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Can a 2/3 majority demand a meeting be extended and a vote taken?


Guest claire

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(apologies for the length of this query)

I am a member of a 12 step group.

Two board member (of the N. california group) have made a motion to change the bylaws affecting voting eligibility. Currently, to be a voting member, you must 90 days of abstinence/sobriety (not very democratic, but there you have it). They want to change eligibility to two years, disenfranchising a large part of the fellowship. (This was motion was made without consulting the other board members.)

It is being done to affect the outcome of votes on certain issues.

At the monthly meeting, since it was known this issue would come up, members came from great distances to vote.

Regular business was dragged out, and after pro and con discussion was finished, and it was time to vote, the two board members wanted to end the meeting at the regular time. After an outcry, the meeting was extended 10 minutes, but then closed, despite a call for a vote to be taken.

If a motion is made to extend the time and take a vote, doesn't a vote have to be taken regarding that? And if passed by a 2/3 majority of voting members, wouldn't the the vote on changing the bylaws have to be taken, according to parliamentary procedures?

I have learned that they intend to do the same in the upcoming meeting, going over regular business until by the time to address the bylaws comes, and then end of the meeting, claiming lack of time. (Many of the people who will be coming usually don't attend the meetings, because of distance and work/time conflict, but are coming specifically to vote on this issue.)

I would enormously appreciate any insights

(info on impeaching board members would be interesting as well :-)

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If a motion is made to extend the time and take a vote, doesn't a vote have to be taken regarding that? And if passed by a 2/3 majority of voting members, wouldn't the the vote on changing the bylaws have to be taken, according to parliamentary procedures?

Does your organization have a rule setting the time to adjourn the meeting, or does the assembly adopt an agenda at the start of the meeting? If it does not, then the meeting should only adjourn when there is no business or when a motion to Adjourn is adopted. If it does, then a 2/3 vote* is sufficient to extend the meeting for as long as your body would like to.

It is true that the assembly cannot move onto other business while a motion is pending, and that the motion must be disposed of in some fashion (such as by voting on it, postponing it, or referring it to a committe). However, an assembly can always adjourn even with motions pending, and a motion to Adjourn is in order at almost any time, even when debate is finished the assembly is ready to take a vote (not, however, once the vote has begun). The assembly can always defeat the motion, though.

The short version is that if 2/3rds of the members do not want the meeting to adjourn, it will not adjourn.

I have learned that they intend to do the same in the upcoming meeting, going over regular business until by the time to address the bylaws comes, and then end of the meeting, claiming lack of time. (Many of the people who will be coming usually don't attend the meetings, because of distance and work/time conflict, but are coming specifically to vote on this issue.)

Since the previous meeting adjourned with the motion to amend the bylaws pending, assuming your organization has not adopted an alternate order of business, that motion is unfinished business and should come immediately after reports are received at the next meeting. No new business (or regularly scheduled business, even) should be accepted until the motion is disposed of. A motion could also be made when no other business is pending, even right after the start of the meeting, to suspend the rules and take up the matter immediately.

I would enormously appreciate any insights

(info on impeaching board members would be interesting as well :-)

For removing an officer, see FAQ 20. For the rest, if something happens that you believe to be incorrect, raise a Point of Order; if you think that your presiding officer will not rule correctly on the issue, have another member prepared to second an Appeal so that the matter can be put before your assembly to decide upon.

I strongly recommend getting a copy of RONRIB. It's short (unlike the full rulebook), and if you read through it, you'll have a much better understanding of the rights of members of an organization.

* the term '2/3 majority' is oxymoronic

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Mathematically speaking (and what else can you be doing if you write "2/3")

There's no mathematical operator in the very common expression "two-thirds majority" (unless you want to count division as an operator in the fraction). You don't multiply a noun by an adjective.

From the National Archives: "The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures."

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From the National Archives: "The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures."

Well... The "National Archives" has it wrong!

