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Voting on Four Options


Guest rkparliament

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Hello, I have read through the faq and searched the previous posts, but still need some assistance in determining the best course for this issue in our association.

Our board was unable to decide on an issue surrounding a yearly event, so they decided to allow general membership to vote on the issue. In preparation for an upcoming general membership meeting, they have come up with four options for the event. The options are (1) keep event as is; (2) cancel event; (3) hold event in way that conflicts with option 1; (4) hold event in way that conflicts with option 1 and 3. Bylaws have no rules on voting that would trump the rules contained in RNOR in this situation.

The Board wants the membership to be able to vote between the options, but I'm not sure how this can be accomplished under RNOR. My understanding of how it would have to work is that the motion is presented and membership would need to vote for and against each option individually. Then, if say option 1 loses, and option 2 has a majority in favor, then option 3 and 4 would not be voted on unless 2/3 voted for option 3 or 4.

The closest procedure that I can find for what they would like to do is fill in the blank, which would still require voting in sequence on each option, which sequential voting would end if a majority voted in favor of one of the options without proceeding to a vote on one of the next options.

In order to utilize a ballot vote, membership would need to vote to use a ballot, correct? And utilizing a ballot could result in no majority, and thus, no decision. Correct?

Obviously this is not taking into account random motions for the membership at the meeting.

Thanks for your help!

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1 hour ago, Guest rkparliament said:

Hello, I have read through the faq and searched the previous posts, but still need some assistance in determining the best course for this issue in our association.

Our board was unable to decide on an issue surrounding a yearly event, so they decided to allow general membership to vote on the issue. In preparation for an upcoming general membership meeting, they have come up with four options for the event. The options are (1) keep event as is; (2) cancel event; (3) hold event in way that conflicts with option 1; (4) hold event in way that conflicts with option 1 and 3. Bylaws have no rules on voting that would trump the rules contained in RNOR in this situation.

The Board wants the membership to be able to vote between the options, but I'm not sure how this can be accomplished under RNOR. My understanding of how it would have to work is that the motion is presented and membership would need to vote for and against each option individually. Then, if say option 1 loses, and option 2 has a majority in favor, then option 3 and 4 would not be voted on unless 2/3 voted for option 3 or 4.

The closest procedure that I can find for what they would like to do is fill in the blank, which would still require voting in sequence on each option, which sequential voting would end if a majority voted in favor of one of the options without proceeding to a vote on one of the next options.

In order to utilize a ballot vote, membership would need to vote to use a ballot, correct? And utilizing a ballot could result in no majority, and thus, no decision. Correct?

Obviously this is not taking into account random motions for the membership at the meeting.

Thanks for your help!

You say that this is an "yearly event", and that one option is to keep it "as is" and another is to cancel it. 

In order for us to better understand the current situation, can you tell us what will happen if no motion at all is made and adopted now? That is to say, will the event be held "as is", or will no event be held?

What we need to know is what, exactly, did your group agree to in the past which has established this event as a yearly event.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

You say that this is an "yearly event", and that one option is to keep it "as is" and another is to cancel it. 

In order for us to better understand the current situation, can you tell us what will happen if no motion at all is made and adopted now? That is to say, will the event be held "as is", or will no event be held?

What we need to know is what, exactly, did your group agree to in the past which has established this event as a yearly event.

 

 

I assume that the event will continue "as is" if no motion is made and decided. In the past, the executive board has decided the structure of the event and the group as a whole has not voted on it, but because some members feel that a change in the event structure is needed, the executive board would like the group to vote instead of imposing a unilateral change by the Board.

Is that helpful?

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1 minute ago, Rkparliament said:

I assume that the event will continue "as is" if no motion is made and decided. In the past, the executive board has decided the structure of the event and the group as a whole has not voted on it, but because some members feel that a change in the event structure is needed, the executive board would like the group to vote instead of imposing a unilateral change by the Board.

Is that helpful?

Yes, I think so. If your assumption is correct, it means that a motion should be made to either rescind, or to amend in some designated fashion, that which the board has previously agreed to. No motion is needed, nor should any be made, to keep the event "as is".

Take a careful look at what is said on pages 305-310 of RONR, 11th ed., concerning motions to Rescind or to Amend Something Previously Adopted. These motions are amendable, and so whichever one is made can be fine-tuned to the assembly's liking.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Rkparliament said:

Is this the case even if the event was never actually adopted by the Board? Its a 15 year old event, that someone in the community started and is just sort of done every year as a matter of course. There has never been a previous vote on it by the Board or by the general membership of the group.

But you say that “In the past, the executive board has decided the structure of the event.” So while the board may not have made the original decision to hold the event, the board did, at some point, adopt a motion regarding the event.

