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Nullify a vote


Guest Guest chris
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Recently we had a member of a volunteer fire company apply for honorary life membership. By our bylaws this requires 15 years of service and was voted on and passed. After the meeting was adjourned it came to our attention that the last two years the member did not meet the attendance requirements and only had 13 years of service. Is it possible to nullify the vote returning the member back to the previous class of membership?

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You should raise a point of order regarding the qualifications for honorary membership in the bylaws at the next meeting. But if it's anything like the FDs I've been in, consider bringing a pizza box or something to deflect the things that get thrown at you.

Also, you will want to line up people to support you, to second an appeal, etc. ahead of time. Springing it on people will look, to people who don't understand why rules matter, a lot like "this jerk is attacking our heroic former leader!"

Edited by Joshua Katz
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It may not be null and void depending on your specific language. My old fire department had a class of membership called veteran member. The main requirement was 15 years of membership. It did not define that in any way. We did have a rule about making a certain number of points to remain active but other than being able to vote and not having to pay dues there was no benefit to making your points. Inactive members were still considered members and still accrued time. As dumb as it sounds you could show up after a few years of inactivity and apply for veteran membership, which happened often. 

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1 hour ago, AFS1970 said:

It may not be null and void depending on your specific language. My old fire department had a class of membership called veteran member. The main requirement was 15 years of membership. It did not define that in any way. We did have a rule about making a certain number of points to remain active but other than being able to vote and not having to pay dues there was no benefit to making your points. Inactive members were still considered members and still accrued time. As dumb as it sounds you could show up after a few years of inactivity and apply for veteran membership, which happened often. 

I agree everything depends on the language, but what we were told is that the qualification is (among other things) 15 years, and that this member had only 13 years. Certainly I can imagine hard cases when it comes to defining 15 years of service, but if you've only been a member for 13 years, that one seems pretty straightforward. I suppose it is possible to interpret the original post as saying that the person was a member for 15 years, but didn't meet attendance requirements for 2 of them, in which case I agree one would need to parse the bylaws carefully to determine if the member is qualified. In any case, though, interpretation is for the organization, and the organization will figure it out when a point of order is raised.

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15 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

I suppose it is possible to interpret the original post as saying that the person was a member for 15 years, but didn't meet attendance requirements for 2 of them, in which case I agree one would need to parse the bylaws carefully to determine if the member is qualified.

That is how I read it, but it is somewhat ambiguous.

On 6/11/2018 at 9:05 PM, Guest Guest chris said:

After the meeting was adjourned it came to our attention that the last two years the member did not meet the attendance requirements and only had 13 years of service.

This sentence could be read as saying that the individual had 15 years of service, but that he did not meet attendance requirements for the last two years, and as a result the member only had 13 years of service that “count” toward the requirement (in the OP’s opinion). In this event, this is certainly a matter of interpretation.

On the other hand, I can also see how this sentence can be read as saying that the member had only 13 years of service in total and that, in addition to this, he did not meet the attendance requirements for the last two years. I agree that there is no ambiguity that 13 is less than 15.

17 hours ago, AFS1970 said:

It may not be null and void depending on your specific language. My old fire department had a class of membership called veteran member. The main requirement was 15 years of membership. It did not define that in any way. We did have a rule about making a certain number of points to remain active but other than being able to vote and not having to pay dues there was no benefit to making your points. Inactive members were still considered members and still accrued time. As dumb as it sounds you could show up after a few years of inactivity and apply for veteran membership, which happened often. 

If the member has 15 or more years of service but they are not all “active” years, that is one thing, but if the member has fewer than 15 years of service (active or otherwise), then I think there is no dispute that, based upon the facts provided, he is not eligible for honorary life membership.

Edited by Josh Martin
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