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Irrelevant Negative Vote

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RONR says that the chair need not call for the negative vote when it is intrinsically irrelevant—when the voting basis is one fifth of the members present, for example, and more than that number have clearly voted in the affirmative ([10th ed.], p. 43, l. 20-25).

May the negative vote be omitted whenever the set of members to which the voting proportion applies is other than the set of members present and voting, and enough members have clearly voted in the affirmative? In particular, does the exception to calling for the negative vote apply to cases in which the voting basis is a majority of the entire membership?

Part of my motivation for asking is that I’m unsure whether the rationale behind almost always calling for the negative vote is to avoid inaccurate results or to give members a chance to express their disapproval by vote.

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RONR says that the chair need not call for the negative vote when it is intrinsically irrelevant—when the voting basis is one fifth of the members present, for example, and more than that number have clearly voted in the affirmative ([10th ed.], p. 43, l. 20-25).

May the negative vote be omitted whenever the set of members to which the voting proportion applies is other than the set of members present and voting, and enough members have clearly voted in the affirmative? In particular, does the exception to calling for the negative vote apply to cases in which the voting basis is a majority of the entire membership?

Part of my motivation for asking is that I’m unsure whether the rationale behind almost always calling for the negative vote is to avoid inaccurate results or to give members a chance to express their disapproval by vote.

The rationale behind the rule is, "majority vote".

That is, if an affirmative vote is 1 or 2 or 3 voters, then you still do not know if the motion is adopted or is rejected UNTIL the chair takes the negative vote.

It is the opposite with the rule you cited.

The rationale goes away once the vote threshold rule is something else, like "majority of the membership," where the affirmative side must immediately reach a fixed point, and the act of taking the negative vote thus becomes meaningless exercise, as its quantity won't change anything, no matter how high, no matter how low.

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May the negative vote be omitted whenever the set of members to which the voting proportion applies is other than the set of members present and voting, and enough members have clearly voted in the affirmative? In particular, does the exception to calling for the negative vote apply to cases in which the voting basis is a majority of the entire membership?

In the case where enough members have clearly voted in the affirmative, the negative vote does not need to be called for, unless the assembly orders a counted vote. A counted vote requires that the number of members voting in the affirmative and the negative be recorded in the minutes, and I can see reasons the assembly would wish to record this information for important motions. (RONR, 10th ed., pg. 453, lines 31-32) The other main reason to call for the negative vote is to determine who may move to Reconsider, but this does not apply if the prevailing side is the affirmative.

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RONR says that the chair need not call for the negative vote when it is intrinsically irrelevant—when the voting basis is one fifth of the members present, for example, and more than that number have clearly voted in the affirmative ([10th ed.], p. 43, l. 20-25).

May the negative vote be omitted whenever the set of members to which the voting proportion applies is other than the set of members present and voting, and enough members have clearly voted in the affirmative? In particular, does the exception to calling for the negative vote apply to cases in which the voting basis is a majority of the entire membership?

Part of my motivation for asking is that I’m unsure whether the rationale behind almost always calling for the negative vote is to avoid inaccurate results or to give members a chance to express their disapproval by vote.

The exception on p. 43, l. 20-25, applies in the limited circumstances mentioned there.

>>In particular, does the exception to calling for the negative vote apply to cases in which the voting basis is a majority of the entire membership?<<

No.

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The exception on p. 43, l. 20-25, applies in the limited circumstances mentioned there.

>>In particular, does the exception to calling for the negative vote apply to cases in which the voting basis is a majority of the entire membership?<<

No.

Why?

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In the case where enough members have clearly voted in the affirmative

If I read it right, the example in RONR references a counted voted (although may not have stated as such explicitly), correct? Otherwise how would you know if 1/5 (or more) voted in the affirmative? So in any counted vote (majority, 2/3, etc) if the affirmative meets the voting threshold, there is no need to call for the negative votes, right? Or is there another motion, such as Reconsider which can only be moved by a prevailing-side voter, which can be moved only from a losing-side voter?