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2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Yes, I think so. If your assumption is correct, it means that a motion should be made to either rescind, or to amend in some designated fashion, that which the board has previously agreed to. No motion is needed, nor should any be made, to keep the event "as is".

Take a careful look at what is said on pages 305-310 of RONR, 11th ed., concerning motions to Rescind or to Amend Something Previously Adopted. These motions are amendable, and so whichever one is made can be fine-tuned to the assembly's liking.

 

 

 

Is this the case even if the event was never actually adopted by the Board? Its a 15 year old event, that someone in the community started and is just sort of done every year as a matter of course. There has never been a previous vote on it by the Board or by the general membership of the group. Are you saying its necessary to rescind or amend because it should be considered custom?

Thank you for your help!

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6 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

But you say that “In the past, the executive board has decided the structure of the event.” So while the board may not have made the original decision to hold the event, the board did, at some point, adopt a motion regarding the event.

Even if there wasn't an official vote? It was simply something that a community member started was funded. So even without a specific vote in having it one way or another, we need to treat it as having been voted on previously and then apply the rules for rescinding and amending? 

Thanks for your help!

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Deciding things by an executive board is properly done via motion and vote.  If there was never an official vote, then as far as RONR is concerned, nothing was decided.  Note, however, that if the matter was discussed, and it was apparent to all that an action would be taken if nobody objected, this could be considered tantamount to Unanimous Consent (§4), which is as good as an official vote, and should be recorded in the minutes as a formal action.   As RONR points out, with characteristic understatement:

Quote

 

If much hinges on the outcome, however, it is usually better to take a formal vote.

 

 

So the first thing you need to decide is whether you actually decided.  If you did, then that decision would need to be Rescinded or Amended. (see §35) If you never decided, then simply doing nothing would ensure that nothing occurs.

The formality of RONR may seem a burden at times, but when it comes to figuring out what actually happened in the past and how it affects what might happen in the future, it usually turns out to have been worthwhile.  

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4 hours ago, Rkparliament said:

Even if there wasn't an official vote? It was simply something that a community member started was funded. So even without a specific vote in having it one way or another, we need to treat it as having been voted on previously and then apply the rules for rescinding and amending? 

So what exactly did you mean when you said “In the past, the executive board has decided the structure of the event.” How were these decisions made?

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Guest Who's Coming to Dinner
18 hours ago, Guest rkparliament said:

The Board wants the membership to be able to vote between the options, but I'm not sure how this can be accomplished under RNOR. My understanding of how it would have to work is that the motion is presented and membership would need to vote for and against each option individually. Then, if say option 1 loses, and option 2 has a majority in favor, then option 3 and 4 would not be voted on unless 2/3 voted for option 3 or 4.

This could be handled by presenting the motion with a blank and then proposing the options to fill it. Members may propose additional options from the floor. Then you vote on the options (preferably starting with the likely least popular option progressing toward the most popular) until one receives a majority vote. Once the blank is filled, you have a complete motion to debate and vote on.

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5 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

There's an example somewhere in the book (can't find it right now) where a selection of cities for the next convention is voted on by ballot, with the possible choices listed, and a line Other______ for write-ins.

I don't see why that method would not work here.

That's because you don't know what the relevant facts are, and neither do we.

 

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

This could be handled by presenting the motion with a blank and then proposing the options to fill it. Members may propose additional options from the floor. Then you vote on the options (preferably starting with the likely least popular option progressing toward the most popular) until one receives a majority vote. Once the blank is filled, you have a complete motion to debate and vote on.

I doubt it, but once again, we don't really know what we're talking about.

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Hello everyone and sorry for the delay in responding. 

On 11/9/2017 at 6:06 PM, Josh Martin said:

So what exactly did you mean when you said “In the past, the executive board has decided the structure of the event.” How were these decisions made?

This event was started by a member of the organization about 15 years ago and, as I understand it, the organization took over hosting it as the member moved on to other things. As far as I know, there has never been a formal vote of any sort by the Board or general membership about the structure of the event (structure being who within the organization as a whole is invited; venue capacity issues means that not everyone in organization can be invited to one event on one evening). Last year, some members of the organization complained to the Board that the event should be changed to include different groups within general membership or changed into a different kind of event. Nothing was done at that point, but a separate event was changed to include inviting different groups (this separate event did not have the same capacity constraints); separate event has always been a different kind of event every year. Normally, this separate event was decided by the Board without a formal vote, usually taking whatever form the social chair chose to hold without much input from others. 

