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Daniel H. Honemann

Making a Ballot Vote Unanimous

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On page 413 of RONR (11th ed.) we are told that a motion to make unanimous a ballot vote that was not unanimous is out of order "unless that motion is also voted on by ballot".

You are presiding over an assembly which has just adopted a motion by a ballot vote of 150 in favor and 5 opposed. A motion is made (and seconded) that the vote in favor be made unanimous. How do you respond?

 

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Good question.  There are at least 155 members there so taking a ballot vote could take a while.  I would think that even taking a vote whether to hold the unanimous vote by ballot would require a ballot vote since if anyone voted against it that would suggest they were against the motion.  So I suppose I would instruct the Secretary to break out the packs of Post-it-Notes. :D

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6 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

On page 413 of RONR (11th ed.) we are told that a motion to make unanimous a ballot vote that was not unanimous is out of order "unless that motion is also voted on by ballot".

You are presiding over an assembly which has just adopted a motion by a ballot vote of 150 in favor and 5 opposed. A motion is made (and seconded) that the vote in favor be made unanimous. How do you respond?

 

You permit the vote to be taken by ballot, based on p. 413.  There are a few organizations that do have something like this process (churches, IIRC). 

However, if there is one or more no votes, you (or I, if President Gerber did relinquish the chair) declare that the vote on the motion is not unanimous. 

You might also look at the "liberum veto" is 17th Century Kingdom of Poland.   I have heard that this was sometimes referred to "exploding the Sejm [the Polish Parliament]."

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16 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

On page 413 of RONR (11th ed.) we are told that a motion to make unanimous a ballot vote that was not unanimous is out of order "unless that motion is also voted on by ballot".

You are presiding over an assembly which has just adopted a motion by a ballot vote of 150 in favor and 5 opposed. A motion is made (and seconded) that the vote in favor be made unanimous. How do you respond?

 

 

10 hours ago, J. J. said:

You permit the vote to be taken by ballot, based on p. 413.  

So then, I gather you would say that a presiding officer should never rule such a motion out of order solely for the reason that it would force disclosure of a member's vote, since the vote on such a motion (if it is not out of order for any other reason) must always be taken by a ballot vote.  

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14 hours ago, J. J. said:

However, if there is one or more no votes, you (or I, if President Gerber did relinquish the chair) declare that the vote on the motion is not unanimous. 

If this is correct, that, there can't be any no votes, one wonders, at what point is the motion a waste of time?  Yeah, maybe the 5 will come around and vote yes, but I sure would not if I was one of the no votes. But of course my level of stubbornness might depend on what the exact original motion was.

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3 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

 

So then, I gather you would say that a presiding officer should never rule such a motion out of order solely for the reason that it would force disclosure of a member's vote, since the vote on such a motion (if it is not out of order for any other reason) must always be taken by a ballot vote.  

According to p. 413, the motion is not out of order, in and of itself.  I think he should rule a motion to take the vote, by some other method that does not preserve secrecy in voting, out of order.

The motion "to make the [secret ballot] vote unanimous," would not be out of order on the ground that it "would force the disclosure of the members's vote or views on the matter," provided that the vote was taken by (secret) ballot. 

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6 minutes ago, George Mervosh said:

If this is correct, that, there can't be any no votes, one wonders, at what point is the motion a waste of time?  Yeah, maybe the 5 will come around and vote yes, but I sure would not if I was one of the no votes. But of course my level of stubbornness might depend on what the exact original motion was.

Well, under certain circumstances the chair may feel compelled to rule that the motion to make the vote unanimous is not in order because it is dilatory, but that's not at all the same thing as ruling that it is not in order because it would force disclosure of a member's vote (which is what the rule on page 413 is all about).

 

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4 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Well, under certain circumstances the chair may feel compelled to rule that the motion to make the vote unanimous is not in order because it is dilatory, but that's not at all the same thing as ruling that it is not in order because it would force disclosure of a member's vote (which is what the rule on page 413 is all about).

 

I know, just rambling a bit.  but I think I agree with what VP J.J. has said so far, to be honest.

Edited by George Mervosh

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6 hours ago, George Mervosh said:

If this is correct, that, there can't be any no votes, one wonders, at what point is the motion a waste of time?  Yeah, maybe the 5 will come around and vote yes, but I sure would not if I was one of the no votes. But of course my level of stubbornness might depend on what the exact original motion was.

I would have a difficult time ruling a motion dilatory that the book specifically permits to be made in that circumstance,  :)

Somebody may make an argument that the wording p. 413, ll. 4-9, should be changed.    That, however, is a totally different argument.   :)

Edited by J. J.