The phrase "two thirds majority" (or "two-thirds majority") does NOT appear anywhere in the U. S. Constitution. What you quoted is written by someone who hasn't looked at the Constitution lately (since 1787?)

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Mathematically speaking (and what else can you be doing if you write "2/3")

2/3 majority == 2/3 * (more than 1/2) == more than 2/6 == more than 1/3

"2/3 majority" if not oxymoronic is certainly ambiguous.

Actually it is correct.

Definition of Majority is the old definition, the state of being greater or one of many new one - being more than half.

A Majority is more than half. 2/3 is a Majority that is greater than 2/3 (and also greater than half). A 1/3 Majority would be oxymoronic.

A 2/3 Majority means that any rules that require a Majority are satisfied as are any rules that requires 2/3.

By the way the Merriam-Webster Definition:

a number or percentage equaling more than half of a total

<a majority of voters> <a two-thirds majority>

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Regular business was dragged out, and after pro and con discussion was finished, and it was time to vote, the two board members wanted to end the meeting at the regular time. After an outcry, the meeting was extended 10 minutes, but then closed, despite a call for a vote to be taken.

Why are you letting two members dictate the terms of your meeting? "Being on the board" doesn't confer any special privileges in a meeting of the general membership. At the next meeting, move immediately to Suspend the Rules and take up the bylaw amendment—if the chair refuses to put your motion to a vote, be prepared to raise a Point of Order and possibly an Appeal. If the chair stonewalls you three times, you are entitled to put the motion to a vote yourself.

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A Majority is more than half. 2/3 is a Majority that is greater than 2/3 (and also greater than half).

A 2/3 Majority means that any rules that require a Majority are satisfied as are any rules that requires 2/3.

[i edited your quote slightly.]

I fear you are not being quite consistent -- which is where ambiguity can sneak in.

Your first line implies that "2/3 majority" defines a vote threshold that is MORE THAN 2/3 of the votes cast.

Your second line correctly implies that a "2/3 majority" threshold is AT LEAST 2/3 of the votes cast.

Best to avoid the phrase altogether and stick with the consistent definitions in RONR.

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Why are you letting two members dictate the terms of your meeting? "Being on the board" doesn't confer any special privileges in a meeting of the general membership. At the next meeting, move immediately to Suspend the Rules and take up the bylaw amendment—if the chair refuses to put your motion to a vote, be prepared to raise a Point of Order and possibly an Appeal. If the chair stonewalls you three times, you are entitled to put the motion to a vote yourself.

thanks for the suggestion. Part of the problem is that it is a fairly new-ish fellowship, and doesn't have a firm background in either using robert's rules of order, or following the 12 traditions that most other 12 step fellowships use (the "traditions" are guidelines that help create unity and avoid contentiousness).

There is a partisan break over an issue which has been very divisive, as well as a difference of opinion regarding authority - some of the members of the board don't realize they don't have any special privileges. Currently, since the rules of order are only partially followed, it's hard to address this in a room w/ over 300 people, and not a clear structure in which to resolve issues.

Many thanks for the insights. (BTW, this hullaballoo takes place in oakland)

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That's why the rules of order follow a pattern of formality—to smoothly and fairly deal with situations that may be quite contentious. The casual approach feels good, but when things get hot, it leads to confusion and injustice. You may want to bring in a parliamentarian to do a workshop and show your members the basics.

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And to find one to give that workshop...

If you anticipate that you might

have continuing parliamentary

difficulties or problems you

might want to get in touch with

a real live professional

parliamentarian in your area

(not virtual ones like us)

for consultations.

Contact either (or both) the ...

National Association of Parliamentarians

213 South Main St.

Independence, MO 64050-3850

Phone: 888-627-2929

Fax: 816-833-3893;

e-mail: hq@NAP2.org

<<www.parliamentarians.org>>

or

American Institute of Parliamentarians

550M Ritchie Highway #271

Severna Park, MD 21146

Phone: 888-664-0428

Fax: 410-544-4640

e-mail: aip@aipparl.org

<<www.aipparl.org>>

for a reference or information.

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