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Gary Novosielski

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Posts posted by Gary Novosielski

  1. RONR advises that each office (in the order listed in the bylaws) be opened for nominations in turn.  I don't think it would be a large problem to do it as you suggest, particularly if you're expecting few or no nominations from the floor, but then again it takes only a few seconds to say:

    "Are there any further nominations for President?  [pause] If not... [pause] nominations are closed.  Are there any further nominations for Vice president? [pause] ...", etc.

    It is more important that any desired nominations should be properly recognized than it is to adhere perfectly to procedure.

    As for the election, it will depend on your bylaws.  If your bylaws specify that a ballot vote, without any exception for unopposed offices, then that is what is required, and the rule may not be suspended.  The ballot must allow for write-in votes unless they are prohibited by the bylaws, which would be unusual.

    But if a ballot is not mandatory, and if only one candidate has been nominated for an office, the chair simply announces that the single  nominee is elected by acclamation (without any vote).  

    There are two basic ways to run nominations and elections  You may take nominations for, say president, and then elect the president; then move on to the next office and repeat.

    Or, you may get all nominations made first, then close nominations, and run the election for all offices.

    Which method is used may be a matter of custom in your organization, or can be decided by the membership, or if there is no objection, by the method suggested by the chair.


  2. On 9/19/2021 at 7:32 PM, Guest Global One said:

    Does an 'Abstain" vote count towards a "no" vote?

    When you abstain, what you are abstaining from is voting.  It does not count as a Yes, nor as a No, nor as a vote cast.  It usually has no effect on the outcome.

    Abstentions should normally not be called for, not be counted and not be recorded.  Some chairs will ask for the Ayes, the Noes, and "any abstentions".  This is improper.  A person who does not answer to any of the three has in fact abstained just as surely as someone who shouts I abstain!  So a voice vote should call only for Ayes and Noes.  Some members may complain that they were not given the opportunity to abstain, which for obvious reasons makes no sense.  To abstain, one simply does not vote.

  3. On 9/17/2021 at 1:57 PM, Rob Elsman said:

    One of the very purposes of having a Nominating Committee is for the committee to determine the eligibility of people it is interested in nominating, so that the electing body does not have to do the investigation itself.  I do not think I understand how it happened that the ineligible people ended up on the "slate" of people reported by the Nominating Committee.  How did this happen?  Is the committee not carefully vetting the possible nominees?  Why not?

    Very true.  RONR provides that the Nominating Committee should reconvene and fix the problem, but given all the other restrictions in the bylaws, this is probably impossible.  Your bylaws seem to assume that nothing will ever go wrong anywhere.  That assumption may have been unwarranted.

  4. Yes, it sounds like you need to adopt Special Rules of Order (see 2:22 for the procedure).

    Qualifications for office must be in the bylaws, but the procedure for conducting nominations and elections may be Special Rules of Order.  SROs would supersede any conflicting rules in RONR, but they may not conflict with any specific provisions in the bylaws.

  5. Well, it sounds like you are the victim of your own overly restrictive bylaws.  Be careful what you vote for.

    I haven't read your bylaws in their entirety, but I don't see anything in what you quoted that would prevent write-in candidates, which RONR does permit.

    At the meeting, someone should raise a point of order that the two names are not eligible for election and the chair would presumably rule the point well taken.  If the ballots have already been printed, the chair should instruct the voters to cross out those names, and that any votes for them will be counted as illegal votes.  There should be space on the ballot for write-in votes, but if not, the chair should instruct the voters where and how to indicate their preference for any person who, but for the lack of a nomination, would be eligible to hold office.

  6. You would list the 12 names on the ballot, along with 19 lines for write-in votes, with the instruction: Vote for up to 19.

    You can also reopen the floor to nominations prior to the election.

    Any person that receives a majority of the votes cast is elected, and any remaining unfilled seats would trigger a second (or more) ballot with fewer names and lines.  

    Rinse, Repeat.  

