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New members not allowed to vote


Guest Guest Mel
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At the annual meeting, which was held April 26, 2018, (as called by the vice-prez), the nominating committee gave their recommendations. The president then asked for nominations from the floor, at such time a new member was nominated for an office.  The treasurer spoke up and informed the society due to a motion made and passed years ago, all new members joining this year are not allowed to vote in the elections or hold office.  The elections proceeded with only 6 of the 14 members present allowed to cast a vote.

The constitution states "The officers shall be elected at the annual meeting and shall hold office until their successors have been elected.  Any regularly elected officer of our society can be deposed from office for cause that is, misconduct or neglect of duty in office."

Am I interpreting this correctly as a suspension of members' rights?  If so, are formal disciplinary proceedings our only recourse?

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I will ask the treasurer for it.  At the time the motion was made, am I correct in stating the By-laws should of been updated at that time so all new members would be aware of the rules.  The first meeting I attended was the previous meeting held in November.  There were people wanting to join then, but the treasurer told them to pay at the next meeting.

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Based on what you have told us about your bylaws, the new members were improperly denied the right to vote and the new member who someone wanted to nominate was improperly denied the right to be nominated and hold office. Even if a motion such as the treasurer described had been adopted, it would be in conflict with your bylaws and would be null and void. The right to vote is a fundamental right of membership and cannot be restricted without a provision in the bylaws and sometimes due to disciplinary proceedings. Also, qualifications for holding office, if any, must be in the bylaws.

Edited to add: if this motion which was supposedly adopted years ago was actually a bylaw Amendment, and if it was validly adopted, then that might change things. However, as Dr. Stackpole suggested, someone needs to produce a copy of that supposed motion / bylaw amendment.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph
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1 hour ago, jstackpo said:

I would sure like to see that "motion made and passed years ago" and the minutes containing and documenting that motion.   Ask the treasurer for it, since he brought it up.

What difference does it make?  Unless it was a bylaws amendment, I don't see how it matters; either it doesn't exist or, if it does, it is void as violating the bylaws.

1 hour ago, Guest Guest Mel said:

At the time the motion was made, am I correct in stating the By-laws should of been updated at that time so all new members would be aware of the rules. 

Well, that depends.  If it was a motion to amend the bylaws, then yes (and, regardless of the document not being updated, if the motion carried and nothing has changed since, it is the rule).  If it was simply an original main motion, then it was out of order, and is void, and did not change the bylaws.

2 hours ago, Guest Guest Mel said:

Am I interpreting this correctly as a suspension of members' rights?  If so, are formal disciplinary proceedings our only recourse?

I don't think so.  Not only that, I don't think disciplinary proceedings will get you what you want.  From the description, it doesn't sound like anyone was purposefully disenfranching people, but rather mistakes were made.  That said, the question is whether or not the outcome was impacted.  If so, the election should be voided.  If not, you move on.  Since 8 people out of 14 were denied the right to vote, the outcome was impacted.

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9 hours ago, Guest Guest Mel said:

The treasurer spoke up and informed the society due to a motion made and passed years ago, all new members joining this year are not allowed to vote in the elections or hold office.  The elections proceeded with only 6 of the 14 members present allowed to cast a vote.

Such a rule is null and void unless it was an amendment to the Constitution.

9 hours ago, Guest Guest Mel said:

Am I interpreting this correctly as a suspension of members' rights?

Yes.

9 hours ago, Guest Guest Mel said:

If so, are formal disciplinary proceedings our only recourse?

No. A Point of Order may be raised that the election is null and void (since the number of members denied the right to vote was sufficient to have affected the result), and an Appeal may be raised from the chair’s ruling, so that the decision is placed in the hands of the assembly.

8 hours ago, Guest Guest Mel said:

At the time the motion was made, am I correct in stating the By-laws should of been updated at that time so all new members would be aware of the rules.

That is correct if the motion was, in fact, a motion to amend the bylaws. I was under the impression that the motion in question was not a motion to amend the bylaws. If the bylaws were actually amended, but the printed copies of the bylaws were not updated, that is a different matter.

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Although I suppose the odds are that the responses posted above are correct, I would be reluctant to bet on them without knowing what this organization's constitution or bylaws say about qualifications for membership, and what, if anything, they say about qualifications for holding office.

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The constitution states "Membership shall be of three classes. a. Individual active members - any person interested in the purposes of the society shall be eligible upon payment of dues." The other 2 classes deal with Honorary and Life members.  Also "Dues shall be payable after the audit is completed and after the election of officers has been held." There are no provisions regarding the qualifications of officers.

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1 hour ago, Guest Guest Mel said:

The constitution states "Membership shall be of three classes. a. Individual active members - any person interested in the purposes of the society shall be eligible upon payment of dues." The other 2 classes deal with Honorary and Life members.  Also "Dues shall be payable after the audit is completed and after the election of officers has been held." There are no provisions regarding the qualifications of officers.

