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Seconding a motion


Guest David Wilder
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We have 9 members in a homeowners association.  3 members each own one lot; 1 member owns 6 lots and therefore has 6 votes and can exercise a clear majority in any vote or motion that is presented.  If that majority member makes a motion, can he second his own motion and bring it to the floor?  Or does another member (one of the three owners who have one vote each) have to second it?  The question is: if that majority owner makes a motion as owner of lot #1, can he second that motion as owner of lot #2?  If not, then the 3 single lot owners can prevent any motion from the majority owner from introduction, discussion, or eventual voting.  If so, then that 6 lot owner can absolutely control the entire association and force his agenda on the rest of the association and owners, and any meeting would be pointless, unless the 3 individual owners subscribed to the views of the 6 lot owner.  

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I agree with Mr. Huynh's answer and will elaborate on it.

The issue of making and seconding and debating motions is separate from the issue of voting when your bylaws or controlling state law provide that voting is based on something other than "one man, one vote". 

Unless your bylaws or controlling law provide otherwise, RONR is clear that the rules for making, seconding and debating motions apply to each member regardless of how many votes he might have. Therefore, per RONR , the member owning six lots cannot second his own motions or speak six times as long or often than the other members. 

BTW , you said you have nine members. Are you sure that is right? It looks to me like you have four members but one of them might have six votes. What am I missing? Exactly how do your bylaws define a member?

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It sounds like you have four members, with differing numbers of votes.  RONR does not cover this situation directly since it does not meet the definition of a deliberative assembly.

In such a small group it is common to use "small board rules" which do not require motions to be seconded.

If a second is required, and your bylaws don't say otherwise, RONR says that a member other than the mover must second a motion.

 

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21 hours ago, Guest David Wilder said:

We have 9 members in a homeowners association.  3 members each own one lot; 1 member owns 6 lots and therefore has 6 votes and can exercise a clear majority in any vote or motion that is presented.  If that majority member makes a motion, can he second his own motion and bring it to the floor?  Or does another member (one of the three owners who have one vote each) have to second it?  The question is: if that majority owner makes a motion as owner of lot #1, can he second that motion as owner of lot #2?  If not, then the 3 single lot owners can prevent any motion from the majority owner from introduction, discussion, or eventual voting.  If so, then that 6 lot owner can absolutely control the entire association and force his agenda on the rest of the association and owners, and any meeting would be pointless, unless the 3 individual owners subscribed to the views of the 6 lot owner.  

In my opinion, the member wth six votes should not require seconds for his motions, or should be allowed to second his own motions. The reason for the requirement of a second is to prevent wasting the assembly’s time with a motion that only one member wants to be considered. In the ordinary case, if a motion is supported by only one member, it has no chance of passage. If one member controls 2/3 of the votes, however, his support means that passage is guaranteed.

This does effectively render meetings pointless, but this is not necessarily an unusual result when an assembly deviates from “one person, one vote.” Meetings of shareholders are similarly something of a formality, where often one or a handful of persons controls a majority of the voting power.

21 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

Unless your bylaws or controlling law provide otherwise, RONR is clear that the rules for making, seconding and debating motions apply to each member regardless of how many votes he might have.

I disagree. RONR assumes that all members have one vote, and that each member is one person. It does not address how the rules apply if one person has multiple votes, let alone if one person has 2/3 of the votes for the entire society.

Edited by Josh Martin
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6 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

In my opinion, the member wth six votes should not require seconds for his motions, or should be allowed to second his own motions. The reason for the requirement of a second is to prevent wasting the assembly’s time with a motion that only one member wants to be considered. In the ordinary case, if a motion is supported by only one member, it has no chance of passage. If one member controls 2/3 of the votes, however, his support means that passage is guaranteed.

This does effectively render meetings pointless, but this is not necessarily an unusual result when an assembly deviates from “one person, one vote.” Meetings of shareholders are similarly something of a formality, where often one or a handful of persons controls a majority of the voting power.

2

Josh, I disagree.  Assuming that this body has adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority, which it can do regardless of whether it meets the ordinary definition of a "deliberative assembly" because one member has multiple votes, RONR is quite plain that a motion must be seconded by a different member.

From "How a Motion is  Brought Before the Assembly" on page 32 of RONR:

1. A member makes the motion.

2. Another member seconds the motion  (emphasis added)

That's about as plain as it can be.

Perhaps it is ultimately up to this organization to interpret its own bylaws on this point, but if each person who owns property in the HOA is considered a member, then it is clear that a different member must second motions and that a member with multiple votes cannot second his own motion.  He might have six votes, but he is still only one person.  One member.   Unless the bylaws themselves (or controlling state law) define members differently, it is clear to me that the individual lot owners are members but that members may have different numbers of votes based on the number of units they own.    That doesn't turn a guy who owns six units into six members, but only gives him six votes. 

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1 hour ago, Richard Brown said:

Josh, I disagree.  Assuming that this body has adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority, which it can do regardless of whether it meets the ordinary definition of a "deliberative assembly" because one member has multiple votes, RONR is quite plain that a motion must be seconded by a different member.

From "How a Motion is  Brought Before the Assembly" on page 32 of RONR:

1. A member makes the motion.

2. Another member seconds the motion  (emphasis added)

That's about as plain as it can be.