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Dan - With respect to making this motion, there doesn't seem to be any real difference between it and moving to reconsider a vote that was taken by ballot.  A member is voluntarily waiving the secrecy of his vote in order to make it.  I suppose technically even one of the 5 no voters could have had a change of heart and made this motion, unlike the maker of the motion to reconsider, in which case no one really knows how the maker of this motion voted.  As long as the vote to make the previous decision unanimous is taken by ballot as required, how is anyone being forced to disclose their vote?   

 

Edited by George Mervosh

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33 minutes ago, George Mervosh said:

Dan - With respect to making this motion, there doesn't seem to be any real difference between it and moving to reconsider a vote that was taken by ballot.  A member is voluntarily waiving the secrecy of his vote in order to make it.  I suppose technically even one of the 5 no voters could have had a change of heart and made this motion, unlike the maker of the motion to reconsider, in which case no one really knows how the maker of this motion voted.  As long as the vote to make the previous decision unanimous is taken by ballot as required, how is anyone being forced to disclose their vote?   

 

No one is being forced to disclose his vote if the motion to make the vote unanimous is voted on by ballot. But if, as J.J. says, the rule is that such a motion must be voted on by ballot, then such a motion can't ever force disclosure of a member's vote, and can't ever be out of order for that reason. 

J.J. sees some trouble with the wording on page 413, and so do I.  :)

 

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Forgive me if I just muse here a little.

My limited experience with this kind of motion is a little different. This motion is used in organizations in which the sentiment of solidarity is highly valued (e.g. labor unions or political parties). The intended purpose of the motion is not to change the outcome of the vote previously taken; rather,  the motion's purpose is to rouse the assembly to express solidarity for the action just completed. As such, the motion has some value, I suppose. In organizations where it is used in this way, I would not rule the motion out of order. In other organizations, however, I think the motion is dilatory.

Edited by reelsman
to correct a problem with spellchecker

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2 hours ago, reelsman said:

Forgive me if I just muse here a little.

My limited experience with this kind of motion is a little different. This motion is used in organizations in which the sentiment of solidarity is highly valued (e.g. labor unions or political parties). The intended purpose of the motion is not to change the outcome of the vote previously taken; rather,  the motion's purpose is to rouse the assembly to express solidarity for the action just completed. As such, the motion has some value, I suppose. In organizations where it is used in this way, I would not rule the motion out of order. In other organizations, however, I think the motion is dilatory.

In these contexts to which you refer (labor unions, political parties, etc.), my guess is that they did not require a ballot vote on the motion to make the vote unanimous. Most often it is done by a unanimous consent request. In other words, members had little choice but to go along to get along.

In any event, this has been my experience.  :)

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12 hours ago, reelsman said:

Forgive me if I just muse here a little.

My limited experience with this kind of motion is a little different. This motion is used in organizations in which the sentiment of solidarity is highly valued (e.g. labor unions or political parties). The intended purpose of the motion is not to change the outcome of the vote previously taken; rather,  the motion's purpose is to rouse the assembly to express solidarity for the action just completed. As such, the motion has some value, I suppose. In organizations where it is used in this way, I would not rule the motion out of order. In other organizations, however, I think the motion is dilatory.

I follow this dictum:  "No motion is dilatory, that the assembly chooses to entertain (no matter how dilatory it really is)." :)  That is a semi-humorous way of saying that, if the majority feels that such a motion is not dilatory, then it is not dilatory, basically by definition. 

You have hit on the situation where it certainly may not be dilatory.  There can be a legitimate, abet political, reason for the motion.  I am aware of this being done in church meetings, where the idea of solidarity has value, as you suggest. 

 

 

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On 12/27/2017 at 12:14 PM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

J.J. sees some trouble with the wording on page 413, and so do I.  :)

 

". . . since any member who openly votes against declaring the first vote unanimous will thereby reveal that he did not vote for the prevailing choice." This statement is not true, and it is provided as the foundation of the rule. 

I doubt many on this thread, if they had voted on a prevailing side, would vote to make unanimous the ballot vote. 

To me, in the most lenient perspective, the practice of making unanimous feels tantamount to retaking the vote by the same method. From a harsher perspective, it feels tantamount to falsifying what happened, which seems wrong even when there is no opposition. The same harsh perspective would see the minutes as falsified, unless the minutes recorded the tellers' report accurately on the motion and provided a separate entry for another motion to make unanimous a ballot vote. Certainly, only a majority is required to falsify facts. If a unanimous vote is required, then it must NOT be falsification at all, but the actual retaking of a vote by the same method--for the purpose of attaining the same result. Certainly that's out of order. 

