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Alex M.

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  1. I understand that if there are no nominees for a position, there is still a ballot in which members may vote for anyone they wish, and the person who is elected is given the option to accept or decline (immediately if present; when notified if absent). What if this happens repeatedly—i.e., nobody wants to fill the role? Can the assembly: postpone completing the election? postpone it to a time after the officers-elect are due to take office (if a time is provided in the bylaws)? postpone it indefinitely? amend the bylaws to remove the office and assign its powers and duties to other offices? (I presume the answer is yes) adopt some sort of motion (other than a bylaws amendment) that particular other officers shall fulfill the duties of the vacant office? (What vote would be required?) take some other action to avoid having to complete the election? And while the office remains vacant, who exercises its powers and duties? (Perhaps this has been asked elsewhere.)
  2. At a meeting, a society adopts a motion "to designate bananas as the official fruit of the Society", in addition to multiple other motions designating various other food items, such as official cereal and official pancake mixes. Later, the members learn unsavory information about bananas, to the extent that a member moves to rescind their designation as the official fruit. In debate, another member speaks in support of the rescission. The member's remarks include the following: "This is why we should be wary of designating official food items in the future—we always run the risk of not having enough information, and then we have to publicly embarrass ourselves by rescinding the designation." Because the member's comments do not relate directly to the pending question, which is about bananas, are the member's comments in order?
  3. Fair enough. I'm still not convinced I can get over the tellers' instinct to not announce in lopsided races with multiple worthwhile candidates, as I discussed above. Hopefully people see the value in the other transparency-related aspects, though. But I brought up similar points in bylaws committee and in floor consideration of our bylaws revision—and everyone seemed to agree with them, until the tellers had a lopsided report in their hands and refused to fulfill their duty to read it aloud to the assembly.
  4. I'll add: this organization has been functioning under a very strange amalgamation of customs and practices for as long as I've been in it. As "Parliamentarian" (see above for why it's in air quotes), if I threw a fit every time we violated some paragraph of RONR, I'd lose all my legitimacy. I've focused on speaking up when people's rights are clearly being violated or when there's a clear potential to improve the efficiency of business. But "because RONR says so" and "because the bylaws say so" are not persuasive arguments in this society, and never have been except when something written in the bylaws comports with someone's agenda. Still, the society manages to function, and I've mostly succeeded at protecting what I see as the core accountability elements of RONR and our bylaws. But that makes it even harder to argue solely from the vantage point that some rule is written in a 669-page book that nobody but me and the Parliamentarian-elect owns a copy of, even though that book happens to be the adopted parliamentary authority of our society. If I'm going to succeed in having vote totals announced at officer elections, I need a more persuasive argument than "RONR says so", even though I wish that were all I needed.
  5. Oh dear, this is a lot! I'll pick out a few things: The bylaws give me the title of Parliamentarian, though in truth that's a misnomer for my actual job. Among my duties is to preside at officer elections. In past elections (before I entered office), the chairman of tellers would quietly tell the presiding officer the vote tally, and the presiding officer would announce the result without repeating the vote tally. In this election, the President/chairman of tellers took it upon himself to announce the winners. That was another one of those moments where I decided it wasn't worth it to get in a rules fight right then and there, though I'll probably review the procedures with the President before our endorsement meeting next week, which is done by ballot as well. I also happen to have been elected President (taking office in a couple of weeks, as the bylaws prescribe), so the election of my successor will likely proceed differently than this one. What circumstances would make it inapplicable? The bylaws do require a ballot in all contested races (of which there were several). There seems to be one case missing: that of a member who is well-respected within the organization, but goes up against another well-respected candidate and loses decisively. That happened in the first contested race of the evening (it was about a 90%–10% split), and I think that was why the chairman of tellers refused to read out the ballot tally. It was probably to avoid humiliating the losing candidate, out of what RONR describes as "mistaken deference", but if I'm going to convince people (especially last night's tellers) that the deference was mistaken, I need to fully understand why it was mistaken. As the bylaws chairman (another facet of my strange role in this organization), I discussed that the rules require ballot tallies to be read aloud. There was no opposition to that within the committee or during floor consideration (which I also presided over, as the bylaws require... just go with it), but I suspect that the tellers' hearts changed upon seeing an actual example of a lopsided tally. Thanks, everyone.
  6. Our organization had officer elections tonight. I seem to recall RONR stating explicitly that under no circumstances should the reading of the tellers' report, including vote totals, be omitted in presenting the results of an election. Nevertheless, the chairman of tellers (who is also the President) refused to announce the vote totals, fearing that this could be upsetting to members who lost resoundingly (it's also not our custom to announce the totals). I was presiding and decided this was not a battle I wanted to fight tonight, so I asked if there was unanimous consent to suspend the requirement that vote totals be announced, and there was no objection. (Our bylaws do require the vote totals to be retained and made available to any member who asks.) Why does RONR insist that it is a good idea to announce vote totals? If there's no good argument for why it should be done, I'm inclined to agree with the chairman of tellers—but I can't imagine the A-team putting in their admonition without a good reason for doing so. Separately, is it in order to suspend the rule requiring vote totals to be announced, as we did tonight?