This year, because the persistent complaints about inclusion for the event, the Board debated changes to the structure and kind of event to hold over at least three different meetings. No formal vote was held. At the close of the last meeting about the topic, it was decided (under unanimous consent I would say) to allow general membership to vote on (1) sticking with the two event system with the same kind of events for each; (2) not holding either of the events; (3) merging invite list of event with separate event invite list and then dividing total invite list in a different way to meet venue capacity; or (4) holding two different kinds of events where each member chooses only one event to attend.

Obviously membership could move for some other option, but this is what the Board will propose to membership.

We are all volunteers, so please keep this in mind.

I recommended the fill in the blank scenario from the rules in order to present the motion and then have the membership vote through the four options to fill the blank because it was my (very beginner understanding) that membership could not take a vote to see who gets the most yeas on each --- we have to take a nea vote on each as well. 

I had not considered until posing the question here that this would be a revision or amendment of a prior vote because there was ever really a formal vote except the end decision to let general membership decide. But I have notified the chairs about this issue and its being considered what to do in light of this concern.

On 11/10/2017 at 12:18 AM, Gary Novosielski said:

There's an example somewhere in the book (can't find it right now) where a selection of cities for the next convention is voted on by ballot, with the possible choices listed, and a line Other______ for write-ins.

I don't see why that method would not work here.

I saw this in the book as well, but we didn't vote on using ballots. In any event, if we went this route, there would still have to be a majority in favor of one of the options, correct? The plurality wouldn't win unless it was a majority of the votes.

On 11/10/2017 at 6:21 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

That's because you don't know what the relevant facts are, and neither do we.

 

I doubt it, but once again, we don't really know what we're talking about.

Sorry about that! I've tried to be as clear as possible while keeping as much anonymity about the issue as possible (not that it probably matters). As the actions of the Board thus far have not been the picture of clarity.

Thanks for your help everyone! 

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4 hours ago, Rkparliament said:

 

This year, because the persistent complaints about inclusion for the event, the Board debated changes to the structure and kind of event to hold over at least three different meetings. No formal vote was held. At the close of the last meeting about the topic, it was decided (under unanimous consent I would say) to allow general membership to vote on (1) sticking with the two event system with the same kind of events for each; (2) not holding either of the events; (3) merging invite list of event with separate event invite list and then dividing total invite list in a different way to meet venue capacity; or (4) holding two different kinds of events where each member chooses only one event to attend.

Obviously membership could move for some other option, but this is what the Board will propose to membership.

 

Putting aside, for the moment, all lingering questions concerning exactly what decisions have been made in the past and what entity had (and has) the authority to make them, it seems rather clear to me that the device of filling a blank (RONR, 11th ed. pp. 162-67) is not in the least bit suitable for use in this connection. At least some of these options appear to be far too complicated and susceptible to amendment themselves. I'm afraid that your board needs to man up and either make this decision itself, or decide upon and report its recommendation to the membership in the form of a resolution, as discussed on pages 514-15, which the assembly can then amend as it wishes (or refer to a committee for its recommendation  :))

4 hours ago, Rkparliament said:

I saw this in the book as well, but we didn't vote on using ballots. In any event, if we went this route, there would still have to be a majority in favor of one of the options, correct? The plurality wouldn't win unless it was a majority of the votes.

Assuming I'm wrong and it is feasible to recommend to the membership the adoption of a motion or resolution containing a blank, then yes, each proposal for filling the blank should be voted on separately until one is approved by a majority vote. "A plurality that is not a majority never chooses a proposition or elects anyone to office except by virtue of a special rule previously adopted" (p. 405, ll. 2-4). The membership's assembly can, however, agree, by majority vote, to vote by ballot on the question as to which one of the suggestions shall fill the blank. 

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16 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

 

 

 

Assuming I'm wrong and it is feasible to recommend to the membership the adoption of a motion or resolution containing a blank, then yes, each proposal for filling the blank should be voted on separately until one is approved by a majority vote. "A plurality that is not a majority never chooses a proposition or elects anyone to office except by virtue of a special rule previously adopted" (p. 405, ll. 2-4). The membership's assembly can, however, agree, by majority vote, to vote by ballot on the question as to which one of the suggestions shall fill the blank. 

If it is a ballot vote, you could consider using a preferential ballot to ensure a majority (p. 405, ll. 12-14) and (p. 425, l. 33 - p. 428, l. 26)."

I believe that the assembly could decide, similarly to deciding to vote by ballot, to vote by preferential ballot.

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In order to implement any voting system where less than a majority can decide the outcome would require at a minimum the passage of a Special Rule of Order, which has a higher threshold than a motion to vote by ballot or other means.  The voting and counting procedures must be established in advance and precisely described in detail. 

Such a method may not be used at all in the election of officers, unless provided for in the bylaws.

RONR notes that such methods should not be used where repeated balloting is possible.

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