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Debate in an Election - Repeated Balloting


Josh Martin
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Suppose that an assembly conducts a ballot vote for an election and no one is elected after the first round of balloting because no candidate receives a majority vote.

  • Is debate automatically reopened?
  • If not, is a motion to reopen debate in order? What vote is required?

 

 

My assumption is that debate is in order only while nominations are in order.

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Suppose that an assembly conducts a ballot vote for an election and no one is elected after the first round of balloting because no candidate receives a majority vote.

  • Is debate automatically reopened?
  • If not, is a motion to reopen debate in order? What vote is required?

 

 

What is it that would be debated?

 

It would seem to me that during the balloting (i.e votes being cast), debate would be out of order.  Also, as a general rule, debate is out of order if no question is pending, so...... ????

 

After the results are announced and the election determined to be incomplete, it would seem that there would need to be something pending to debate, and the most likely "something" would be additional nominations.  Did you have something else in mind, Josh?

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What is it that would be debated?

 

Presumably, the assembly would debate who is the best candidate for office.

 

It would seem to me that during the balloting (i.e votes being cast), debate would be out of order.

 

Certainly. My question was whether debate was in order between rounds of balloting.

 

Also, as a general rule, debate is out of order if no question is pending, so...... ????

 

After the results are announced and the election determined to be incomplete, it would seem that there would need to be something pending to debate, and the most likely "something" would be additional nominations.  Did you have something else in mind, Josh?

 

What I had in mind was primarily further debate on the existing nominations.

 

I quite agree with Dan that, as a general rule, it would be preferable to reopen nominations. There may be circumstances, however, where the assembly does not wish to reopen nominations, or where the assembly's rules do not permit this.

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What I had in mind was primarily further debate on the existing nominations.

 

I quite agree with Dan that, as a general rule, it would be preferable to reopen nominations. There may be circumstances, however, where the assembly does not wish to reopen nominations, or where the assembly's rules do not permit this.

 

So the question then I suppose is whether nominations remain as "pending questions" to be debated between rounds of balloting.  Hadn't really thought of it that way, but obviously each nominee remains nominated until the election is complete, so it would seem so.  That being the case, while it might be best to re-open nominations as a matter of course, whether it's necessary in order to resume debate on the previously nominated candidates doesn't seem an absolute.  Hmmmm.....

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 There is a question pending until the election is complete. RONR states that "A nomination is, in effect, a proposal to fill the blank in an assumed motion "that ______ be elected to the specified position." (p. 430, ll.4-6), so that motion remains pending after the blank is filled with all the nominations. Presumably that motion is debatable by itself, separate from the nominations, in the same way that a main motion is debatable separately from amendments to it (filling a blank is noted as closely related to the process of amendment (p.162, ll.23-25).  I agree, though, that the only issue that appears to be debatable is the relative qualifications of the nominees. 

 

I wonder. though, if re-opening nominations is not possible, what kind of motion would one use to re-open debate? Would it be a form of limit or extend the limits of debate?

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 There is a question pending until the election is complete. RONR states that "A nomination is, in effect, a proposal to fill the blank in an assumed motion "that ______ be elected to the specified position." (p. 430, ll.4-6), so that motion remains pending after the blank is filled with all the nominations. Presumably that motion is debatable by itself, separate from the nominations, in the same way that a main motion is debatable separately from amendments to it (filling a blank is noted as closely related to the process of amendment (p.162, ll.23-25).  I agree, though, that the only issue that appears to be debatable is the relative qualifications of the nominees. 

 

I agree with your conclusion that a question is pending until the election is complete, but I don't agree with your reasoning. The assumed motion "that ______ be elected to the specified position" is not itself debatable "in the same way that a main motion is debatable separately from amendments to it" or even in the way that a pending motion is debatable after a blank has been filled. Unlike in those cases, this motion is not considered separately. Once the blank is filled, the election is complete automatically - no further debate is in order on the assumed motion. It's more like filling a blank in a motion which has already been adopted.

 

Making nominations, however, does not fill the blank. These are merely suggestions to fill the blank. The blank is not filled until the election is completed. Therefore, the question of filling the blank is pending until the election is complete.

