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Should Conference Delegates Caucus with Members


Guest Rochelle
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Our chapter has voted and the outcome decided.  I wanted a "Point of View" on if we did the right thing.

Ten elected delegates from my chapter are attending our national conference to vote on our national officers.  There are numerous candidates running for each vacancy and we have directed the candidates to listen to the campaign speeches and caucus to decide on the "best candidate."  A motion was made that members attending the conference caucus with the delegates to provide their input on who the delegates should vote for on election day.  Is it appropriate for the delegates and members to meet to decide the outcome?  Meeting and having conversation is one thing but I think the group might be looking to vote.

I will not be in attendance at the meeting and we've already voted that the meeting will happen.  Does Roberts Rules of Order address the function of delegates and if this meeting is appropriate? 

 

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It is not clear from your post whether the delegation has been instructed to "vote as a unit (that is, to cast all of its votes in accord with the decision of the majority of the delegation)" (p. 606, lines 27-29).

If so, and with your saying that you "think the group might be looking to vote", then I would suggest that only the delegates can vote on the decision of who to support. The delegation is, in effect, a committee (p. 606, line 3) and while a committee can hear from non-committee-members, only members of the committee vote. This is analogous to a committee holding hearings.
"When a committee is to make substantive recommendations or decisions on an important matter, it should give members of the society an opportunity to appear before it and present their views on the subject at a time scheduled by the committee. Such a meeting is usually called a hearing. During actual deliberations of the committee, only committee
members have the right to be present." (p. 501, lines 7-13)

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I'm not sure I buy Mr. Kapur is saying. The delegates are selected by, and empowered by (presumably) the assembly. Why can't the assembly, barring some rule of its own preventing it, then give instructions to the delegates? Of course, there are likely some rules, cutting one way or the other, of the parent organization, and perhaps applicable statutes. I'm just having trouble seeing why instructions couldn't be given as per RONR.

It would remain true that the delegates could, of course, ignore those instructions, and while they'd face disciplinary action, their votes would be perfectly valid, so in some sense it is impossible to instruct them. But as a matter of parliamentary procedure, I don't see the issue. 

I also don't find the committee comparison persuasive. The assembly can give instructions to committees under the right circumstances, can it not?

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Of course the assembly can instruct the delegation. I never said otherwise. But the issue for the OP, which I share, is that the instructions are not adequately clear.

We are told that the assembly instructed the delegation to caucus and further instructed that "members attending the conference caucus with the delegates to provide their input on who the delegates should vote for". That leads to the question: What is the role of the non-delegate members? Are they to formally take part in the decision-making (ie: vote on which candidates the delegates should vote for) or are they just "providing their input" and only the delegates will make the decision?

To help answer this question, which seemed to be at the core of the OP's post, I referred to §58 "Conventions of Delegates" and particularly the paragraphs on Caucuses on pages 605-607.

5 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

I also don't find the committee comparison persuasive.

You'll have to take that up with the authorship team 🙂
"Unless instructed otherwise by its parent society or unit, such a caucus [the unit's delegates to the convention] is governed by the rules of procedure applicable to
committees
(50), since the delegation is in effect a committee to represent and act at the convention for the constituent society or unit that chose it." (p. 606, lines 1-5) [emphasis added]

Edited by Atul Kapur, PRP "Student"
tried to make things clearer
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5 minutes ago, Atul Kapur, PRP "Student" said:

"Unless instructed otherwise by its parent society or unit, such a caucus [the unit's delegates to the convention] is governed by the rules of procedure applicable to
 committees
(50), since the delegation is in effect a committee to represent and act at the convention for the constituent society or unit that chose it." (p. 606, lines 1-5) [emphasis added]

I'm sorry, I was unclear. I meant that I didn't find it persuasive simply because committees can be given instructions, not because a delegation is not like a committee.

5 minutes ago, Atul Kapur, PRP "Student" said:

Of course the assembly can instruct the delegation. I never said otherwise. But the issue for the OP, which I share, is that the instructions are not adequately clear.