  7. It doesn't sound like you have the latest edition (12th) of RONR, but that language is essentially the same.

    Additionally it refers to a footnote, §1:13n3, which says:


    Members in good standing are those whose rights as members of the assembly are not under suspension as a consequence of disciplinary proceedings or by operation of some specific provision in the bylaws. A member may thus be in good standing even if in arrears in payment of dues (see 45:1, 56:19). If only some of an individual’s rights as a member of the assembly are under suspension (for example, the rights to make motions and speak in debate), other rights of assembly membership may still be exercised (for example, the rights to attend meetings and vote).

    So it depends what rights were suspended by the disciplinary action.  If was a suspension from the board only, then a case could be made that he retains the rights of membership.

    You'll need to check the precise language of that motion in the Board's minutes, and also check your bylaws to see what they have to say in this regard, if anything.  For example, does the board have the authority to suspend his rights as a general member. or is that something only the full membership can do?

  8. Refer to RONR (12th ed.) 47:14-19, Suggestions for Inexperienced Presiding Officers.

    I'll quote :14 here:


    47:14 Suggestions for inexperienced presiding officers. The larger the assembly, the more readily it will detect the slightest weakness in a presiding officer. Efforts to capitalize on any such failing may follow with sometimes disastrous results. It is often said that knowledge is strength, and certainly that is true in this case. The presiding officer should be thoroughly familiar with the duties of the presiding officer of an assembly, as stated in 47:7–10, and should have with him the documents listed in 47:8. There is no acceptable alternative to parliamentary procedure for the conduct of business in a deliberative assembly; yet many presiding officers try to get along with a minimum of knowledge. This approach inevitably results in signs of unsureness.



  9. On 9/10/2021 at 10:06 AM, Guest Nominating Committee Membe said:

    Also, the remaining members of the committee have asked to meet without the chairperson to discuss having the chairperson removed. And to prepare a document to be presented to the BOD.

    How do we go about doing that while remaining within Roberts Rules?

    If the chair will not call a meeting "when necessary", any two members of the committee may do so.  It's going to be difficult to get support for removing the chair if members who would have been supportive have already resigned.  I'm not a fan of resigning as an effective problem-solving strategy.

    And as @J. J. noted, all you can do is draft a report of the problem to the parent body and ask for action on their part.  If they try to tell you to solve it yourself, remind them that your power is limited, per RONR

  10. No, having a committee meet during a board meeting which is in session is a little too squirrely for RONR to deal with.

    As @Josh Martin pointed out, you could have a meeting before the board meeting convenes.

    If the need for input from a committee is discovered during a board meeting, another (only slightly less squirrely) method might be to

    • recess the board meeting at the call of the chair,
      • have the committee chair call the committee to order (possibly in another room),
      • take the vote,
      • move to rise and report,
    • call the board meeting back to order, and
    • have a committee member report on what the result of the committee meeting was. (There is no assumption that other board members were paying any attention during the recess).

    I'm sort of hoping that others will declare this method too nonsensical to be considered, and I certainly would not recommend it as a common way to do business but if there's a now-or-never reason why it has to be done now, it technically would not violate any rule I'm familiar with.

  11. It's clear that someone has plans to use this language change to get away with something.

    The best language to use is the language in RONR recommending how it should be adopted:



    Article #
    Parliamentary Authority

    The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the Society in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order the Society may adopt.

    RONR (12th ed.) 2:15, 56:49,56:66


    ...replacing the word Society with something more appropriate if need be.

    And the best reason for using that language is that it is likely that after over a century of experience, this language is less likely to cause trouble than something some rando might make up on his own.

    To those who believe that Robert's Rules may prove to be too restrictive, note that the <society> is free to adopt any bylaws provisions or special rules of order to remedy that restriction, but this way they are required to do it with their eyes open, using specific language, rather than depending on how some member might choose to interpret RONR on any given day.

  12. On 9/6/2021 at 12:32 PM, Guest Clarification of vote said:

    To clarify, are you saying a member does not need to be present for roll call, bulk of meeting or any discussion, but can still be pulled in for one agenda item vote to break a tie?  And their vote is then considered valid?  