 

I wonder. though, if re-opening nominations is not possible, what kind of motion would one use to re-open debate? Would it be a form of limit or extend the limits of debate?

 

That certainly seems like one option. I'm contemplating whether there may be others. I'm not sure that a 2/3 vote should always be required.

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I'm curious why nominations would have to be open at all for an election to be debateable. On top of the fact that I can't think of anything in the book to support that view, it has been the practice in every organization I have been a part of to ascertain who is running before entertaining debate (and the debate initially has usually included questions asked of the candidates and answered in turn, which I know is not technically correct).

 

I would say that there is nothing indicating that the election becomes a new question, so absent any motions adopted otherwise, members' opportunities to debate an election do not reset between ballots.

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...it has been the practice in every organization I have been a part of to ascertain who is running before entertaining debate (and the debate initially has usually included questions asked of the candidates and answered in turn, which I know is not technically correct).

 

It's perfectly correct if the assembly adopts its own rules on the subject.

 

Debate is virtually unheard of for elections in most assemblies I have been a part of (or served as a parliamentarian for), but my experience is consistent with yours in the rare few where debate is a regular feature of elections.

 

I would say that there is nothing indicating that the election becomes a new question, so absent any motions adopted otherwise, members' opportunities to debate an election do not reset between ballots.

 

Yes, that was my conclusion as well. So I think Extend Limits of Debate may not be the only answer, but it is the appropriate tool if the assembly wishes for members who have exhausted their right to debate on the election nominations to speak in debate.

Edited by Josh Martin
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Yes, that was my conclusion as well. So I think Extend Limits of Debate may not be the only answer, but it is the appropriate tool if the assembly wishes for members who have exhausted their right to debate on the election to speak in debate.

 

But it is nominations that are debated, not the election.

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In my opinion, debate on nominations should be limited to speeches which are made when making or seconding (even although not required) nominations. This, I think, is indicated by what is said on pages 206 and 207 of PL (and on pp. 165-67 as well).

 

I'll admit that nothing in RONR says that this is a rule of some sort, but there is precious little in RONR concerning debating nominations.

 

Isn't George Mervosh supposed to be our resident expert on this subject? :)

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In my opinion, debate on nominations should be limited to speeches which are made when making or seconding (even although not required) nominations. This, I think, is indicated by what is said on pages 206 and 207 of PL (and on pp. 165-67 as well).

 

I'll admit that nothing in RONR says that this is a rule of some sort, but there is precious little in RONR concerning debating nominations.

 

Isn't George Mervosh supposed to be our resident expert on this subject? :)

 

I wish, but I don't mind you doing the work for me.  :) 

 

I have PL sitting right in front of me today at the office because of this good question and yes, there is precious little about debating nominations (just what you quoted) in PL, and precious less about it in RONR. 

 

It seems crystal clear that neither book provides for debating the qualifications of candidates other than when nominations are in order (as you noted in post #2),  but I have to be honest, I had and still have my doubts about the propriety of re-opening nominations solely for the purpose of debating existing nominees, for the reason you noted in your first sentence of post 17 quoted above, but if you say its proper under RONR, I'll just note it and move on.

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I wish, but I don't mind you doing the work for me.  :)

 

I have PL sitting right in front of me today at the office because of this good question and yes, there is precious little about debating nominations (just what you quoted) in PL, and precious less about it in RONR. 

 

It seems crystal clear that neither book provides for debating the qualifications of candidates other than when nominations are in order (as you noted in post #2),  but I have to be honest, I had and still have my doubts about the propriety of re-opening nominations solely for the purpose of debating existing nominees, for the reason you noted in your first sentence of post 17 quoted above, but if you say its proper under RONR, I'll just note it and move on.

 

Well, I think a legitimate reason for moving that nominations be reopened might be in order to make a seconding speech in favor of a candidate already nominated.

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In my opinion, debate on nominations should be limited to speeches which are made when making or seconding (even although not required) nominations. This, I think, is indicated by what is said on pages 206 and 207 of PL (and on pp. 165-67 as well).

 

I'll admit that nothing in RONR says that this is a rule of some sort, but there is precious little in RONR concerning debating nominations.