Perhaps it is ultimately up to this organization to interpret its own bylaws on this point, but if each person who owns property in the HOA is considered a member, then it is clear that a different member must second motions and that a member with multiple votes cannot second his own motion.  He might have six votes, but he is still only one person.  One member.   Unless the bylaws themselves (or controlling state law) define members differently, it is clear to me that the individual lot owners are members but that members may have different numbers of votes based on the number of units they own.    That doesn't turn a guy who owns six units into six members, but only gives him six votes. 

If a guy controls six out of a total of nine votes entitled to be cast, I don't think that you should expect to be able to prevent him from doing pretty much whatever it is he wants to do. 

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16 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

Josh, I disagree.  Assuming that this body has adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority, which it can do regardless of whether it meets the ordinary definition of a "deliberative assembly" because one member has multiple votes, RONR is quite plain that a motion must be seconded by a different member.

From "How a Motion is  Brought Before the Assembly" on page 32 of RONR:

1. A member makes the motion.

2. Another member seconds the motion  (emphasis added)

That's about as plain as it can be.

Yes, but RONR makes this statement with the understanding that a member is one person with one vote, and more importantly...

“The requirement of a second is for the chair's guidance as to whether he should state the question on the motion, thus placing it before the assembly. Its purpose is to prevent time from being consumed by the assembly's having to dispose of a motion that only one person wants to see introduced.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 36)

But if that one member controls 2/3 of the votes, it hardly seems accurate to say that his motion is wasting the assembly’s time. In other words, the entire reasoning behind the requirement of the second is inapplicable in this case. Requiring a second would also mean that a single member can veto the voting power of 2/3 of the society.

I am not, by any means, suggesting that a member having multiple votes, in and of itself, eliminates the requirement for the second. But if a member controls a majority (let alone 2/3) of the votes, requiring a second for that member’s motions seems absurd.

Edited by Josh Martin
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On 11/5/2017 at 4:37 PM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

If a guy controls six out of a total of nine votes entitled to be cast, I don't think that you should expect to be able to prevent him from doing pretty much whatever it is he wants to do. 

Well if his motions require a second from a different member then you certainly could prevent him by never seconding any of his motions.

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13 minutes ago, SaintCad said:

Well if his motions require a second from a different member then you certainly could prevent him by never seconding any of his motions.

So you disagree with Mr. Martin's post where he explained " But if a member controls a majority (let alone 2/3) of the votes, requiring a second for that member’s motions seems absurd." ?  

And with 2/3 of the votes he can get away with suspending any rule he wants and win all appeals.  He's pretty much unstoppable.

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7 hours ago, SaintCad said:

Well if his motions require a second from a different member then you certainly could prevent him by never seconding any of his motions.

 

7 hours ago, George Mervosh said:

So you disagree with Mr. Martin's post where he explained " But if a member controls a majority (let alone 2/3) of the votes, requiring a second for that member’s motions seems absurd." ?  

And with 2/3 of the votes he can get away with suspending any rule he wants and win all appeals.  He's pretty much unstoppable.

What Mr. Martin wrote is perfectly logical, yet SaintCad makes a good case. Regardless of how absurd the results may seem, I agree with Mr. Brown that if the rules in RONR apply to meetings of this association, then before a motion is stated by the chair, it needs to be seconded by a member other than the one who made it. After all, as Guest David Wilder mentioned to begin with, there would be no point in even having meetings and motions and debates if one member controls the outcome anyway. Yet the association has adopted rules for having and conducting such meetings, so perhaps it ought to follow those rules.

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I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that anyone with half a brain, after reading the bylaws of this homeowners association and whatever laws are applicable thereto, will quickly discover a way to see to it that an owner of six out of a total of nine lots gets what he wants. It's like owning two-thirds of the voting shares of a corporation owned by its stockholders.

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26 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that anyone with half a brain, after reading the bylaws of this homeowners association and whatever laws are applicable thereto, will quickly discover a way to see to it that an owner of six out of a total of nine lots gets what he wants. It's like owning two-thirds of the voting shares of a corporation owned by its stockholders.

Ok. I wasn't really paying attention to the fact that SaintCad was responding to what you had said. I was thinking about "preventing" in terms of the normal way of doing business at a meeting.

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8 hours ago, George Mervosh said:

And with 2/3 of the votes he can get away with suspending any rule he wants and win all appeals.  He's pretty much unstoppable.

Except that Suspend the Rules and Appeal also require a second, so a lot may hinge on this answer.  I agree that as odd as it may seem, RONR appears to require a different member to second a motion, if seconds are required at all.

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8 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Except that Suspend the Rules and Appeal also require a second, so a lot may hinge on this answer.  I agree that as odd as it may seem, RONR appears to require a different member to second a motion, if seconds are required at all.

I don't believe that RONR tells us much of anything at all with respect to this particular question. It does tell us that it is a fundamental principle of parliamentary law that each person who is a member of a deliberative assembly is entitled to only one vote on a question (RONR, 11th ed., p. 407, ll. 1-4). As a consequence, RONR itself tells us that if a person is, in fact, entitled to more than one vote in a meeting body of some sort, that meeting body is not a deliberative assembly, and not all of the rules in RONR will be applicable to it (RONR, 11th ed., p. 2, ll. 4-5; ll. 19-24).

I agree with Mr. Martin when he says that, if a member controls a majority (let alone 2/3) of the votes, requiring a second for that member’s motions seems absurd. If application of a rule in RONR to a meeting body of some sort that is not a deliberative assembly seems absurd, I think that RONR itself tells us that that rule should not be regarded as being applicable.

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