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Guest B.M.Majew

Second Vs. Voting

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Guest B.M.Majew

In regards to a three member board. One member discloses a conflict of interest, but lets the public know that per the State Ethics Commission he can vote to break a tie, because of the size of the board. If the chairman makes the motion, can the person with the conflict of interest second that motion? I understand that he can "vote" to break a tie, but the second has to come before the vote.

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If this is a public body subject to state open meetings laws and ethics laws, any such laws trump any contrary provisions in RONR . 

Per the rules in RONR, a member with a conflict of the sort defined in RONR should not vote but cannot be compelled to refrain from voting. However, RONR has no such rule pertaining to making and seconding motions. 

As to voting to break a tie, there should be no need to do so since a motion fails on a tie vote. I would, however, make sure that the ethics rules do in fact permit a member with a conflict to vote to break a tie. I am relatively familiar with how public bodies function and believe that such a provision would be most unusual. I have never heard of it. It defeats the whole purpose of abstaining when there is a conflict.

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6 hours ago, Guest B.M.Majew said:

In regards to a three member board. One member discloses a conflict of interest, but lets the public know that per the State Ethics Commission he can vote to break a tie, because of the size of the board. If the chairman makes the motion, can the person with the conflict of interest second that motion? I understand that he can "vote" to break a tie, but the second has to come before the vote.

I agree that it would be highly unusual to be authorized to vote only in the case of "breaking a tie".  I've never come across it.

What I have seen, relating to the size of a board, is that if enough members are conflicted that their recusal would leave less than a quorum of voting members, all conflicted members are permitted to participate fully in debate as well as voting.  But that's not in RONR, it's something ethics committees have been known to allow.

As a practical matter, for a three-person board, allowing one conflicted person to vote in the case of a tie is the same as simply allowing him to vote, since by deciding whether or not to vote he is in effect casting the deciding vote, and if there was not a tie, his vote would not affect the outcome anyway.

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3 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

What I have seen, relating to the size of a board, is that if enough members are conflicted that their recusal would leave less than a quorum of voting members, all conflicted members are permitted to participate fully in debate as well as voting.  

Interesting.

My experience has been that statutes usually cope with the problem they create by prohibiting conflicted members from voting by allowing the remaining members to decide the question, even although they are less than a quorum. 

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9 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Interesting.

My experience has been that statutes usually cope with the problem they create by prohibiting conflicted members from voting by allowing the remaining members to decide the question, even although they are less than a quorum. 

Perhaps it's what can happen when the statutes fail to cope with the problem they create, and leave the solution to a committee to decide. :)

When referring to decisions of the state legislature, I often found myself appending the phrase, "...in their finite wisdom."

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