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Nominations and Election of Chair

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Hello,

I am a staff member for a municipal corporation supporting a citizen's advisory board.  A question has arisen as to the proper procedure for nominating and voting to select the chair of an advisory board for the year.

After nominations were made, each nominee gave a nominating speech.  Two speeches were very short (two or there sentences), and one was longer.  After each nominee spoke, another member, who has served as Chair in the past  made a philosophical comment on the purpose and function of the board as an advisory committee.  His comment was not specifically directed at the nominee who made the longer speech, but could be interpreted to take some exception to some of the ideas the nominee expressed. 

Next the vote was taken and the results announced.

After the meeting, the nominee who gave the longer nominating speech, who was not elected, complained to staff that there should not have been allowed any deliberative or other comments made after nominations were complete and that immediately after nominations, the vote should have occurred without any comment or deliberation of the members.

It seems to me that elections are sort of a special case of the standard progression of motion, deliberation and voting and that comments or deliberations by the members after nominations and before election voting by the members is appropriate.

Are comments, deliberations, or recommendations by the members allowed after nominations are complete before voting occurs for electing a Chair? 

Thank you.

 

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Nominations are debatable by all members present when it is in order to make them.  RONR (11th ed.), tinted pages 18-19, motion 49.

Technically there should be no debate by anyone after nominations were completed, including the speeches by the candidates, but nominations should have stayed open until everyone including the candidates had a chance to speak.

Edited by George Mervosh

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1 hour ago, George Mervosh said:

Nominations are debatable by all members present when it is in order to make them.  RONR (11th ed.), tinted pages 18-19, motion 49.

Technically there should be no debate by anyone after nominations were completed, including the speeches by the candidates, but nominations should have stayed open until everyone including the candidates had a chance to speak.

"Technically there should be no debate by anyone after nominations were completed,"

Whence that assertion?   Would it not be proper to discuss the relative merits of the candidates once ALL of them are identified?

[Clearly RONR/12 needs to clear up some questions about the proper procedures with respect to "debating nominations".]

[And "debating elections" -- not motions about elections as in Section 30, but debate about the content of the elections; i.e. the merits of the candidates]

 

 

Edited by jstackpo

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Just now, jstackpo said:

"Technically there should be no debate by anyone after nominations were completed,"

Whence that assertion?   Would it not be proper to discuss the relative merits of the candidates once ALL of them are identified?

 

 

John, when nominations are closed, what's there to discuss?  The proper time to debate any matter is while it is pending, not afterwards.  Once all are identified, but they remain open, I can't see why not. It's also possible to re-open nominations for the sole purpose of debating them.

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4 minutes ago, George Mervosh said:

John, when nominations are closed, what's there to discuss?  The proper time to debate any matter is while it is pending, not afterwards.  Once all are identified, but they remain open, I can't see why not. It's also possible to re-open nominations for the sole purpose of debating them.

Answering your question (as we seem to be overlapping replies, or something):  What's to discuss?  The relative merits of the candidates, of course.

What do you think was going on during the late summer and fall of 2016, after the Reps & Dems, and other groups, completed their nominations?

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Just now, jstackpo said:

Answering your question (as we seem to be overlapping replies, or something):  What's to discuss?  The relative merits of the candidates, of course.

What do you think was going on during the late summer and fall of 2016, after the Reps & Dems, and other groups, completed their nominations?

I think the point is, while they're not pending they're not debatable.  It might sound a bit hyper-technical if you're moving right into debate after closing them, but I do not think that's the proper way to do it.

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I think there might be an issue here with the comments made by the member who previously served as chair. You say that "after each nominee spoke, another member who has served as chair in the past, made a philosophical comment on the purpose and function of the board as an advisory committee." I guess one could question whether such a statement was actually germane to the nominations, i.e., whether it was directly solely towards the relative merits of the nominees. If it wasn't, it probably should have been ruled out of order.

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6 minutes ago, George Mervosh said:

I think the point is, while they're not pending they're not debatable.  It might sound a bit hyper-technical if you're moving right into debate after closing them, but I do not think that's the proper way to do it.

I guess I don't understand:  what is your (emphasized by me) "they" referring back to?

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But, aren't the nominees the choice(s) that are pending in the election process?       IMO, tinted #49 should address debating them, the nominees (or "candidates"), as they are being nominated, AND when the full suite of nominees are known, and nominations closed.

During the nomination process, the "debate" would, or could, be initiated by a nominating speech, but after the nominations are closed the debate would/could be known as "campaigning".

