Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums
Sean Hunt

Dealing with multiple voting thresholds in an election

Recommended Posts

The following question is largely hypothetical, but is one that a group I'm a proud part of might theoretically have to grapple with at some point in the future. Still, it's asked mostly out of curiosity.

A society has an officer position which is appointed by its board, by majority vote (a majority vote is specifically provided for in the bylaws). The appointee need not be a member of the board, but normally must be a member of the society. The bylaws allow that for rule that the appointee must be a member of the society to be suspended by unanimous consent. Assume that the bylaws are correctly interpreted as only requiring the unanimous consent at the point when the appointment is made (it is not a requirement for nomination, for instance).

If there were multiple candidates to the position, some of whom were members of the society, and some of whom were not, how would you approach the actual making of the decision? I can see a few reasonable approaches to this, but maybe there are more.

1. You could take a vote normally, and if a candidate from outside the society receives a majority, at that point ask for unanimous consent for them to be appointed.

2. You could take a vote normally, except require that a candidate from outside the society receive a vote with no votes cast for another candidate (if by ballot) or no votes opposed (if viva voce). If such a candidate receives a majority but has at least one opposing vote, then voting must continue.

3. You could ask for unanimous consent for each of the non-member candidates immediately before the vote, disqualifying any candidates objected to before the vote is taken.

4. If making the appointment by ballot, each ballot could additionally include something like "Do you object to Mr. Xenophon being appointed as a non-member?" for each non-member candidate, who would require a majority of the original votes in addition to having no objections lodged against him or her.

I think that most of these have their advantages and disadvantages. A board member may be inclined to object in order to push for a preferred candidate; is that a good or a bad thing? Should the system encourage it (by requiring objections before the assembly's preference is known) or not? Is number 4 even in order, placing unanimous consent (which is not a vote) on a ballot?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The following question is largely hypothetical, but is one that a group I'm a proud part of might theoretically have to grapple with at some point in the future. Still, it's asked mostly out of curiosity.

A society has an officer position which is appointed by its board, by majority vote (a majority vote is specifically provided for in the bylaws). The appointee need not be a member of the board, but normally must be a member of the society. The bylaws allow that for rule that the appointee must be a member of the society to be suspended by unanimous consent. Assume that the bylaws are correctly interpreted as only requiring the unanimous consent at the point when the appointment is made (it is not a requirement for nomination, for instance).

If there were multiple candidates to the position, some of whom were members of the society, and some of whom were not, how would you approach the actual making of the decision? I can see a few reasonable approaches to this, but maybe there are more.

1. You could take a vote normally, and if a candidate from outside the society receives a majority, at that point ask for unanimous consent for them to be appointed.

2. You could take a vote normally, except require that a candidate from outside the society receive a vote with no votes cast for another candidate (if by ballot) or no votes opposed (if viva voce). If such a candidate receives a majority but has at least one opposing vote, then voting must continue.

3. You could ask for unanimous consent for each of the non-member candidates immediately before the vote, disqualifying any candidates objected to before the vote is taken.

4. If making the appointment by ballot, each ballot could additionally include something like "Do you object to Mr. Xenophon being appointed as a non-member?" for each non-member candidate, who would require a majority of the original votes in addition to having no objections lodged against him or her.

I think that most of these have their advantages and disadvantages. A board member may be inclined to object in order to push for a preferred candidate; is that a good or a bad thing? Should the system encourage it (by requiring objections before the assembly's preference is known) or not? Is number 4 even in order, placing unanimous consent (which is not a vote) on a ballot?

 

I don't think the second option is in order without special rules of order. I think the fourth option is in order, as it properly treats the motion to Suspend the Rules and the election as separate questions. I don't think it really places unanimous consent on a ballot. It's still a vote, it's just that a unanimous vote will be required for adoption. The language should probably be reworded to clarify this, such as "Shall the rules be suspended to permit Mr. Xenophon (a non-member) to be appointed as an officer?" The first option is probably my personal preference, with the third option being my second choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now that Mr. Martin has broken the ice, I'll venture a few thoughts.

 

Mr. Hunt refers to this process as both an appointment and election. I used to think that the former applied when the authority to fill the office was vested in one person (e.g. the president) while the latter applies when that authority is vested in a group (e.g. the board). But I think I've since been persuaded that an election is just one method of making an appointment. Though I'm still not sure why Mr. Hunt would use both terms (presumably interchangeably).

