Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums

Recommended Posts

Guest Who's Coming to Dinner

If you live in a free country, you can talk to board members whenever you like. But a decision cannot be taken outside of a properly called meeting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

RONR pg. 429, ll. 16-27 states:

STRAW POLLS NOT IN ORDER. A motion to take an informal straw poll to "test the water" is not in order because it neither adopts nor rejects a measure and hence is meaningless and dilatory. If the assembly wishes to discuss and take a vote on a matter without the vote constituting final action by the assembly, it may instead vote to go into a committee of the whole or a quasi committee of the whole (52). Under these procedures, the assembly considers the matter as would a committee, and its vote while in committee of the whole (or quasi committee of the whole) serves only as a recommendation to the assembly, which the assembly is free to reject just as would be the case with regard to the report of any ordinary committee.

Of course, that assumes you are in a meeting. It sounds as though you are possibly discussing what may be done prior to a meeting, in which case Robert's Rules is not applicable. I suppose prior to a meeting you could ask something like, "if you were to vote at this moment, how would you vote?" on a matter. But one of the underlying principles of parliamentary procedure is that decisions should be made in settings where members can first discuss a matter, and those discussions may affect the outcome of the vote. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Iuec1 said:

Is it proper, and it's there a certain way to to poll the board members on their opinion (for or against) an action

Within a meeting, this is done by debate and voting.  RONR prohibits the practice of "straw polls" by saying:

STRAW POLLS NOT IN ORDER. A motion to take an informal straw poll to “test the water” is not in order because it neither adopts nor rejects a measure and hence is meaningless and dilatory. If the assembly wishes to discuss and take a vote on a matter without the vote constituting final action by the assembly, it may instead vote to go into a committee of the whole or a quasi committee of the whole ([§]52). Under these procedures, the assembly considers the matter as would a committee, and its vote while in committee of the whole (or quasi committee of the whole) serves only as a recommendation to the assembly, which the assembly is free to reject just as would be the case with regard to the report of any ordinary committee.

 

Outside a meeting, the rules in RONR are silent, except to note that no action may be taken by the board outside of a regular or properly called meeting at which a quorum is present. In public bodies, so-called Sunshine Laws usually prohibit even informal discussions outside of meetings.

__________

"Outside of a dog, a book in Man's best friend.  Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."  --Groucho Marx

Edited by Gary Novosielski

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if mr. Novosielski bothered to read Dr. Goodwiller's post before posting the same answer and quoting the same lengthy passage from RONR.

Moving on, the original poster asked il there is a way to poll the members for their opinion on something. The answer is, yes there is. Although RONR prohibits taking straw polls, that is a rule of order which may be suspended. If you can get a 2/3 Vote or unanimous consent to do so, you simply suspend the rules and conduct your straw poll.

Note: I am neither advocating for or against taking the straw poll. I am simply answering the original poster's question about whether it is possible to take one. Yes, it is, by suspending the rules.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not arguing, but rather honestly asking...

Does suspending the rules make the straw poll any less dilatory? And isn't that the reason such a poll is out of order?  So, are we, in effect, suspending the rules to allow a dilatory motion?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Tom Coronite said:

Not arguing, but rather honestly asking...

Does suspending the rules make the straw poll any less dilatory? And isn't that the reason such a poll is out of order?  So, are we, in effect, suspending the rules to allow a dilatory motion?

I think RONR considers it not in order primarily because it neither adopts nor rejects anything.  As to being dilatory,  if a straw poll is dilatory, why on earth would going into a committee of the whole to do the same thing not be dilatory and probably much more time consuming?   If the question is simply a question as to whether a majority of the members prefer a picnic or a meal at a restaurant for their Memorial Day celebration, I think the straw poll is much quicker and simpler.  Then, after the assembly expresses its preference via the straw poll, they can appoint a committee to commence looking into restaurant alternatives and to make a recommendation at the next meeting. 

Going into a committee of the whole to do the same thing would likely take an hour of their time!!  Heck, I am willing to bet that the majority of small clubs and organizations don't even know what a committee of the whole is or how it functions or what it can and cannot do.  But we all know what a straw poll does:  it lets people express a non-binding preference.  And it takes only a few seconds.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last sentence

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wouldn't you save even more time by moving to refer the restaurant question to committee, and seeing if it gets amended to instead appoint a picnic committee?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Tom Coronite said:

Does suspending the rules make the straw poll any less dilatory? And isn't that the reason such a poll is out of order?  So, are we, in effect, suspending the rules to allow a dilatory motion?

No, of course, suspending the rules in and of itself does not make a dilatory motion any less dilatory. If a motion to suspend the rules is adopted by a 2/3 vote, however, this calls into question whether the straw poll is, in fact, “meaningless and dilatory” in this particular instance. Presumably the members who voted to suspend the rules did not feel that it was meaningless or dilatory.

Another solution would be to recess. In such a case, the assembly is not currently meeting, so the prohibition against straw polls does not apply. This also has the advantage of requiring only a majority vote.

11 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

Wouldn't you save even more time by moving to refer the restaurant question to committee, and seeing if it gets amended to instead appoint a picnic committee?

Probably.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

Wouldn't you save even more time by moving to refer the restaurant question to committee, and seeing if it gets amended to instead appoint a picnic committee?

Only if the Committee was authorized to meet in the restaurant and sample the menu - on the association's dime, of course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Tom Coronite said:

Not arguing, but rather honestly asking...

Does suspending the rules make the straw poll any less dilatory? And isn't that the reason such a poll is out of order?  So, are we, in effect, suspending the rules to allow a dilatory motion?

 

4 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

I think RONR considers it not in order primarily because it neither adopts nor rejects anything.  As to being dilatory,  if a straw poll is dilatory, why on earth would going into a committee of the whole to do the same thing not be dilatory and probably much more time consuming?   If the question is simply a question as to whether a majority of the members prefer a picnic or a meal at a restaurant for their Memorial Day celebration, I think the straw poll is much quicker and simpler.  Then, after the assembly expresses its preference via the straw poll, they can appoint a committee to commence looking into restaurant alternatives and to make a recommendation at the next meeting. 

Going into a committee of the whole to do the same thing would likely take an hour of their time!!  Heck, I am willing to bet that the majority of small clubs and organizations don't even know what a committee of the whole is or how it functions or what it can and cannot do.  But we all know what a straw poll does:  it lets people express a non-binding preference.  And it takes only a few seconds.

 

3 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

No, of course, suspending the rules in and of itself does not make a dilatory motion any less dilatory. If a motion to suspend the rules is adopted by a 2/3 vote, however, this calls into question whether the straw poll is, in fact, “meaningless and dilatory” in this particular instance. Presumably the members who voted to suspend the rules did not feel that it was meaningless or dilatory.

Another solution would be to recess. In such a case, the assembly is not currently meeting, so the prohibition against straw polls does not apply. This also has the advantage of requiring only a majority vote.

Probably.

 

Thank you, both, for your explanations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

I wonder if mr. Novosielski bothered to read Dr. Goodwiller's post before posting the same answer and quoting the same lengthy passage from RONR.

No, I'm quite certain that Dr. Goodwiller's excellent post wasn't there, at least at the time I began to write my response, or I could have saved myself the trouble.  I suspect that I began to reply, and then was called away for an extended period before I returned to finish and hit Submit.  The forum does warn when other people have replied but that warning is transient, fading out after a few moments.

It is some comfort, however, to reflect that great minds think alike.  :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×