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Alex M.

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  1. I participated in a small meeting (20–30 people) with Zoom, which worked decently well. One person is empowered as the host (probably the usual presiding officer), who can mute members to ensure that those who have the floor are speaking. At my meeting, the presiding officer asked members to place a single character in the chat window to seek the floor, though there is also a Raise Hand function that can be used for this purpose. Your assembly would need to establish conventions for business that can interrupt a speaker; simply having a member say "Mr. Chairman" doesn't work as well because it is difficult to hear more than one speaker at a time. Voice votes don't work as well for the same reason, and in a large assembly rising votes will not work because the presiding officer cannot see all members at once.
  2. Agreeing with Dr. Kapur: As well as your organization's bylaws (which it would be helpful to provide a relevant excerpt of if you can), your organization might also be subject to procedural rules under state/federal law. As mentioned above by Mr. Katz, though, we can't advise you on interpreting the law, only that if there's a difference between the law and RONR, the law takes precedence.
  3. Our bylaws do not authorize electronic meetings and have a quorum of 5. In light of present difficulties with arranging physical meetings, we are considering an amendment to allow electronic meetings under certain circumstances. My plan as the president was to call a special meeting, give notice of the amendment in the call of that meeting, and get five people to hang out on a street corner for a minute or two to adopt the amendment. However, because our university has moved classes online and closed its residence halls, many of our members have left town, and it seems impossible to make quorum. Therefore, I am considering deliberately holding an illegitimate meeting (either an inquorate meeting or an electronic meeting), adopting the amendment at that meeting, and then continuing to meet electronically until the circumstances allow an in-person meeting. At that in-person meeting, the actions taken to adopt the amendment, and at subsequent electronic meetings, would hopefully be ratified; the ratified actions would likely include the election of the officers who would be serving at the time of the ratification. Is this procedure sound, apart from the obvious fact that the actions taken at future electronic meetings would technically be illegitimate unless they are ratified? Is there a simpler method of achieving this result? I should note our board is already authorized to meet electronically, but not to amend the bylaws.
  4. I was waiting for when this forum would get its first coronavirus thread...
  5. An organization has a regularly scheduled convention, and units that may adopt resolutions to be recommended to the parent organization. A person is a member of one of the units and not the parliamentarian, but is a member and the parliamentarian of the parent organization. Obviously, the person should not debate or vote on resolutions at the parent organization's convention when they serve as parliamentarian. But should that person also recuse themselves, within their unit, from discussions and votes on resolutions to be recommended to the convention?
  6. But is my recollection correct that a motion to correct minutes is procedurally similar to a motion to amend a main motion? And if so, am I correct in then concluding that a motion to correct is debatable? (I'm not sure I've ever managed to fit the word "correct" into a single paragraph that many times...)
  7. Thanks, I find this persuasive—but wouldn't the discussion take place after nominations have closed? My organization essentially does it by custom. Perhaps I've hijacked this thread a little too much...
  8. Messrs. Elsman and Mervosh, this seems logical and I don't doubt it, but I'm curious about where I could find this in the book.
  9. My organization is to have an important meeting in the next few weeks, and some members desire to limit voting rights at that meeting to a particular class of established members. The bylaws have this to say about voting rights in general: "A member lacks the right to make motions and vote until noon the day after becoming a member, unless they were also a member in the immediately preceding semester." The bylaws are amendable by two-thirds vote with previous notice given at the preceding regular meeting; there is time to amend the bylaws before the aforementioned important meeting. I know the motion to Suspend the Rules cannot negate a member's right to vote. Is there any way to shrink the class of eligible voters at a specific meeting, or on a particular question at that meeting, short of adding a temporary provision to the bylaws? For example, would a special rule of order be appropriate, or a main motion possibly adopted by a two-thirds vote or with previous notice?
  10. Robert's Rules do not apply to business conducted in writing, and do not allow a group to officially take action unless it does so at a properly called meeting. The only way you can take action in writing is if your bylaws, or local/state/federal laws governing your organization, expressly allow it.
  11. RONR says "sometimes a series of independent resolutions or main motions dealing with different subjects is offered in one motion. In such a case, one or more of the several resolutions must receive separate consideration and vote at the request of a single member...." RONR (11th ed.), p. 274, ll. 32–36. "Similarly, a series of amendments to a main motion (or conceivably to a primary amendment such as a substitute) may be offered in one motion. Unless these amendments meet the standard for conforming amendments given on pages 273–74, any member may demand a separate vote on one or more of them." p. 275, ll. 7–12. However, "a motion cannot be divided unless each part presents a proper question for the assembly to act upon if none of the other parts is adopted, and unless the effect of adopting all of the parts will be exactly the same—no more, no less—as adoption of the compound mean question." p. 272, ll. 19–24. Suppose a member wishes to eliminate the office of Financial Secretary from the bylaws, transferring some duties to the existing office of Recording Secretary and some to the existing office of Treasurer. The member offers a series of bylaws amendments, one to strike "Financial Secretary" from the list of officers, and the others to strike "Financial Secretary" from each place it appears and insert "Recording Secretary" or "Treasurer" as appropriate. Clearly each of these are separate amendments in the parliamentary sense, but they depend on one another such that the whole is not the sum of its parts (e.g., adopting only the first amendment but not the others would leave a reference to a nonexistent office in the bylaws). However, the standard for conforming amendments appears narrow enough that these amendments would not meet it. It is also conceivable that a member would want to move some of the reassigned duties between the Recording Secretary and the Treasurer, which I presume would be easier if one of the latter amendments gets a separate vote. In light of this, is it in order to offer the series of amendments given above with a single enacting motion? If so, is that motion divisible on demand, divisible by majority vote, indivisible, or a combination?
  12. Thanks. Can you think of any examples of duties that wouldn't be able to be delegated? And is there somewhere even vaguely relevant that I could look in RONR?
  13. The bylaws are silent, and the society has no other standing rules. As for the nature of the duties, let's take two cases: the duties are administrative and are explicitly set forth in the bylaws—such as securing accommodations for meetings, preserving the society's charter with parent organizations, collecting dues, and responding to members' requests for specific types of information; and the duties generally pertain to outreach and advocacy and are set forth in general terms in the bylaws—such as to liaise with a broad class of other organizations or operate the society's social media—with implementation details governed by custom as well as the officer's own judgment. What I had in mind was something allowing officers to temporarily give their powers and duties to another member, subject to board approval. I probably should have expected y'all to leave it up to the society, but it's good to know it doesn't strike you as an abjectly bad idea.
  14. The bylaws give an officer certain powers and duties that are not connected with running meetings. May the officer delegate those powers and duties to another person (for instance, if the officer wishes to take a brief leave of absence)? Must the delegation be approved by our board? Our bylaws are silent. Our board has full power and authority. Also, is it advisable to add a bylaws provision allowing officers to take leaves of absence?
  15. The point of including Whereas clauses is for your resolution to have two parts: what you are doing and why you are doing it. The Whereas clauses (the preamble) provide reasons for the action you're taking, and the Resolved clauses are the actual action. If you don't want to include reasons, you don't need Whereas clauses; you can just include the Resolved clauses. Or you can just make it a motion, not a resolution, which doesn't need Resolved clauses at all. If you want to include reasons, but don't like the look of the word Whereas, the suggestions above (like Since or Because) might be appropriate.
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