I'm not sure how you can know if "enough members have clearly voted in the affirmative" unless you count the votes, which I thought (although perhaps erroneously) was only done in a counted rising, ballot, or roll call vote. In a voice vote, despite the overwhelming sound of the ayes, you need to balance that against the whisper of the nos to be sure. Even with a raised hand or rising (uncounted) vote, it may be hard to gauge until you see how many reach/stand for the negative (or how many who fail to).

In a (simple) majority vote (no further qualification), if more than half the members present vote affirmatively, I guess there's no need to call for the negative. But you need a count of the affirmative votes, and a count of the members present, to determine that, so............ there seems to be a lot of counting going on.

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If I read it right, the example in RONR references a counted voted (although may not have stated as such explicitly), correct? Otherwise how would you know if 1/5 (or more) voted in the affirmative? So in any counted vote (majority, 2/3, etc) if the affirmative meets the voting threshold, there is no need to call for the negative votes, right? Or is there another motion, such as Reconsider which can only be moved by a prevailing-side voter, which can be moved only from a losing-side voter?

I'm not sure how you can know if "enough members have clearly voted in the affirmative" unless you count the votes, which I thought (although perhaps erroneously) was only done in a counted rising, ballot, or roll call vote. In a voice vote, despite the overwhelming sound of the ayes, you need to balance that against the whisper of the nos to be sure. Even with a raised hand or rising (uncounted) vote, it may be hard to gauge until you see how many reach/stand for the negative (or how many who fail to).

In a (simple) majority vote (no further qualification), if more than half the members present vote affirmatively, I guess there's no need to call for the negative. But you need a count of the affirmative votes, and a count of the members present, to determine that, so............ there seems to be a lot of counting going on.

Oh, I think Josh is right. If the vote required is a majority of the entire membership and more than half of the entire membership votes in the affirmative, the negative vote is intrinsically irrelevant.

But I'd call for it anyway. :)

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Oh, I think Josh is right. If the vote required is a majority of the entire membership and more than half of the entire membership votes in the affirmative, the negative vote is intrinsically irrelevant.

But I'd call for it anyway. :)

But if the vote is the basic, unadorned, unqualified (simple) majority, and thus only the votes of those present count, and the affirmative is more than half of the number of members present, the same applies, yes? Membership = 100, 25 at the meeting, 13 affirmative votes, no need to call for the negative. But I agree with you, calling for negative is still a good idea anyway.

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But if the vote is the basic, unadorned, unqualified (simple) majority, and thus only the votes of those present count, and the affirmative is more than half of the number of members present, the same applies, yes? Membership = 100, 25 at the meeting, 13 affirmative votes, no need to call for the negative. But I agree with you, calling for negative is still a good idea anyway.

No, in the example you provided, the rule is that the chair must call for the negative vote. He does not call for a count of the number of members present.

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No, in the example you provided, the rule is that the chair must call for the negative vote. He does not call for a count of the number of members present.

Perhaps my wording left some gaps. I didn't meant to suggest the chair "calls for a count of the members present."

That said -- I guess my point is, in order for the chair to be justified in not calling for the negative, it must be a certainty that the affirmative vote count undeniably meets the threshold (majority, 2/3, 1/5, majority of entire membership, etc). That means you need 1) the count of the voting body (the entire membership, the number present, whatever is relevent) and the count of the affirmative votes.

As per my example previously, an unqualified majority vote (that is, present and voting only) with 13 affirmative votes, at a membership meeting of 25 members, must pass, since the largest count of negative votes possible is 12, and therefore is irrelevent. But --- you need to do some counting to get here, and I didn't think you counted except in the case of rising counted, ballot, or roll call vote. I see though that a vote "of the entire ______" does also require counting. So unless the vote is a "counted" vote, you must call for the negative, yes?

Edited by David A Foulkes

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That means you need 1) the count of the voting body (the entire membership, the number present, whatever is relevent) and the count of the affirmative votes.

While you undeniably need a count of the members present, I can imagine a circumstance in which the support for a motion is so obvious that no count of the affirmative votes is necessary, particularly if the required threshold is quite low (such as 1/5 of the members present).

So unless the vote is a "counted" vote, you must call for the negative, yes?

The negative must always be called for if the voting requirement is a proportion of the members present and voting. In the case of a counted vote it is even more important, as it must be included in the minutes.

