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Ex Officio eligibility ?


Guest Guest Mari
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There is general disagreement in our voting body as to what the term "ex officio" means and how that applies in a specific situation. Our bylaws specify that members of the board of elders as well as the offices of chairman and vice-chair are to be selected from the male voting assembly. All other offices and boards are to open to any member of the voting assembly. Several articles later, in describing the board of elders the secretary is listed as an ex officio member of that board. The contention of some members is that, because the secretary is ex officio, the position is open only to male members of the assembly. I don't think it ex officio works that way. Can anyone enlighten me?

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16 minutes ago, Guest Guest Mari said:

There is general disagreement in our voting body as to what the term "ex officio" means and how that applies in a specific situation. Our bylaws specify that members of the board of elders as well as the offices of chairman and vice-chair are to be selected from the male voting assembly. All other offices and boards are to open to any member of the voting assembly. Several articles later, in describing the board of elders the secretary is listed as an ex officio member of that board. The contention of some members is that, because the secretary is ex officio, the position is open only to male members of the assembly. I don't think it ex officio works that way. Can anyone enlighten me?

If you have accurately paraphrased your bylaws, I'm inclined to agree with you that nothing in your bylaws prevents a female from being elected secretary, and if she is elected, she will be, ex-officio, a member of the board of elders.

But I haven't read your bylaws, so don't take my word for it.  :)

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Guest Who's Coming to Dinner
2 hours ago, Guest Guest Mari said:

I don't think it ex officio works that way. Can anyone enlighten me?

Ex officio means "by virtue of office." The secretary is not elected or selected to serve on the Board of Elders. He or she holds a position on the board by virtue of being Secretary. If that person is qualified to hold the office of Secretary, then (s)he is automatically a member of the board.

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Agreeing with the previous responses, there might well be a bylaw provision which says that certain members of the board must be male and also a separate provision regarding the qualifications to be Secretary and a provision which ssys the Secretary shall ex officio be a member of the board.

If that is the case, per RONR, the more specific provision of the bylaws prevails over the more general provision. In my opinion, the specific provisions regarding the Secretary are the more specific and would control. In other words, the Secretary might well be an exception to the otherwise "all male" requirement.

 Ultimately, though, it is up to your organization to interpret its own bylaws. 

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