Surely RONR doesn't forbid campaigning - as I define it here.

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When then, is the proper time for members to deliberate over, discuss or promote the nominees?  In most actions, there seems to be the progression of Move, Deliberate, Vote.  When it comes to elections Is there no opportunity for deliberation or advocating for/against a nominee prior to voting?

The comment from the past chair was not directed specifically by name at any one nominee, but it did express some general concern with the ideas/proposed direction that one of the nominees expressed in their nominating speech.

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If the rule is that nominees can be discussed and debated only while nominations are open and pending, and not after all nominations have been made and nominations closed, it is a rule that just doesn't make much sense.  It is impossible to compare the relative strengths and attributes of the nominees, such as their experience, until after ALL nominations have been made.... and you don't know that all nominations have been made until nominations are closed.  THEN you can compare their experience, etc.

I agree that the 12th edition should address this issue.  If the authorship team is going to stick to what appears to be the position that nominees can be discussed and debated only before nominations are closed, then it should say so clearly.... much more clearly than RONR does now.  But, it makes much more sense to me to allow debate on the nominations to take place after all nominations have been made. 

Edited to add:  I agree with Dr. Stackpole's position and hope that the 12th edition will provide that nominees/candidates can be debated after nominations are closed and prior to voting.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph

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1 hour ago, George Mervosh said:

John, when nominations are closed, what's there to discuss?  The proper time to debate any matter is while it is pending, not afterwards.  Once all are identified, but they remain open, I can't see why not. It's also possible to re-open nominations for the sole purpose of debating them.

1

The problem is that they are not all identified until nominations are closed.  And the average person will think it is rather stupid to have to re-open nominations just for the purpose of debating the nominations that have just been made.  And they probably don't even realize that nominations can be re-opened for that purpose.   The logical time to debate them is immediately after nominations are closed.

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7 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

The problem is that they are not all identified until nominations are closed.  And the average person will think it is rather stupid to have to re-open nominations just for the purpose of debating the nominations that have just been made.  And they probably don't even realize that nominations can be re-opened for that purpose.   The logical time to debate them is immediately after nominations are closed.

When nominations are closed, what is pending that is debatable?

Edited by George Mervosh
rephrased the question

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7 minutes ago, George Mervosh said:

When nominations are closed, what is pending that is debatable?

All of the nominations, at least in the eyes of just about everyone at your typical meeting.

How can you compare the relative attributes of Candidate A with the other candidates until after they have been nominated?

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I agree that RONR appears to say that nominations are debatable only while they are open.  I also think it would make sense to allow them after nominations are closed, but before the voting begins.  However, just because something might work does not mean RONR permits it.  There are a couple of ways to deal with it, I think.  

The chair could say, "If there are no further nominations, is there any discussion before nominations are closed?"

A member could say, "I move to suspend the rules and allow discussion after nominations are closed."

There are probably others.

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2 hours ago, jstackpo said:

But, aren't the nominees the choice(s) that are pending in the election process?       IMO, tinted #49 should address debating them, the nominees (or "candidates"), as they are being nominated, AND when the full suite of nominees are known, and nominations closed.

During the nomination process, the "debate" would, or could, be initiated by a nominating speech, but after the nominations are closed the debate would/could be known as "campaigning".

Surely RONR doesn't forbid campaigning - as I define it here.

So far as RONR is concerned, debate is only in order when nominations are in order. See previous discussions on this topic here and here.

As I understand it, the sort of “debate” RONR envisions in an election is, at most, brief nominating and seconding speeches in favor of the nominees. Organizations which expect more extensive debate generally adopt their own rules on the subject. Alternately, the rules could be suspended to permit debate while nominations are closed.

 

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Regarding the debate during nominations ... perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way, but I see the issue differently ... 

I think that the debate during nominations is not supposed to be about the merits of candidates at all. I think it is supposed to be about any specific qualifications that candidates must meet in order to be nominated. In short, debate is only appropriate during nominations on the eligibility of a particular person to be nominated to be a candidate.

Essentially, if Bylaws or Rules specify that a person elected to a particular office must meet specific requirements (e.g. having been a member for a certain length of time), then there could be debate during the nominations about whether or not a person that someone has nominated is actually qualified (per the requirements in the bylaws or rules) to hold the office.

I'd think that debate on the relative merits of the candidates could be handled by a separate motion that provides a structure for a debate or discussion. I think that ideally, an organization would create a Bylaw or Special Rule of Order that would specifically address that issue.

But I think that during nominations, the appropriate issue for debate is whether or not a person can "legally" be nominated, not whether or not a person is a good or bad choice.