  7. Fair enough. To be clear, though, am I correct that your objection isn't to the simultaneous postponements, but to the fact that they're being done before special committees are arrived at in the order of business? Or would you be okay with a main motion to postpone one special committee report before officer/etc. reports are handled? Just want to make sure you're not disputing Mr. Honemann's or my arguments on my original question before we start on a new topic. As for the point you raise, you're probably right, but I'm curious enough to crack open my copy of RONR tomorrow...once I get some sleep.
  8. Oh dear, not this argument again... I should also note that another thread (also linked above) is disagreeing over the question I raised in the third paragraph of my original post.
  9. A tedious way of doing it would be "I move to postpone the report of the special committee appointed to consider Foo, and of the committee appointed to consider Bar, and of the committee [proceeding to identify each special committee] until after the consideration of unfinished business." But perhaps such tedium of expression can be avoided?
  10. Starting arguments on the forum, my favorite pastime. 😈 My initial opinion was in line with Mr. Honemann's (though it should be noted that I'm a complete novice to this field). I interpret the rule on p. 184 to mean that if someone makes the motion I give in my example, it's in order only if treated as multiple main motions made simultaneously under the rule on p. 274. Thus, any member may demand a separate vote on postponing any individual item. If the rule on p. 184 were inverted to explicitly allow postponement of a class of business, the motion in my example would then be considered as a single main motion divisible only by majority vote. So, the rule on p. 184 doesn't mean you can't make the motion in my example—it just means such a motion is treated as multiple simultaneous motions that may be considered jointly only by unanimous consent. Similar rules are treated similarly; generally speaking, there's no limit to what the assembly can do by a single vote except for the limits of reason and unanimous consent. But I'm curious to hear thoughts from people who actually know what they're talking about.
  11. Hopefully this example doesn't transgress any rules except possibly the one it is meant to illuminate: A meeting of the Widget Society has just begun, and you are its president. There's expected to be a controversial debate in unfinished business, but there are also a panoply of special committees set to give reports. After the minutes are approved, I rise, get recognized, and move to postpone each of the special committees' reports to after unfinished business. My intent is that my proposal be treated as a set of multiple main motions, one per report, divisible on demand by any member. A member rises on a point of order, arguing that my motion is not in order because it would violate the rule against postponement of a class of subjects. You are in the chair. How do you rule?
  12. What distinguishes this example from other cases where the main motions/resolutions must be offered individually and put to individual votes? Or do such cases exist?
  13. This is closely related to a question I've had ever since I got about halfway through my first reading of RONR, so I've factored it out to this thread. And I suppose that, while the matter is in the hands of the committee, it is not in order to consider it in the assembly? It seems decidedly odd to allow a matter that will come up as pending later in the meeting to be sent off to committee before that time. It strikes me as even more odd that a majority cannot postpone a class of business or lay it on the table by a single vote, but can refer it to committee by a single vote when no business is pending, and then reconsider the referral (if the committee has yet to meet and it is within the time limit) whenever it is desired to take up the matter after the time originally fixed for its consideration. (And, perhaps, the majority could be sure that the committee will not interfere with its plan by instructing it not to meet before when they anticipate wanting to take up the matter again, or simply by ensuring that nobody is appointed to the committee who would call an early meeting.) Aside from the time limit on reconsideration, and the fact that this is a main motion instead of a subsidiary one, how is the effect of that not different from laying the class of business on the table by a single vote?
  14. I'm confused by the interaction between the fundamental principle articulated in RONR (11th ed.), p. 59, ll. 18–23, that "only one question can be considered at a time", and the section in p. 274, l. 31, to p. 275, l. 14. The latter section states that "sometimes a series of independent resolutions or main motions dealing with different subjects is offered in one motion", and gives the specific example of multiple amendments to the same question being adopted by a single vote unless a member calls for a separate vote. I interpret pp. 274–75 to mean that multiple questions that could each stand alone can also be considered and voted on as a unit, unless any member requests that they be divided. However, this seems to conflict with the principle on p. 59. It also seems hostile to statements such as the one on p. 184, ll. 23–27, that it is not in order—even by main motion—to postpone an entire class of business by one motion, and that each item must be postponed by a separate motion. The prevailing sense in this thread seems to be that if a member wishes to postpone multiple items at once by main motion, the member must make a separate motion to postpone each item, and may not offer the multiple postponements as one motion (subject to division at the request of any member) as pp. 274–75 seem to imply is acceptable. Under what circumstances, if any, may multiple main motions be put before the body to be decided by a single vote (subject to division at the request of any member)?
  15. But RONR specifically allows each in a class to be postponed by subsidiary motion (p. 184, ll. 26–27). Why do lines 23–25 prevent the use of a series of main motions but not multiple subsidiary motions? And in your view could the series of main motions be moved as a single motion, subject to division at any member's request? Or must a member make a separate motion, which is then separately seconded and voted on, to postpone each item in the class? Is a main motion to refer to committee in the same nature as a postponement or laying on the table? In other words, when a future item of business is postponed or laid on the table, it is prevented from coming before the assembly at its original time. Can a future item of business similarly be committed and prevented from coming before the assembly until the committee reports (or is discharged or otherwise)?
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