 

Well, lack of clarity is a concern, but I have trouble seeing how it fits in with your previous comment.

6 minutes ago, Atul Kapur, PRP "Student" said:

 We are told that the assembly instructed the delegation to caucus and further instructed that "members attending the conference caucus with the delegates to provide their input on who the delegates should vote for". That leads to the question: What is the role of the non-delegate members? Are they to formally take part in the decision-making (ie: vote on which candidates the delegates should vote for) or are they just "providing their input" and only the delegates will make the decision?

 

Again, I agree this is less than clear (although it would make the most sense to treat it as the second, since that would violate no rules, while the first would). It seemed to me like your previous comment was suggesting that there was something improper in giving instructions to the delegates, or instructing them to consider the views of non-delegate members. If not, I withdraw my disagreement.

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The assembly can instruct the delegation on how to vote (typically on a first ballot only), but a random group of members who attended some speeches and meets informally with the delegation cannot.  There is no reason why such a group can't meet with delegates and carry on a conversation about issues, but to give binding instructions would require adopting a motion at a proper meeting of the assembly.

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1 hour ago, Gary Novosielski said:

The assembly can instruct the delegation on how to vote (typically on a first ballot only), but a random group of members who attended some speeches and meets informally with the delegation cannot.  There is no reason why such a group can't meet with delegates and carry on a conversation about issues, but to give binding instructions would require adopting a motion at a proper meeting of the assembly.

But the facts here say nothing about the group of people giving binding instructions. That said, why couldn't the assembly adopt a motion authorizing the random group of people to give binding instructions? It's the full assembly, not a board.

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On 6/29/2018 at 3:34 PM, Guest Rochelle said:

Our chapter has voted and the outcome decided.  I wanted a "Point of View" on if we did the right thing.

Ten elected delegates from my chapter are attending our national conference to vote on our national officers.  There are numerous candidates running for each vacancy and we have directed the candidates to listen to the campaign speeches and caucus to decide on the "best candidate."  A motion was made that members attending the conference caucus with the delegates to provide their input on who the delegates should vote for on election day.  Is it appropriate for the delegates and members to meet to decide the outcome?  Meeting and having conversation is one thing but I think the group might be looking to vote.

I will not be in attendance at the meeting and we've already voted that the meeting will happen.  Does Roberts Rules of Order address the function of delegates and if this meeting is appropriate? 

 

"Prior to or during a convention, members of a delegation may need or wish to meet as a group to decide how they will act with reference to certain matters to come before the convention; a meeting of this kind is usually called a caucus"  RONR (11th ed.), p. 605

My understanding of the facts is the delegates will meet and, yes, decide how to proceed.  They will be receiving input from others.  So what? What did I miss in the original post?

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3 hours ago, George Mervosh said:

What did I miss in the original post?

 

On 6/29/2018 at 3:34 PM, Guest Rochelle said:

Meeting and having conversation is one thing but I think the group might be looking to vote.

The question that I read in Guest Rochelle's original post was what, exactly, is to be the role of non-delegate members? Her concern, from the part I bolded, seems to be that the instructions may be interpreted to mean that the entire group (delegates and non) would vote and that the delegates would be bound to follow the decision of that group.

I said above (and believe J. Katz agrees with me after I clarified) that the instructions were not be clear and it would be more appropriate for the delegates to hear the views of the non-delegate members but that, if it comes to a vote, only the delegates should take part in that vote.

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19 hours ago, Atul Kapur, PRP "Student" said:

 

The question that I read in Guest Rochelle's original post was what, exactly, is to be the role of non-delegate members? Her concern, from the part I bolded, seems to be that the instructions may be interpreted to mean that the entire group (delegates and non) would vote and that the delegates would be bound to follow the decision of that group.

I said above (and believe J. Katz agrees with me after I clarified) that the instructions were not be clear and it would be more appropriate for the delegates to hear the views of the non-delegate members but that, if it comes to a vote, only the delegates should take part in that vote.

Absolutely.

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