I would add that if there is every any doubt in the chair's mind, I would err on the side of calling for the negative vote, as I suspect members are much more likely to complain about omitting it than including it.

Edited by Josh Martin

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While you undeniably need a count of the members present, I can imagine a circumstance in which the support for a motion is so obvious that no count of the affirmative votes is necessary, particularly if the required threshold is quite low (such as 1/5 of the members present).

The negative must always be called for if the voting requirement is a proportion of the members present and voting. In the case of a counted vote it is even more important, as it must be included in the minutes.

Did you mean negative here? Or are you suggesting that with a low threshold, and enough ayes shouted out, or raised hands or bodies, the chair just "knows" the motion passed? I had considered that was the thinking behind p. 43, but wasn't sure it didn't imply a counted vote being taken.

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Or are you suggesting that with a low threshold, and enough ayes shouted out, or raised hands or bodies, the chair just "knows" the motion passed? I had considered that was the thinking behind p. 43, but wasn't sure it didn't imply a counted vote being taken.

I do not think a voice vote is appropriate when the voting requirement is based on a proportion of the members present, but I can certainly see how a chair could "eyeball" a rising vote in certain circumstances.

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Perhaps my wording left some gaps. I didn't meant to suggest the chair "calls for a count of the members present."

That said -- I guess my point is, in order for the chair to be justified in not calling for the negative, it must be a certainty that the affirmative vote count undeniably meets the threshold (majority, 2/3, 1/5, majority of entire membership, etc). That means you need 1) the count of the voting body (the entire membership, the number present, whatever is relevent) and the count of the affirmative votes.

As per my example previously, an unqualified majority vote (that is, present and voting only) with 13 affirmative votes, at a membership meeting of 25 members, must pass, since the largest count of negative votes possible is 12, and therefore is irrelevent. But --- you need to do some counting to get here, and I didn't think you counted except in the case of rising counted, ballot, or roll call vote. I see though that a vote "of the entire ______" does also require counting. So unless the vote is a "counted" vote, you must call for the negative, yes?

When a vote is being taken by one of the regular methods of voting the chair should always call for the negative vote when the vote required for passage is one which is mandated by some rule in RONR, unless the motion being voted on is in the nature of a courtesy resolution (look in the index).

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When a vote is being taken by one of the regular methods of voting the chair should always call for the negative vote when the vote required for passage is one which is mandated by some rule in RONR, unless the motion being voted on is in the nature of a courtesy resolution (look in the index).

You mean, look up "Courtesy Resolution", where it likely will tell me (See Resolution, Courtesy)? :D (just funnin')

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>>In particular, does the exception to calling for the negative vote apply to cases in which the voting basis is a majority of the entire membership?<<

No.

Why not? The words "such as" in the text seem to indicate that this is an example, not the only possible exception. It seems to me that when MEM is the basis, and the affirmative vote is clearly more than half of the total membership, the negative is just as "intrinsically irrelevant" as in the example given. As a matter of practice, I probably would call for it anyway; I am just not convinced it is required in that circumstance.

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Why not? The words "such as" in the text seem to indicate that this is an example, not the only possible exception. It seems to me that when MEM is the basis, and the affirmative vote is clearly more than half of the total membership, the negative is just as "intrinsically irrelevant" as in the example given. As a matter of practice, I probably would call for it anyway; I am just not convinced it is required in that circumstance.

See post #8. :)

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It seems as if the salient feature of the exception involving one fifth of the members present is the low threshold, not the fact that the voting basis is defined in terms of the members present. If the threshold is low enough and the ayes numerous enough, it will be extremely obvious that the ayes have it.

No matter what the voting basis, it’s possible to have enough ayes to make it mathematically impossible for the motion to be lost—but that’s different from making it obvious that the ayes have it. If mathematical possibility were the relevant criterion, then there would be virtually no limit to exceptions for requiring the negative vote.

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If mathematical possibility were the relevant criterion, then there would be virtually no limit to exceptions for requiring the negative vote.

Just take the few seconds it takes to ask for the negative vote and move on.

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Since there appears to be so much interest in this sentence on page 43, lines 20-25, I assume you all know where it comes from, right? smile.gif

Considering it's only other use is on p. 339, that might be a hint.

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