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Guest Matt McCool

Order of discussion, "For" and "Against"

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Guest Matt McCool

If you are apart of a organization that is has an annual meeting to discuss proposals to amend their bylaws/constitution, is there a proper order in which the discussion is conducted?  Such as, if there are only 3 people who are allowed to speak "For" a proposal and 3 people allowed to speak "Against" a proposal, does it matter in what order these people speak?  For example, 1 person for, followed by 1 person against, followed by 1 for, followed by 1 against, followed by 1 for, followed by 1 against?  As opposed to all 3 that are for a proposal speaking 3 times in a row followed by all 3 that speak against 3 times in a row?  Would that cause an unfair debate?

 

Thank You! 

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RONR has no limits on the number of people who can speak, only the number of times and the length of speeches.

So if you change that by limiting numbers who can speak you will have to sort out any additional rules of your own.

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RONR does suggest that the chair might alternate between the opposing sides when recognizing them to speak, if he has that information. Generally, however, it is impossible to know what people are going to say before they say it, so they are handled in the order that he sees them.

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Generally, however, it is impossible to know what people are going to say before they say it, so they are handled in the order that he sees them.

 

One method is to form two lines of speakers, one "for" and one "against".

 

(If Mr. McCool's organization has a six-speaker limit I wonder how those six are chosen.) 

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One method is to form two lines of speakers, one "for" and one "against".

 

(If Mr. McCool's organization has a six-speaker limit I wonder how those six are chosen.) 

Yes, but even then, the person in line might change his opinion while listening to one of the other speakers and end up speaking against it when he was previously for it.

 

I also wonder about the six-speaker limit. To me, that seems more "unfair" than having all of one side speak first. It would be easy to manipulate by having several people speak against the motion but giving reasons that don't hurt the argument of the favoring side. "I oppose this amendment because we've always done it the other way."

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Guest Matt McCool

Our organization sets these parameters before the discussion of each topic (proposal) is discussed.  They set it so only 3 can speak for a proposal and 3 speak against for time constraints.  I would like to know what Roberts Rules says about what order they speak.  We have been having the 3 that are for a proposal speak 3 times in a row, followed by the 3 people against, and more often than not, because the 3 that are against a proposal get the last word three times in a row, a leans the vote their way heavily in their favor.  I went up to the front and made a motion that the 2 sides alternate so that there is actually some debate and discussion instead of 3 statements followed by 3 statements with no chance for the "For" side to answer any concerns of the "Against" speakers.  I don't see an even debate in that.  Yet the room of 200 plus people voted against my idea, only about 12 people voted for my idea.  Are there any Roberts Rules for the order in which the people speak in this situation and why is the rule?

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Yes, but even then, the person in line might change his opinion while listening to one of the other speakers and end up speaking against it when he was previously for it.

 

If he changes his mind while waiting in line I would think he'd move to the other line.

 

I also wonder about the six-speaker limit. To me, that seems more "unfair" than having all of one side speak first. It would be easy to manipulate by having several people speak against the motion but giving reasons that don't hurt the argument of the favoring side. "I oppose this amendment because we've always done it the other way."

 

Well, even if we assume everyone will honestly express their own opinions to the best of their ability,there's no guarantee that the most articulate and persuasive will be among the chosen few.

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Guest Matt McCool

Our organization sets these parameters before the discussion of each topic (proposal) is discussed.  They set it so only 3 can speak for a proposal and 3 speak against for time constraints.  I would like to know what Roberts Rules says about what order they speak.  We have been having the 3 that are for a proposal speak 3 times in a row, followed by the 3 people against, and more often than not, because the 3 that are against a proposal get the last word three times in a row, a leans the vote their way heavily in their favor.  I went up to the front and made a motion that the 2 sides alternate so that there is actually some debate and discussion instead of 3 statements followed by 3 statements with no chance for the "For" side to answer any concerns of the "Against" speakers.  I don't see an even debate in that.  Yet the room of 200 plus people voted against my idea, only about 12 people voted for my idea.  Are there any Roberts Rules for the order in which the people speak in this situation and why is the rule?

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 Yet the room of 200 plus people voted against my idea, only about 12 people voted for my idea.  

 

It would appear that the assembly has clearly expressed its will.

 

Although unless the rule prohibiting all but six members from exercising their right to debate is enshrined in the bylaws, I suspect your six-speaker limit may be illegitimate.

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"In cases where the chair knows that persons seeking the floor have opposite opinions on the question...the chair should let the floor alternate, as far as possible, between those favoring and those opposing the measure." (RONR pg. 379-380)

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Guest Matt McCool

You all are not answering my real question, is there a rule on the order in which they speak?  They are not allowed to speak for a side if 3 have already gone ahead of them.  They are not pre selected, they are on the spot volunteers.

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As Mr. Fish points out the rules regarding preference in recognition when a question is immediately pending are on RONR pp. 379-380 and the "rule" your organization uses isn't in there.  However, let me ask you, is this rule actually located in the bylaws and if not by what authority are the people citing in order to impose the 3&3 rule?

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You all are not answering my real question, is there a rule on the order in which they speak?

 

The alternating method has been mentioned at least four times. But it's not a rule, just a suggestion (a suggestion your membership seems to have overwhelmingly rejected).

 

Perhaps you can now answer Mr. Harrison's question.

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You all are not answering my real question, is there a rule on the order in which they speak?  They are not allowed to speak for a side if 3 have already gone ahead of them.  They are not pre selected, they are on the spot volunteers.

 

I suppose you posted this before you saw the response in post #10.

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You all are not answering my real question, is there a rule on the order in which they speak?  They are not allowed to speak for a side if 3 have already gone ahead of them.  They are not pre selected, they are on the spot volunteers.

Several people have answered the question on alternating sides.

 

But I submit that the "real" question is how the discussion came to be limited to only six people.  Since the right to participate in debate is a fundamental right of membership, that strikes me as a far more serious matter than the order of speakers.

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If you are apart of a organization that is has an annual meeting to discuss proposals to amend their bylaws/constitution, is there a proper order in which the discussion is conducted?  Such as, if there are only 3 people who are allowed to speak "For" a proposal and 3 people allowed to speak "Against" a proposal, does it matter in what order these people speak?  For example, 1 person for, followed by 1 person against, followed by 1 for, followed by 1 against, followed by 1 for, followed by 1 against?  As opposed to all 3 that are for a proposal speaking 3 times in a row followed by all 3 that speak against 3 times in a row?  Would that cause an unfair debate?

 

As a general rule, when more than one member seeks recognition at about the same time, the chair should alternate between members speaking in favor of a motion and members speaking against a motion, to the extent possible. (RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 379-380)

 

But when your assembly chooses to limit speakers to three in favor and three against, it is also free to choose a different order if it wishes. I agree that this doesn't seem very wise, but I'm not the person you need to convince.

 

But I submit that the "real" question is how the discussion came to be limited to only six people.  Since the right to participate in debate is a fundamental right of membership, that strikes me as a far more serious matter than the order of speakers.

 

We are told that "Our organization sets these parameters before the discussion of each topic (proposal) is discussed." Presumably, then, this is accomplished by means of a motion to Limit Debate.

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