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Absentee Ballots


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Since your quoted bylaw excerpt says that "Absentee ballots will be accepted and counted as a valid vote...", the answer to your question is yes, those votes must be counted as valid even if the question the vote references has been substantially modified by amendment at the meeting. You have correctly identified the big problem with absentee ballots  being allowed at the same time as in-person voting is taking place. RONR very strongly discourages this situation: "An organization should never adopt a bylaw permitting a question to be decided by a voting procedure in which the votes of persons who attend a meeting are counted together with ballots mailed in by absentees." (RONR, 11th ed. p. 423, ll.25-28).

Since your organization has chosen to do this anyway, you'll have to decide how to handle the situation that may occur if changes to a question that occur during a meeting render some or all absentee votes meaningless. Your best course of action, clearly, would be to amend your bylaws to comply with RONR's prescription.

By the way, even your elections, where nominees appear to be selected and announced to the membership prior to the election meeting, are not immune to this problem. If no candidate receives a majority on the first ballot, then repeated rounds of balloting are required, and no absentee has the ability to take that in to account. In some such cases, one of the nominees may elect to withdraw from consideration. Absentee ballots for this nominee do not take this into account and must still be credited to him or her, and thus will become wasted votes. 

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  • Dan Honemann changed the title to Absentee Ballots
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