    Yes it would be considered valid.

    What is not correct is the concept that a tie needs to be broken.  A tie is not a deadlock condition, it is a number less than a majority, and therefore is a rejection of the motion.

  13. On 9/3/2021 at 9:49 PM, Guest Bblack417 said:

    What does Robert's say about the procedure for reconsidering a vote once it has been passed by a majority of the members? Can an item to reconsider a vote simply be added to the agenda by the chairman? Or does it require a vote of the members to add that item to a future meeting for reconsideration?

    No, an item to reconsider a vote cannot simply be made or added by the chair.  A member who voted on the prevailing side (in this case someone who voted Yes) may move to Reconsider (§37) a vote on a motion that passed, at that same meeting.

    If there are no such voters willing to make that motion, or if it is voted down, a motion can be made by anyone to Rescind, or Amend Something Previously Adopted (§35), which can be done at a future meeting, as long as the motion has not already been carried out.

  14. On 9/3/2021 at 7:35 PM, CodeDelphi said:

    I have a group that likes to approve their monthly Treasurer report, which is just a statement of the current amount and any income or expenses. I was under the impression it didn't require a motion to be approved and just needed to be filed. I was told that they allow questions and discussion on the report, that is why it requires a motion.

    My question, does asking questions and allowing for discussion count as action taken? Is that what is meant by action taken? If it doesn't are questions and discussion allowed without the report having to be accepted? Here is where I am getting my information:

    (1) If the report contains only a statement of fact or opinion for the information of the assembly, the
    reporting member makes no motion for its disposal, as there is no necessity for action on the report. But
    if any action is taken, the proper motion, which should be made by some one else, is to "accept the
    report," which has the effect of endorsing the statement and making the assembly assume responsibility
    for it.

    You don't seem to have identified where you got that passage from.  It's not from RONR.  And it's bad advice.

  15. On 9/1/2021 at 10:35 PM, Weldon Merritt said:

    Mr. Novosielski seems to have overlooked that part of your question (or I missed his response to it), so I will answer it. Yes, you must call for nominations for all offices with terms that end this year, whether or not the incumbent is eligible and seeking another term.

    No, I read the question and answered it.  The question was do I need to ask three times.

  16. On 9/4/2021 at 6:01 PM, Tomm said:

    It's worse than just being a Bylaw, it's in the Articles of Incorporation!!!!

    "3. The Directors shall have the power to adopt Bylaws not in conflict with the Articles of Incorporation."

    "4. The Bylaws may be amended, modified, revised, or revoked by the Directors or by the Members. In the event of conflict concerning the Bylaws as amended, modified, revised, or revoked by the Directors, the action of the Members shall prevail." 

    Two points:

    First the Bylaws make it very difficult for the general membership to challenge any of their decisions.

    Second, item 4 states "In the event of conflict concerning the Bylaws as amended, modified, revised, or revoked by the Directors, the action of the Members shall prevail."  but it doesn't appear that the Members can challenge the adoption of a new Bylaw as stated in item 3? Is that how you would read it?

    Bottom line: We're screwed!


    Even if that's true, it appears that the Members can amend that change out of existence, and can't be countermanded.

  17. No, the "three times" thing is nonsense, but I've heard it before.  Where it comes from I have no idea.  I suppose it's possible that it's in your bylaws, but it's certainly not anywhere in RONR.

    Yes, you can ask once, and after a reasonable pause for replies, move on.  "Hearing none, nominations for Secretary are closed." 

    But if anyone then says "Hey that was too fast I wanted to nom..."  just acknowledge them and allow them to make a nomination.  Voting to (re)open nominations takes a majority vote, and voting to close them takes a 2/3 vote, if it comes to that.

    You say you are running the nomination process of that meeting, which I take to mean that you are not the normal presiding officer.  Is there a reason why the normal presiding officer is not performing that duty?

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