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Email Meetings


Guest Hilda
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40 minutes ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

Only if the bylaws explicitly authorize them. In any case, they're a bad idea.

Agreed, and I would suggest that even if the bylaws authorize the Executive Board to conduct business by e-mail, such exchanges are not really “meetings” in the parliamentary sense.

“A group that attempts to conduct the deliberative process in writing—such as by postal mail, electronic mail (e-mail), or facsimile transmission (fax)—does not constitute a deliberative assembly. When making decisions by such means, many situations unprecedented in parliamentary law will arise, and many of its rules and customs will not be applicable (see also pp. 97–99).” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 1, footnote)

“It is important to understand that, regardless of the technology used, the opportunity for simultaneous aural communication is essential to the deliberative character of the meeting. Therefore, a group that attempts to conduct the deliberative process in writing (such as by postal mail, e-mail, "chat rooms," or fax)—which is not recommended—does not constitute a deliberative assembly. Any such effort may achieve a consultative character, but it is foreign to the deliberative process as understood under parliamentary law.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 98)

Edited by Josh Martin
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1 hour ago, Josh Martin said:

Agreed, and I would suggest that even if the bylaws authorize the Executive Board to conduct business by e-mail, such exchanges are not really “meetings” in the parliamentary sense.

“A group that attempts to conduct the deliberative process in writing—such as by postal mail, electronic mail (e-mail), or facsimile transmission (fax)—does not constitute a deliberative assembly. When making decisions by such means, many situations unprecedented in parliamentary law will arise, and many of its rules and customs will not be applicable (see also pp. 97–99).” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 1, footnote)

“It is important to understand that, regardless of the technology used, the opportunity for simultaneous aural communication is essential to the deliberative character of the meeting. Therefore, a group that attempts to conduct the deliberative process in writing (such as by postal mail, e-mail, "chat rooms," or fax)—which is not recommended—does not constitute a deliberative assembly. Any such effort may achieve a consultative character, but it is foreign to the deliberative process as understood under parliamentary law.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 98)

I agree completely. Email voting can be authorized, particularly when a matter has been discussed first in a meeting that meets the criteria for a meeting. Additionally, bylaws may contain a provision for "action between meetings" (or similar wording), which is often required by state law anyway. In that case, it ought to be defined carefully in the bylaws as essentially a "unanimous consent" action - meaning that if even a single member objects or even wishes to have discussion on the matter, then a real meeting (which, if the bylaws authorize it, may be by conference call or other technology) is required.

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