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Ballot Change & Absentee Votes


preacherpipeweed
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In a recent organization business meeting we allowed absentee votes on a ballot which contained line items for voting on the annual budget, a proposal for a special use of funds, and several officers up for election and/or renewal to office. During the meeting, one of the officers withdrew his name for the position of chairman and another officer was put up for the position of chairman in his place. Members were asked to cross out the first name and write in the second name (the officer who replaced the man who stepped down). We found out later that our parlimentarian, due to the change of the ballot during the meeting, invalidated all the absentee votes (including their votes for other line items on the ballot).

Several members are objecting to the absentee votes being invalidated. Was there a parlimentary error committed?

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38 minutes ago, preacherpipeweed said:

In a recent organization business meeting we allowed absentee votes on a ballot which contained line items for voting on the annual budget, a proposal for a special use of funds, and several officers up for election and/or renewal to office. During the meeting, one of the officers withdrew his name for the position of chairman and another officer was put up for the position of chairman in his place. Members were asked to cross out the first name and write in the second name (the officer who replaced the man who stepped down). We found out later that our parlimentarian, due to the change of the ballot during the meeting, invalidated all the absentee votes (including their votes for other line items on the ballot).

Several members are objecting to the absentee votes being invalidated. Was there a parlimentary error committed?

Only the chair can make rulings.  Parliamentarians give advice.  But the parliamentarian may have given the correct advice.  You say "we allowed" absentee votes.  Who is "we" and how did "we" do that?  If your bylaws do not contain a rule regarding absentee voting, then it is prohibited by RONR.  Was that part of the basis of the parliamentarian's opinion?  

"Members were asked" by whom?  And on what authority?  Was this a decision of the assembly, or a directive from the chair based upon.... well, on what?

The assembly itself is the final arbiter of whether a ballot is valid or not.  If there is a question raised by the tellers, it is referred to the assembly, not to the chair the parliamentarian, or the bartender.  Failure to properly record a vote for one office may not be used to invalidate an entire ballot that contains other, valid votes.  (It is inconceivable that a parliamentarian would not know that.)

These members who "are objecting"--how are they doing so?  Grumbling and complaining to each other?  If members were improperly prevented from exercising their right to vote, and if that number could possibly have affected the outcome of the vote, then the vote is null and void and a member should formally raise a Point of Order to that effect at the next meeting. and be prepared to raise an Appeal if the ruling is unfavorable.

A new election is the only remedy I can see.

 

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Our Bylaws do allow absentee voting. The board's officers and members were not notified until the following day that the absentee ballots were not counted. Some grumbling has occured post-meeting, and now the focus is on determining (1) if a procedural error was committed and (2) how to recitify the situation. It is possible that the decision made/voted on for at least one or two line items (individual voting issues) on the ballot could be impacted by the inclusion of the absentee ballots (we won't know until they have been counted...the vote counters never even looked at them during the meeting as the parlimentarian ruled them invalid a priori).

I suspect your advice about a new election is perhaps the only way forward.

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Your problem is a bright shining example of what can (and did in your case) go wrong if you fail to pay attention to RONR page 423, lines 25ff.

After the dust settles, amend your bylaws to prevent the recurrence of this mess in the future.  About the only (fair) situation where in-house and out-house voting could be mixed would be in an election where the nominations were all made, and the nominations closed by bylaw rule, well before the ballots were printed and sent to the absentee voters.

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2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I'm unable to determine, from what has been posted, whether or not the results of the balloting have as yet been announced.

Yes. The results were announced at the end of that business meeting. The failture to include the absentee ballots was brought to the board's attention the following day.

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34 minutes ago, preacherpipeweed said:

Yes. The results were announced at the end of that business meeting. The failture to include the absentee ballots was brought to the board's attention the following day.

In this case, it would be interesting to see exactly what the tellers' report included, and to know exactly what the chair said in announcing the results.

In any event, as far as the rules in RONR are concerned, only the membership, and not the board, can resolve any dispute concerning the validity of the announced results. As of now, the results of the balloting stand as announced by the chair.

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