Assuming that there is no provision restricting the right of new members to vote, I think the answers you have been given still apply.  To me, the only question is whether this so called "motion" which was adopted years ago was actually an amendment to the bylaws and, if so, exactly what is the exact language of the amendment.  If it conflicts with the bylaws, it is null and void unless it was actually an amendment to the bylaws.

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So the constitution provides that persons shall be eligible for individual active membership upon payment of dues, and that dues shall be payable after the election of officers has been held.

I can see where some question may have arisen as to the right of persons to become active members, and thus acquire the right to vote, by paying dues prior to the election of officers.

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11 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

So the constitution provides that persons shall be eligible for individual active membership upon payment of dues, and that dues shall be payable after the election of officers has been held.

I can see where some question may have arisen as to the right of persons to become active members, and thus acquire the right to vote, by paying dues prior to the election of officers.

Yes, it does appear that there can be a question as to whether these "new members" are actually members as of the time of the elections. We don't know when they "joined", whether and when they were approved, and whether and when they paid their dues. We also don't know whether whatever dues they might have paid were for the year ending at the annual meeting or the year beginning at the annual meeting. Perhaps this mysterious motion adopted years ago clarifies the status of new members without violating the bylaws, but without knowing what the motion says, we have no way of knowing that. Interesting. And good catch.

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This is the entire section from the Constitution with the amount of payment left out:

"Sec. 3.  The dues of individual members shall be $0.00 per year, or $0.00 per family per year.  Membership and treasury books will be closed at the end of year for audit.  Dues shall be payable after the audit is completed and after the election of officers has been held."

Please correct me if I am wrong, but if a person had not previously join, they could not be classified as a member.  This is how I am interpreting this section:  If a person joined Dec 31, 2017 or prior, they would have been members and eligible to vote.  If they joined after Dec 31, 2017, they would not of been members yet, therefore, the "Dues shall be payable after the audit is completed and after the election of officers has been held." would not apply to them because there were no dues owed from them at such time, therefore, making them eligible to vote provided the motion made years ago was not an amendment to the Constitution and Bylaws.  There is no provision in the Constitution stating a time frame when new individuals will be accepted as members.  This may be a case of how any individual interprets the above.

I want thank everyone for your replies and help.

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This getting to be a review of your entire bylaws for which you really need to contact the AIP or NAP for a referral to a professional parliamentarian in your area.  [end of commercial]

1)  Do your bylaws make an explicit statement, somewhere, about exactly how a new person becomes a member?

2)  Also what would cause someone to lose his/her membership, other than resigning, say?

3)  And how such a lapsed (past)member could become a member again, if different from #1.

4)  When are renewal dues due, for "continuing" members?

and finally...

5)  Is there a distinction between applying for membership, and actually being admitted to membership?

Sort those questions out and you may be able to answer your own questions (or bolster your own arguments).   Or maybe not... 

 

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1 hour ago, Guest Guest Mel said:

This is the entire section from the Constitution with the amount of payment left out:

"Sec. 3.  The dues of individual members shall be $0.00 per year, or $0.00 per family per year.  Membership and treasury books will be closed at the end of year for audit.  Dues shall be payable after the audit is completed and after the election of officers has been held."

Please correct me if I am wrong, but if a person had not previously join, they could not be classified as a member.  This is how I am interpreting this section:  If a person joined Dec 31, 2017 or prior, they would have been members and eligible to vote.  If they joined after Dec 31, 2017, they would not of been members yet, therefore, the "Dues shall be payable after the audit is completed and after the election of officers has been held." would not apply to them because there were no dues owed from them at such time, therefore, making them eligible to vote provided the motion made years ago was not an amendment to the Constitution and Bylaws.  There is no provision in the Constitution stating a time frame when new individuals will be accepted as members.  This may be a case of how any individual interprets the above.

I want thank everyone for your replies and help.

Well, you quoted some language about  dues, but that has nothing directly to do with membership.  In fact RONR is clear that failure to pay dues does not deprive a member of any rights, except as the bylaws may provide.  So I'm not sure the date that dues are payable has anything to do with whether somebody can vote.

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5 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Well, you quoted some language about  dues, but that has nothing directly to do with membership.  In fact RONR is clear that failure to pay dues does not deprive a member of any rights, except as the bylaws may provide.  So I'm not sure the date that dues are payable has anything to do with whether somebody can vote.

 

On 5/2/2018 at 1:10 PM, Guest Guest Mel said:

he constitution states "Membership shall be of three classes. a. Individual active members - any person interested in the purposes of the society shall be eligible upon payment of dues."

I am having trouble reconciling these two statements.  Failure to pay dues does not deprive a person who already has a right from voting, but in this case, it is paying dues which, apparently, makes one "eligible" to be an "individual active member."  At this point, I disavow my prior answer and will say that this is a bylaw interpretation question and outside the scope of the forum.

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