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Does the election typically occur directly after nominations are closed?

Also, wouldn't the election itself be a motion with a blank (of the form "that [blank] be chosen as Dogcatcher"), and the ballot is for filling of the blank?

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Yeah, ... but how do you debate facts?  If there are objective qualifications spelled out for election (membership for N years, dues all paid up, residency, citizenship, &c.) there isn't really any room for "debate". The qualifications are matters of public record, within the organization anyway.

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If there was a criteria that was not sufficiently objective, there could be debate.

For a potential example ... let's say that an organization has a judicial committee to resolve disputes in the organization. One of the criteria to be on the judicial committee could be that a member must have previously been a committee chair, and must have "demonstrated impartiality in his conduct while chairing the committee."

Whether or not the person has demonstrated impartiality during their committee chairmanship could be debated.

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To be clear, I am not in favor of having subjective criteria for a position. But I don't rule out the possibility that it exists, e.g. in a case similar to the example I gave above.

I think that the rules for an organization should spell out procedures for nominations and elections, including procedures regarding nominations, qualifications, nomination speeches, members speaking for or against candidates, time limits, a debate format, election method, etc.

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9 hours ago, Chip said:

Regarding the debate during nominations ... perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way, but I see the issue differently ... 

I think that the debate during nominations is not supposed to be about the merits of candidates at all. I think it is supposed to be about any specific qualifications that candidates must meet in order to be nominated. In short, debate is only appropriate during nominations on the eligibility of a particular person to be nominated to be a candidate.

Essentially, if Bylaws or Rules specify that a person elected to a particular office must meet specific requirements (e.g. having been a member for a certain length of time), then there could be debate during the nominations about whether or not a person that someone has nominated is actually qualified (per the requirements in the bylaws or rules) to hold the office.

I'd think that debate on the relative merits of the candidates could be handled by a separate motion that provides a structure for a debate or discussion. I think that ideally, an organization would create a Bylaw or Special Rule of Order that would specifically address that issue.

But I think that during nominations, the appropriate issue for debate is whether or not a person can "legally" be nominated, not whether or not a person is a good or bad choice.

There is nothing at all in RONR which supports this notion that debate during nominations is not supposed to be about the merits of candidates.

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On 1/26/2018 at 11:14 PM, Chip said:

Regarding the debate during nominations ... perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way, but I see the issue differently ... 

I think that the debate during nominations is not supposed to be about the merits of candidates at all. I think it is supposed to be about any specific qualifications that candidates must meet in order to be nominated. In short, debate is only appropriate during nominations on the eligibility of a particular person to be nominated to be a candidate.

Essentially, if Bylaws or Rules specify that a person elected to a particular office must meet specific requirements (e.g. having been a member for a certain length of time), then there could be debate during the nominations about whether or not a person that someone has nominated is actually qualified (per the requirements in the bylaws or rules) to hold the office.

I'd think that debate on the relative merits of the candidates could be handled by a separate motion that provides a structure for a debate or discussion. I think that ideally, an organization would create a Bylaw or Special Rule of Order that would specifically address that issue.

But I think that during nominations, the appropriate issue for debate is whether or not a person can "legally" be nominated, not whether or not a person is a good or bad choice.

i don't find a lot of support for that in RONR.  If, as a factual matter, someone is nominated who is ineligible to serve, and that fact is not immediately caught by the chair, the appropriate response is to raise a Point of Order, possibly followed by an Appeal, which would then be open to debate on the facts.

Debate, in general, is always directed toward the merits of the proposed action--in this case, that a certain person should be elected because he or she is the best choice.

Since the default situation in RONR is that there simply are no qualifications for office, apart from being duly elected, it is not likely that RONR intended to restrict debate to eligibility.  The relative merits of the candidates is certainly germane to the question.

Edited by Gary Novosielski

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23 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

If, as a factual matter, someone is nominated who is ineligible to serve, and that fact is not immediately caught by the chair, the appropriate response is to raise a Point of Order, possibly followed by an Appeal, which would then be open to debate on the facts.

Debate, in general, is always directed toward the merits of the proposed action--in this case, that a certain person should be elected because he or she is the best choice.

Since the default situation in RONR is that there simply are no qualifications for office, apart from being duly elected, it is not likely that RONR intended to restrict debate to eligibility.  The relative merits of the candidates is certainly germane to the question.

I suppose that makes sense. I wish RONR was more explicitly clear on this topic, or set up some specific procedure that assemblies could default to (or ignore by writing their own rules on the topic).

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