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Quietstorm

Bylaws conflict relative to election

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Good day all. There is a definite conflict in our bylaws when it comes to elections. In short that section of our bylaws calls for one "Class" of member (Retired) to be able to cast two votes (during the same election for one of the Boards 9 seats, for a "Retired" member), and the other "Class" of member (Active) may only cast a vote for one of the remaining 8 seats, but may not vote for the "Retirees" seat. I was made aware, from my previous post, that under Robert's Rules, there is only one kind of member and that member has but one vote.  And that RONR 588 – 591 #2 reads: “When a provision of the bylaws is susceptible to two meanings, one of which conflicts with or renders absurd another bylaw provision, and the other meaning does not, the latter must be taken as the true meaning.” My questions: What, if any, recourse do I have at this point? Do I have to wait until after the upcoming election to contest it?  Thanks in advance.

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7 minutes ago, Quietstorm said:

I was made aware, from my previous post, that under Robert's Rules, there is only one kind of member and that member has but one vote.

This is true. RONR also provides, though, that your bylaws outrank RONR. If your bylaws create two classes of members, with different numbers of votes, then that is what you have. Whether or not that's a good idea is another question.

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By the way, this does not sound like a conflict or an ambiguity. If the bylaws said somewhere that Retired members could only vote for the "Retired" seat and, somewhere else, that Retired members could vote for both the Retired seat and one of the Other-8 seats, then there would be a conflict.

But it just says that Retired members can vote for the Retired seat AND one of the Other-8. Active members can vote for one of the Other-8. There is no conflict. If you are dissatisfied with these provisions of your bylaws, then you can follow the procedure to amend them.

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2 hours ago, Quietstorm said:

Good day all. There is a definite conflict in our bylaws when it comes to elections. In short that section of our bylaws calls for one "Class" of member (Retired) to be able to cast two votes (during the same election for one of the Boards 9 seats, for a "Retired" member), and the other "Class" of member (Active) may only cast a vote for one of the remaining 8 seats, but may not vote for the "Retirees" seat. I was made aware, from my previous post, that under Robert's Rules, there is only one kind of member and that member has but one vote.  And that RONR 588 – 591 #2 reads: “When a provision of the bylaws is susceptible to two meanings, one of which conflicts with or renders absurd another bylaw provision, and the other meaning does not, the latter must be taken as the true meaning.”

I don’t think this is a conflict, and I don’t think POI #2 is most relevant here. There is nothing meaningless or absurd about a position which can only be voted on by certain classes of members. Additionally, the fact that “under Robert’s Rules, there is only one kind of member and that member has but one vote” is irrelevant, because your bylaws take precedence over RONR. I would also note that no one votes twice on a particular issue under the provision you describe. Some members vote once on one issue and once on another, while other members may vote on only one of the issues.

I think the most applicable Principle of Interpretation is POI #3, which states that “A general statement or rule is always of less authority than a specific statement or rule and yields to it.” That is, the general rule (in your bylaws and RONR) is that all members may vote. The specific rule is that only retired members may vote on one of the board positions. So all members can vote on any issue, except for this board position, which only retired members may vote for.

I can see reasonable disagreements on whether this is a good rule, and you are free to seek to amend the bylaws to change this rule.

It will ultimately, of course, be up to the organization to interpret its own bylaws (see below), but I do not see a conflict.

2 hours ago, Quietstorm said:

My questions: What, if any, recourse do I have at this point? Do I have to wait until after the upcoming election to contest it?

For starters, what do you think the provision means? You have stated (or at least implied) that you do not think the interpretation that the retired members may vote on this position and other positions, while other members may vote only on the other positions, is reasonable. You have not stated, however, what you think the correct interpretation is. Do you think that it means that the retired members may vote only on the position for retired members? Or do you think it means that all members may vote on all positions?

If the former, you would raise a Point of Order when a retired member attempts to vote, or when a retired member’s vote is counted, in the election for the other board members. The chair would ask you to state your point. You would explain that you believe this is in violation of the bylaws, and why you think this is the case. The chair would rule your point well taken, meaning he agrees with you, or not well taken, meaning he disagrees. If the chair does not rule in your favor and you wish to pursue the matter further, you may Appeal from the decision of the chair. If this receives a second, the question will be placed in the hands of the assembly. A majority vote is required to overturn the chair’s ruling.

In the latter case, the procedure would be much the same, except you would raise the Point of Order when a non-retired member attempts to vote for the retired board member position and is prevented from doing so, or when such a member’s vote for that position is not counted.

In either case, you must wait until the election. A Point of Order is raised to draw attention to a perceived violation of the rules. Until the voting in the election occurs, no violation regarding the rules pertaining to the voting in the election could possibly occur.

The other option would be to try to amend the bylaws. The timing for that would depend on the rules in your bylaws concerning their amendment.

Edited by Josh Martin

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