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RR view on the use of Technology - How do you account for Members joining meetings via phone and/or SKYPE ?


Guest Rob
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For an upcoming Board meeting in which elections will be held, I've had a few Regular Members who are allowed to vote via our charter/by-laws, ask if they can phone in or join via SYPE. I have no issue with that but how do I account for them? Do they count as attendees? Can they participate in the vote and should they count towards my denominator when factoring in what it will take to get a majority vote for the nominees?

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Unless the bylaws authorize absentee voting, they may not vote at all.

"It is a fundamental principle of parliamentary law that the right to vote is limited to the members of an organization who are actually present at the time the vote is taken in a regular or properly called meeting, although it should be noted that a member need not be present when the question is put. Exceptions to this rule must be expressly stated in the bylaws. "  RONR (11th ed.), p. 423

 

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Our charter does allow for absentee ballots so I guess you're saying that's the route in which it must be done. I struggle with how folks send in absentee ballots when additional folks could get nominated at the meeting so they wouldn't be privy to that information unless they are dialed in. 

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2 minutes ago, Guest Rob said:

Our charter does allow for absentee ballots so I guess you're saying that's the route in which it must be done. I struggle with how folks send in absentee ballots when additional folks could get nominated at the meeting so they wouldn't be privy to that information unless they are dialed in. 

RONR also says:

" An organization should never adopt a bylaw permitting a question to be decided by a voting procedure in which the votes of persons who attend a meeting are counted together with ballots mailed in by absentees. The votes of those present could be affected by debate, by amendments, and perhaps by the need for repeated balloting, while those absent would be unable to adjust their votes to reflect these factors. Consequently, the absentee ballots would in most cases be on a somewhat different question than that on which those present were voting, leading to confusion, unfairness, and inaccuracy in determining the result"  RONR (11th ed.), p. 423

Your group might want to fix that.

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I'm clear on the votes cast and the need to always have the quorum. I guess the question I'm asking is if I have a quorum and the total members that can vote in the room is at 20 people the majority needed is 11 votes.....but if 6 more members arrive when voting for the next position/item taking the total voting members to 26 does the next vote need 14 favorable votes....can the denominator of what's used to determine the majority change as people come and go or is it establish up front with those that are present?

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ok, I'm confused now....FAQ#6 says an abstention is effectively a "no" vote so how could it not count when determining a majority vote?

Example:

20 members with voting rights are present (10 vote yes, 8 vote no, and 2 abstain)....wouldn't the majority required be 11 "yes" votes since 20 members were present?

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15 minutes ago, Guest Rob said:

ok, I'm confused now....FAQ#6 says an abstention is effectively a "no" vote so how could it not count when determining a majority vote?

Example:

20 members with voting rights are present (10 vote yes, 8 vote no, and 2 abstain)....wouldn't the majority required be 11 "yes" votes since 20 members were present?

Read it again.

FAQ #6 says that only if the vote required is a majority or two thirds of the members present, or a majority or two thirds of the entire membership, will an abstention have the same effect as a “no” vote. 

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Ok, I think I got it. So unless my charter specifies majority or two third "present" (which it doesn't) and it says the default is Roberts Rules then (1) as long as I have a quorum I can hold the vote and (2) the majority is determined based on the how many yes/no (legal) votes are cast and abstentions have no bearing - correct?

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4 hours ago, Guest Rob said:

Thank you - we will for sure. I have members that have also inquired about leaving early or arriving late. If members with voting rights leave early or arrive late does the denominator to determine the majority shift accordingly?

Not if the requirement is an ordinary "majority vote", as opposed to  "a majority of the members present" or "a majority of the entire membership".   If the requirement is an ordinary majority vote, it is based on the number of members voting, not the number present. A vote of 2 to1 is a majority vote.  So is a vote of 1 to 0.  It doesn't  matter how many are present as long as you have a quorum.

Edited by Richard Brown
added last seven words
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On 10/18/2017 at 1:26 PM, Guest Rob said:

Thank you - we will for sure. I have members that have also inquired about leaving early or arriving late. If members with voting rights leave early or arrive late does the denominator to determine the majority shift accordingly?

The "denominator" to determine a majority does not depend on how many people are in the room, but on how many people actually vote, presuming the number present constitutes a quorum.

E.g., if there are twenty people in the room, five people vote yes, and four people vote no, that's a majority.  As long as there are more Yes votes than No votes, that's a majority.  Numerators and denominators are unnecessary.

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Wait a minute! The question first posed was about joining some members to the meeting electronically. That has nothing to to with absentee voting. It has to do with whether or not electronic meetings are authorized in the bylaws. If they are, then members so joined to a meeting are full participating members in the meeting.

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