Okay, so, back to the original question. If we assume (heaven forbid) that a ballot vote on the motion to make unanimous the previous ballot vote is in order and it is the duty of the chair to place it before the assembly and that it requires a unanimous vote, the chair could use an interesting adapted form of unanimous consent as a time-saving device: if any member voluntarily indicates his intention to vote no, the ballot vote isn't taken, because it would be a waste of time. 

 

IN AN ALTERNATE REALITY I'D LIKE TO THINK THIS MIGHT HAPPEN:

"The chair gives up his right to secrecy and declares his intention to vote against the question of making unanimous the ballot, therefore the taking of the vote is dilatory and for that reason not in order. This ruling is subject to appeal. The chair relinquishes the chair to vice-president J.J."  

 

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10 minutes ago, Ann Rempel said:

I really like Tim's Alternate Reality! Sure makes sense to me. :)

Well, what makes more sense to me is to understand that motions to make unanimous a ballot vote that was not unanimous are not inherently improper.

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59 minutes ago, Tim Wynn said:

 

IN AN ALTERNATE REALITY I'D LIKE TO THINK THIS MIGHT HAPPEN:

"The chair gives up his right to secrecy and declares his intention to vote against the question of making unanimous the ballot, therefore the taking of the vote is dilatory and for that reason not in order. This ruling is subject to appeal. The chair relinquishes the chair to vice-president J.J."  

 

 

In such a case, the chair could change his mind.  :)

The rule exists to protect a member who is not willing to waive his secrecy in voting, which would not be that case.  There would be the possibility of reconsideration. Technically, the chair has voted on the prevailing side.  He may leave the meeting, leaving no one else to be able to reconsider.

 

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14 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Well, what makes more sense to me is to understand that motions to make unanimous a ballot vote that was not unanimous are not inherently improper.

Agreed! 

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33 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Well, what makes more sense to me is to understand that motions to make unanimous a ballot vote that was not unanimous are not inherently improper.

That being said, I think p. 413 should be seen as prescribing what is improper about taking such a vote in some form other than by secret ballot. I don't think p. 413 should be seen as an endorsement or as an indication of when or under what circumstances such a motion would be in order.   

Edited by Tim Wynn

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1 hour ago, Tim Wynn said:

That being said, I think p. 413 should be seen as prescribing what is improper about taking such a vote in some form other than by secret ballot. I don't think p. 413 should be seen as an endorsement or as an indication of when or under what circumstances such a motion would be in order.   

It does, however, indicate that there are situations where it is in order.

There have been some circumstances mentioned on this threat where the would be in order (though not necessarily desirable).

 

Welcome back!!!

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1 hour ago, Tim Wynn said:

That being said, I think p. 413 should be seen as prescribing what is improper about taking such a vote in some form other than by secret ballot. I don't think p. 413 should be seen as an endorsement or as an indication of when or under what circumstances such a motion would be in order.   

Yes, I think this is exactly right.

The problem is that the current wording of this sentence is a bit awkward.  🙂

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3 hours ago, Tim Wynn said:

Okay, so, back to the original question. If we assume (heaven forbid) that a ballot vote on the motion to make unanimous the previous ballot vote is in order and it is the duty of the chair to place it before the assembly and that it requires a unanimous vote, the chair could use an interesting adapted form of unanimous consent as a time-saving device: if any member voluntarily indicates his intention to vote no, the ballot vote isn't taken, because it would be a waste of time. 

 

IN AN ALTERNATE REALITY I'D LIKE TO THINK THIS MIGHT HAPPEN:

"The chair gives up his right to secrecy and declares his intention to vote against the question of making unanimous the ballot, therefore the taking of the vote is dilatory and for that reason not in order. This ruling is subject to appeal. The chair relinquishes the chair to vice-president J.J."  

 

That's my bolding in Tim's reply. Can someone point out the reference that states a motion to make unanimous a previous ballot vote that was not unanimous must itself be adopted by a unanimous vote?

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4 minutes ago, Bruce Lages said:

That's my bolding in Tim's reply. Can someone point out the reference that states a motion to make unanimous a previous ballot vote that was not unanimous must itself be adopted by a unanimous vote?

It's just common sense, isn't it?

In any event, see General Robert's response in Q&A 184 on pages 476-77 in PL.

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