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Bylaw vs Constitution


Guest Gene
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In Robert’s Rules on page 250  there is a statement that says: “a rule in the bylaws requiring a vote to be taken by ballot”.  If there is a rule in our constitution that states this requirement but is not in the bylaws, does this still apply? I have been challenged that this doesn’t apply since it is not mentioned in our “bylaws” that a ballot is required but only in the “constitution” of our organization that this is stated therefore the Robert’s Rules statement doesn’t apply. How do I explain that the use of the word “bylaw” in Robert’s Rules includes anything in a constitution as well and not only a bylaw? Am I wrong?

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I don't have my book in front of me, but I assume you're referring to the rule that a rule in the bylaws requiring a balloted vote may not be suspended, and applies even when an election is uncontested. That rule applies as well where the constitution requires a balloted vote. The constitution "outranks" the bylaws. Think of it this way: if the constitution required a balloted vote, and the bylaws said "under no circumstances should there be a balloted vote," you'd follow the constitution and hold the vote by ballot. Additionally, RONR provides that rules in the constitution not clearly in the nature of a rule of order cannot be suspended, just as is the case for the bylaws.

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2 hours ago, Guest Gene said:

In Robert’s Rules on page 250  there is a statement that says: “a rule in the bylaws requiring a vote to be taken by ballot”.  If there is a rule in our constitution that states this requirement but is not in the bylaws, does this still apply? I have been challenged that this doesn’t apply since it is not mentioned in our “bylaws” that a ballot is required but only in the “constitution” of our organization that this is stated therefore the Robert’s Rules statement doesn’t apply. How do I explain that the use of the word “bylaw” in Robert’s Rules includes anything in a constitution as well and not only a bylaw? Am I wrong?

You're right (except that you may have meant to refer to page 251 rather than page 250 🙂).

Take a look at what is said on page 12, line 8 to page 15, line 3, and on page 565, line 5 to page 566, line 16.

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