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Logistical question: How do we distinguish members from nonmembers during a vote?


Benjamin Geiger
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[Is there a better place to ask advice on matters that don't directly involve interpretation of RONR? - BG]

We are a county chapter of a political party. As such, the consensus is that our proceedings affect everyone registered as a member of the party, whether or not they are a voting member of the organization, and as such, we historically have permitted nonmembers to attend and participate in debate. (Yes, I know there's a rule in RONR against participation in debate, but I've been picking my battles; I intend to propose a special rule of order in the near future to make it formally acceptable.)

The problem comes down to voting. We don't allow nonmembers to vote, of course, but in several cases we've caught nonmembers attempting to vote on contentious motions. They've only been caught because a couple of eagle-eyed members were suspicious and saw them voting. The vote was voided and retaken with more caution.

One option we've considered is requiring nonmembers to remain in a specific part of the room, but as I understand it, there are many cases where members and nonmembers wish to sit together (often one spouse is a member), and we generally have members sitting in most of the areas and standing along most walls.

I've seen suggestions to use voting cards for divisions of the assembly, but I'm not sure of the logistics of that, and I know that a large number would wander off after each meeting.

Or we could go into executive session for the particularly contentious votes, or use roll-call votes (but at 100+ members, that'd take quite a while).

What should we do to keep our votes secure?

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11 minutes ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

(Yes, I know there's a rule in RONR against participation in debate, but I've been picking my battles; I intend to propose a special rule of order in the near future to make it formally acceptable.)

Well, it can be suspended, and it appears your organization has done so unanimously...until, of course, it hasn't.

12 minutes ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

The problem comes down to voting. We don't allow nonmembers to vote, of course, but in several cases we've caught nonmembers attempting to vote on contentious motions. They've only been caught because a couple of eagle-eyed members were suspicious and saw them voting. The vote was voided and retaken with more caution.

 

Are these voice votes? If so, I'm not sure much can be done (other than getting more honest members, although that is hard for a political party). If it's a balloted vote, of course, you can have the tellers control who turns in ballots.

13 minutes ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

 One option we've considered is requiring nonmembers to remain in a specific part of the room, but as I understand it, there are many cases where members and nonmembers wish to sit together (often one spouse is a member), and we generally have members sitting in most of the areas and standing along most walls.

 

Well, you can't have everything. Why would spouses want to sit together, anyway? Aren't they sick of each other yet? 

13 minutes ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

 I've seen suggestions to use voting cards for divisions of the assembly, but I'm not sure of the logistics of that, and I know that a large number would wander off after each meeting.

 

You could credential people at each meeting and make the voting cards temporary. If you want to do it on the cheap, just get colored index cards, and don't let people know ahead of time what color you'll be using. Or don't they give out membership cards or whatever when you pay your dues?

14 minutes ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

 Or we could go into executive session for the particularly contentious votes, or use roll-call votes (but at 100+ members, that'd take quite a while).

 

Yes you could, and yes it would.

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On 7/6/2018 at 8:23 PM, Benjamin Geiger said:

One option we've considered is requiring nonmembers to remain in a specific part of the room, but as I understand it, there are many cases where members and nonmembers wish to sit together (often one spouse is a member), and we generally have members sitting in most of the areas and standing along most walls.

I've seen suggestions to use voting cards for divisions of the assembly, but I'm not sure of the logistics of that, and I know that a large number would wander off after each meeting.

How do other units of your party handle such matters? I rather doubt that this problem is unique to this county.

Personally, I think voting cards is the best option (since it seems that separate seating, which in my experience is the usual solution, is not desired). Given the size of the assembly, it may be best to adopt some of the tactics normally used with conventions. A "credentials committee" of sorts could be responsible for printing, distributing, and collecting the voting cards. The table for the committee should be placed at the entrance to the meeting hall.

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3 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

How do other units of your party handle such matters? I rather doubt that this problem is unique to this county.

Personally, I think voting cards is the best option (since it seems that separate seating, which in my experience is the usual solution, is not desired). Given the size of the assembly, it may be best to adopt some of the tactics normally used with conventions. A "credentials committee" of sorts could be responsible for printing, distributing, and collecting the voting cards. The table for the committee should be placed at the entrance to the meeting hall.

Agreeing, but noting that it would require a special rule.

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I agree with all of the previous answers, but especially with the response by Josh Martin.  The two most common methods of controlling who is voting in situations such as you describe is to require voting members (or delegates) to sit up front and guests in the back and/or  to use voting cards. It is quite common for guests to be required to sit in a separate section in the back of the room.

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