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Guest Pamela

Nominations Committee Slate Disregarded

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Guest Pamela

The Nominations Committee (NC) consists of 2 board members (president and past president with the past president chairing the NC) and 3 non-board members.  I am 1 of the 3 non-board members.  As required in the bylaws, the NC was appointed by the board.  The NC met and prepared a list of 9 candidates for election to the board of which there were 6 open slots.  One candidate withdrew their nomination so that left us with 8 candidates to fill 6 slots.  The NC agreed to have an elections in which our members would be able to vote in person at the future scheduled meeting in May or by absentee voting if they were not at the meeting and this seems consistent with our bylaws which state that "the board members shall be elected by a majority vote of members in present or absentee at the meeting at which such election is held".

 

In previous years the NC would prepare a list of candidates to fill the exact spots needed.  For example, if there were 6 slots, the NC would prepare a lit of 6 candidates.  The vote would be held and the members present at the meeting would vote.  So if you were not at the meeting, you did not have a chance to vote absentee.  This year the NC decided to put forth 8 qualified candidates and a full vote of the membership in person or absentee. 

 

A few days after the NC prepared the slate but prior to the NC notifying the members of the slate, the board met just before our monthly meeting and voted on a new slate of candidates.  The new slate consisted of only 6 candidates.  The 6 candidates are all existing board members and whose term is up for renewal.  Five of the 6 candidates were present at the board meeting and voted on the new slate.  These 6 candidates were also part of the 8 candidates that the NC proposed.  I pointed out that this is not in accordance with the bylaws, that the board was not objective, and the work of the NC was disregarded.  The response I received is that the board suspended the rule of procedure related to the nominating/elections committee and so the board voted on a slate to be presented to the members that day (which the slate was presented to our members in attendance at the meeting without notifying the NC until the day after).  Also, I was informed that the board voiced concern about the ballot approach, the potential confusion it may have for our members and the precedence it would set, and concerns about the process for conducting the election so that all members could vote (we have over 2200 members).  Additionally, I was told the board took this approach because the NC would not have time to convene again since per the bylaws our slate had to be announced that day, so the next month nominations from the floor could be made and the following month we would have the vote.  Our year end is May 31 so that vote has to happen before this date. 

 

Our bylaws state the rules of procedure at meetings of the Chapter, of the Board of Governors, and of committees, shall be according to Robert's Rule of Order, so far as is applicable and when not inconsistent with the bylaws.  Our bylaws also state that the rules of procedure may be suspended by two-thirds vote of those present and voting at any meeting.

 

May questions are: 1) can the board suspend the rule of procedures related to the nominating/elections committee and vote on a new slate and 2) if not, what do you recommend we do to get this set right?  Time is of the essence.  Thank you for your guidance.

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I am assuming that the election will be held at a meeting of the General Membership not the Board.  If that is the case then:

 

1) The Board can't suspend the rules regarding nominations and elections because those are within the Membership's purview not the Board's.

2) At the Membership meeting, if the Board tries to substitute their "slate" for the Nominating Committee's raise a Point of Order that the job of making those nominations belongs to the Nominating Committee.  The President should rule the Point Well Taken and ask for the Committee's nominations but if not be prepared to Appeal the ruling (RONR pp. 255-260).  Even if the Appeal fails all is not lost since all 6 of the Board's nominations were also the Committee's as well so all you all need to do is to nominate the other 2 from the floor.

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It seems to me that point 2 of Mr. Harrison's reply will fail to be timely (in the general sense rather than the parliamentary sense) because the list of six nominees seems to be about to be sent to the membership somehow with no mention of the other two. The nominating committee may wish to see if it can obtain the support of a sympathetic board member (including one within its number) who might be able to unravel this mess before it's too late.

Furthermore, there is no such thing as a "slate" and members vote for six people to fill the six vacancies, some, all, or none of whom may have been nominated. There is definitely not any sort of up/down or single vote on a group of people; this is completely improper.

As a less urgent matter, I recommend amending the bylaws so that the president is not a member of the nominating committee, as this is strongly discouraged in order to avoid any actual or perceived dominance over the committee. And while you're at it, the immediate past president should not have any role at all, not least because it causes all types of issues if the president is removed from office for being a nasty disagreeable piece of work.

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1) can the board suspend the rule of procedures related to the nominating/elections committee and vote on a new slate

 

No. The board cannot suspend the rules of a superior body (the general membership).

 

2) if not, what do you recommend we do to get this set right?

 

A member should raise a Point of Order at the next meeting that the report of the nominating committee included eight nominees, not six, and that the other two candidates should also be considered nominated by the committee. Follow that with an Appeal if the chair rules the point not well taken. A majority vote is sufficient to overturn the chair's ruling.

 

Alternately, you could simply nominate these candidates from the floor.

 

I'm also concerned that the board rejected using absentee votes and that the assembly has not used them in the past, since your bylaws specifically provide for absentee votes. It's a terrible idea to combine votes at a meeting with absentee votes and that rule should probably be amended in the future, but in the meantime the society is obliged to follow it. (Although I'm not sure why the nominating committee thinks its within its purview to make recommendations regarding how the election should be conducted. Normally, the role of the nominating committee is only to make nominations.)

 

It seems to me that point 2 of Mr. Harrison's reply will fail to be timely (in the general sense rather than the parliamentary sense) because the list of six nominees seems to be about to be sent to the membership somehow with no mention of the other two. The nominating committee may wish to see if it can obtain the support of a sympathetic board member (including one within its number) who might be able to unravel this mess before it's too late.

 

I disagree. The fact that the nominating committee's report is sent out in advance of the meeting does not, in my opinion, prevent a Point of Order from being raised at the membership meeting.

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I disagree. The fact that the nominating committee's report is sent out in advance of the meeting does not, in my opinion, prevent a Point of Order from being raised at the membership meeting.

Certainly. Which is why I made a reference to "in the general sense rather than the parliamentary sense", meaning that it seems too late to prevent the list of six nominees being sent out.

 

A Point of Order can certainly be made at the membership meeting, as can a motion to censure the board for usurping the nominating committee like that.

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