 

So I'm wondering if, in this instance, it might not be best for the board to consider possible candidates before making a motion or holding an election (which it can do if the board is small enough). Then, if one candidate seems to be the most popular, make a motion to appoint her to the office in question. If that candidate isn't a member of the organization then first make a motion to suspend the rules. If that fails then there's no point considering that candidate.

 

Or suspend the rules first and open the election (appointment?) to all candidates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If there were multiple candidates to the position, some of whom were members of the society, and some of whom were not, how would you approach the actual making of the decision?

 

The fact that there are some candidates nominated who are members of the society indicates that there is not unanimous consent to the appointment of persons who aren't members of the society, wouldn't you say?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. Hunt refers to this process as both an appointment and election. I used to think that the former applied when the authority to fill the office was vested in one person (e.g. the president) while the latter applies when that authority is vested in a group (e.g. the board). But I think I've since been persuaded that an election is just one method of making an appointment. Though I'm still not sure why Mr. Hunt would use both terms (presumably interchangeably).

I see the terms as being effectively interchangeable in the context of a selection made by an assembly. I think that using one or the other throughout would be better, however, and I apologize for not doing so.

So I'm wondering if, in this instance, it might not be best for the board to consider possible candidates before making a motion or holding an election (which it can do if the board is small enough). Then, if one candidate seems to be the most popular, make a motion to appoint her to the office in question. If that candidate isn't a member of the organization then first make a motion to suspend the rules. If that fails then there's no point considering that candidate.

The fact that there are some candidates nominated who are members of the society indicates that there is not unanimous consent to the appointment of persons who aren't members of the society, wouldn't you say?

In the real-world example I'm drawing from, applications are made to the position and it is simply assumed as a matter of custom that all applicants are nominated. So it may well be that a candidate has no support. Discussing things informally in a small board might work well; I hadn't thought of that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Nancy N.

The fact that there are some candidates nominated who are members of the society indicates that there is not unanimous consent to the appointment of persons who aren't members of the society, wouldn't you say?

... In the real-world example I'm drawing from, applications are made to the position and it is simply assumed as a matter of custom that all applicants are nominated. So it may well be that a candidate has no support. Discussing things informally in a small board might work well; I hadn't thought of that.

 

It seems reasonable to me that some members might like a member-candidate, but seeing that a non-member garnered widespread support, would not object, perhaps even liking him almost as much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 . . .  it is simply assumed as a matter of custom that all applicants are nominated. 

 

Perhaps it's time to end that custom?

 

At the risk of repeating myself, it seems this board is conflating of an appointment process (with applicants for the position) with an election process (with nominees). I realize there's an overlap but I think there also may be some useful distinctions. If the current process isn't working it might be better to try a different process rather than try to patch the current one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although you claim that the bylaws allow nominations of non-members but not their election (without unanimous consent), I still believe that if anyone who is not a member is nominated, that is the time to clarify whether such person(s) will be eligible for election.  Otherwise, how can the chair know whether the nomination is in order or not?  If anyone is nominated who is not eligible, that would be a good time to say something.

 

A member could ask unanimous consent before nominations begin that the rule be suspended, or if not, the chair can inquire whether there is objection to a given nomination on those grounds, at the time of the nomination.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If a nonmember can be nominated but not elected, isn't that like saying that a motion can be made that the society can't adopt?

I recall a long conversation about the admissibility of motions to amend special rules of order without notice and without a majority of members present. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If a nonmember can be nominated but not elected, isn't that like saying that a motion can be made that the society can't adopt?

 

Yes.  And since it would not be correct to say such a thing, the chair should rule such a motion (or nomination) out of order.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The fact that there are some candidates nominated who are members of the society indicates that there is not unanimous consent to the appointment of persons who aren't members of the society, wouldn't you say?

 

I would not. :) The nomination of the member may have been made prior to that of the nonmember, or the nominator may be happy with the nonmember, provided the nonmember gets a majority vote.

 

In answer to the question, nominating a nonmember that would not meet the qualifications (unanimous consent), if elected, would be tantamount to adopting an amendment that would cause the question to be out of order (p. 138, ll. 24-25), and improper.  When taking nominations, it would be advisable to ask if there are any objections to the nonmember being considered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...