, if you're going to work on amending your bylaws - the article you quoted made voting privileges conditional on being 'in good standing'; yet nothing in that article defined what 'in good standing' means. Being delinquent in dues makes someone an 'inactive member' with loss of voting privileges. Is that intended to be the definition of not 'in good standing', or is there some other section of your bylaws that defines what 'in good standing' means?
  18. In the case where the duties occur outside of a meeting. there is certainly no parliamentary harm in asking someone to take on, voluntarily, these duties of the vacant position. But agreeing to do so can not, and will not, make this person a member of the assembly that has the vacancy, or grant any of the rights given to such members by election.
  19. Bruce Lages


    Whether it is illegal or not is beyond the scope of this forum. You could speak to your town attorney as to which, if any, laws or ordinances apply. Under RONR, each assembly approves its own minutes, and when the minutes are presented to the assembly for approval, corrections may be proposed if the minutes do not accurately reflect what happened at the meeting in question. If there is disagreement on any proposed corrections the matter is decided by majority vote. No one individual, including the chair, has the authority to make changes on his or her own, but any one individual can certainly propose corrections. Before the minutes are presented to the assembly, they are under control of the secretary, who can choose whether or not to make any corrections suggested by other members while the minutes are still in draft form.
  20. Bruce Lages


    Unless a body other than the general membership is given exclusive authority to adjudicate appeals, it should be possible for the membership to insist that the appeal be resolved within a given time frame, via a motion to that effect. If you feel that this has dragged on too long, offer a motion to set a time limit for resolution.
  21. Nothing you have presented so far indicates that your president has the power to remove someone from an elected office. Is this authority stated somewhere else in your bylaws?
  22. Bruce Lages

    How to initiate research on a project

    Your 5 member board can, and should, operate under the relaxed small board rules set forth in RONR (p. 487-488, 11th ed.). What your board has been doing is not that far removed from the procedures outlined in those rules. For example, the small board rules allow a limited amount of discussion without a motion pending. So, in your bulletin board case, a member is free to note that the bulletin board is in a state of disrepair and perhaps should be replaced, without a motion to that effect. Committees of one are also not uncommon in a board of that size. So, a completely appropriate response from the chair could be "If there is no objection, Mr. X is appointed as a committee of one to explore replacement of the bulletin board "(assuming Mr. X is willing to follow up on his observation). Not every action absolutely requires a formal motion, and, especially in your board's size, conducting business by unanimous consent, where appropriate, will make meetings flow more smoothly. While the formal rules of RONR are, of course, still available to you, it makes sense to keep things comfortable for your group with the more informal rules allowed by RONR. As to your specific questions: 1) yes, a motion to refer to committee is appropriate, and as noted can be easily done by unanimous consent. Once you have the committee's recommendation, you don't move to substitute, you just move to do whatever the committee recommends. 2) That scenario is not better. If you want information before deciding, then use the steps in 1) above. No need for postponements. 3) You're certainly free to schedule a working session before or after a meeting to discuss all you want, but motions to take action can only be made within a meeting. Having a 'working session' within a meeting is probably going to cause more confusion and prolong your meetings, perhaps substantially. The small board rules permit a certain amount of discussion without a motion, but not at the expense of conducting further business.
  23. Bruce Lages

    Adding to minutes after a meeting

    A point of order can only be made at a properly called meeting. If this member is trying to claim, outside of the meeting in question, that the meeting of another body was inappropriate, that does not belong in the minutes. She can make her point at the next meeting, although I suspect it may already be too late to raise the issue. For future reference, please start a new thread for a new topic, no matter how similar to a previous topic, rather than adding a question to a 4 year old thread.
  24. Since the bylaws mandate that "Regular meetings will ordinarily be held on the second Tuesday of each month...", it seems to me that if you want to permanently eliminate meetings in June and July, the proper way to do that is to amend the bylaws. The provision in that same bylaw that grants the authority to change meeting dates stipulates that such change is for the purpose of holding meetings in conjunction with other activities. Simply eliminating certain meeting dates doesn't seem to conform to that purpose for a change of date. Why not just amend the bylaws to eliminate those June and July meetings?
  25. Bruce Lages

    REplacement members for voting

    You won't find any such authority in RONR. That would have to be in your organization's own rules, at least as a special rule of order, or more likely as a bylaw-level rule.