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Electronic motion forms for convention meeting


Guest David Cullen, PRP

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Guest David Cullen, PRP

A client is considering requiring the use of electronic motion forms at their next convention.  Members would be required to enter their motion on a provided computer so the PO, secretary, parliamentarian, AV staff, and members are all able to see the language as offered, thereby eliminating eligibility problems.  In addition, a delegates assistance table will be available to help members formulate their motions.  It is currently agreed that recognition will continue to be determined by the Chair recognizing 'For' and 'Against' microphones. 

Does anyone have experience with a similar system  and any suggested rules regarding: whether all motions must be made by computer, If motions can be submitted from smart phones or laptops by email, how submitted motions are associated with the members who submit them (so the right electronic motion is forwarded to the chair et al)?

Any ideas or experience would be appreciated.

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The NAP ( National Association of parliamentarians) used a similar system at its last convention. one of the key technology gurus from that convention posts on here. Hopefully he or someone else who knows how it all worked will see your post and will respond. I will bring your post to the attention of two or three of the key people from that convention. Stay tuned. It may take them a while to respond. Hopefully, some of our other members have some experience with this which they can share.

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At the NAP Convention, delegates were allowed to submit motions in advance by text message and by email. In fact, that system was encouraged. When the motion was moved later, the motion was ready for projection onto a screen. I sent one motion by text message from my cell phone and thought it less efficient (actually slower) than writing my motion on the usual pre-numbered motion form. Typing on the small screen is difficult unless one has the nimble thumbs of a teenager. Also, there was insufficient room on tables in the delegate seating area to include laptops in addition to RONR and papers that were needed in the meeting -- not to mention the hand-held electronic voting devices, which sometimes failed to work properly.

I will leave it to others to explain how the system worked at the head table, motion table, etc. 

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Referring to Ann Rempel's comment about sending a motion from a cell phone, I think I heard a member express concern that there was no reply acknowledging that a motion the member submitted via cell phone had in fact been received and wasn't lost in cyberspace.  That can be very disconcerting!   I  would think that some means of acknowledging receipt of electronic motions would be desirable.

One of our regular contributors, Greg Goodwiller, PRP, handled many of the technical and IT aspects of the NAP convention.  I emailed him about your post.  He responded that he is out of town but will try to respond to your query tonight or tomorrow.

I have no idea how many motions were submitted via cell phones and laptops vs being handed (or dictated) to the volunteers at the "Motion Table" to type into a laptop and submit electronically.   I do not recall seeing any members other than the volunteers actually typing on those laptops, but it seems it could be done either way.  I'm hoping Greg can elaborate on how the system worked. One of those "Motion Table" volunteers is also a regular contributor in this forum.

I'm anxious to learn more about how the system worked, too.

 

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Sorry. I have been at a meeting out of state for two days.

NAP has in fact used a text/email system as an option at its last couple of conventions, the problem with which is that the motions arrive in all kinds of formats, often with missing information (such as what motion, exactly, is being amended!). At our last convention, we added a motion submission form on the NAP website, and gave everyone a link. That form required the inclusion of the necessary information, sent a reply email indicating that it had been received, and sent the information simultaneously to all those who needed to receive it. The only thing I think it was missing was an automatic sequential numbering system for reference (I'm working on that for the next convention). But the projectionist came up with a way to assign that manually, which got the job done.

There are numerous companies that provide this online service. I would be happy to discuss the service NAP uses and how it works via email, if desired: greg@goodwiller.org.

This may well be close to what your convention planners are already using, but just with the limitation that only a few computers are able to access the form. Our approach was to make the system as accessible as possible, but that is a decision for your client to make. It certainly isn't necessary, since it is quite easy to make a form available to as many folks as you like. 

regarding rules, limiting motions to electronic submission should only be done if you are sure that everyone has access to the technology. Perhaps it would be better to have a paper form that members could submit to a staff member or volunteer at a motion table, who could enter it for them - at least as an option.

I think the system worked well overall, and will recommend that we cease using the text/email option next time, and just use the form.

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