 

Well, I think a legitimate reason for moving that nominations be reopened might be in order to make a seconding speech in favor of a candidate already nominated.

 

Is it in order for members to make statements opposed to or critical of candidates, or is it only in order to make speeches in favor of candidates?

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Is it in order for members to make statements opposed to or critical of candidates, or is it only in order to make speeches in favor of candidates?

 

I find this too broad a question to answer without involving too much typing on my part. If you will provide a number of examples of what you have in mind, both as to exactly what the statement is and the context in which it is made, it will make a response much easier. It may also make the answer rather obvious on the face of it.

 

Generally speaking, relevant information of an adverse nature concerning a candidate may be included in a request for information addressed to a member making a nominating or seconding speech in favor of that candidate, or in a nominating or seconding speech in support of another candidate. However, I think a great deal of care and discretion is required in this regard.

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I was typing this as Mr. Honemann posted his reply.  What about this for an example, Dan?

 

In an election for Treasurer, where the incumbent, Member A, is running for the Treasurer's post again -

 

"Member B, if elected Treasurer, will ensure that the society can once again begin receiving timely reports of our bank balances and dues payments received, and make sure that our bills will now be paid on time. I urge you to vote for Member B."

 

(I don't want to inundate you with what-if's, but I agree there's a way to do this great care)

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I was typing this as Mr. Honemann posted his reply.  What about this for an example, Dan?

 

In an election for Treasurer, where the incumbent, Member A, is running for the Treasurer's post again -

 

"Member B, if elected Treasurer, will ensure that the society can once again begin receiving timely reports of our bank balances and dues payments received, and make sure that our bills will now be paid on time. I urge you to vote for Member B."

 

(I don't want to inundate you with what-if's, but I agree there's a way to do this great care)

 

This is an excellent example of one way to go about it. :)

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I find this too broad a question to answer without involving too much typing on my part. If you will provide a number of examples of what you have in mind, both as to exactly what the statement is and the context in which it is made, it will make a response much easier. It may also make the answer rather obvious on the face of it.

 

Generally speaking, relevant information of an adverse nature concerning a candidate may be included in a request for information addressed to a member making a nominating or seconding speech in favor of that candidate, or in a nominating or seconding speech in support of another candidate. However, I think a great deal of care and discretion is required in this regard.

 

I'm actually pretty satisfied with the "generally speaking" answer and, with those principles in mind, I believe the examples I was thinking of "make the answer rather obvious on the face of it." But to make sure I'm not terribly off-base in my thinking...

 

The example I was thinking of for debate which was clearly in order: "Candidate A's statements show how she is willing to work with others to accomplish the organization's goals. Conversely, Candidate B's approach seems more confrontational, and I don't think that is what our organization needs. I urge you all to vote for Candidate A."

 

Conversely, the example I was thinking of for debate which was clearly not in order: "I am concerned about the integrity of our candidates. Certain statements in the materials distributed by Candidate C raise questions regarding his integrity, and..."

 

Essentially, I think the bottom line is that a bit more latitude is afforded in elections since the candidates are the subject of the pending question, but the rules pertaining to germaneness and decorum are still in force, and so, as you say, "a great deal of care and discretion" is required with regards to adverse statements about candidates.

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I'm actually pretty satisfied with the "generally speaking" answer and, with those principles in mind, I believe the examples I was thinking of "make the answer rather obvious on the face of it." But to make sure I'm not terribly off-base in my thinking...

 

The example I was thinking of for debate which was clearly in order: "Candidate A's statements show how she is willing to work with others to accomplish the organization's goals. Conversely, Candidate B's approach seems more confrontational, and I don't think that is what our organization needs. I urge you all to vote for Candidate A."

 

Conversely, the example I was thinking of for debate which was clearly not in order: "I am concerned about the integrity of our candidates. Certain statements in the materials distributed by Candidate C raise questions regarding his integrity, and..."

 

Essentially, I think the bottom line is that a bit more latitude is afforded in elections since the candidates are the subject of the pending question, but the rules pertaining to germaneness and decorum are still in force, and so, as you say, "a great deal of care and discretion" is required with regards to adverse statements about candidates.

 

I see nothing "off-base" in any of this. :)

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