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Larry J. Randle

Election of Chair - small assembly

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Scenario: A municipal Council of 7 members elected at large by the public for a four year term are required by state law to hold an "organizational" meeting every October to elect the Chair and Vice-Chair for the year. The state law and the Bylaws are both silent on the  procedures to be followed for nominations and the election itself. If three of the seven members are nominated for Chair and vote taken results in a 3-2-2 split, several more elections are taken and the result remains 3-2-2 - no candidate has a majority. Even if a Special Rule of Order (RONR 11th p. 441) is adopted to drop the candidate with the lowest number of votes, this still obviously leaves an awkward situation. By adopting such a Special Rule of Order, the next vote would effectively and presumably elect the member who had the three votes due to the fact that the member(s) with the lowest number of votes (two in this case) would be dropped from the ballot. What is a recommended way to manage this slightly awkward circumstance? Thanks in advance.

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Perhaps...  meeting by meeting, elect a chair pro temp to preside and get (critical) municipal business done.  Agree to rotate the pro tem chairmanship through the three candidates for a few rounds of meetings.  After they all have had a fair chance at the job, and the members have watched them at it, a vote or two might change.  Or one might realize that he/she didn't want the job after all.

Maybe...  (that's the best I can do on a rainy Sunday morning).

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Another option I have seen is to have a rule of order that says, if there is a tie for the lowest vote-getter and there is only one other candidate (ie: the one who got 3 votes in this situation), that you do a run-off between the two tied nominees. Be very clear that people are voting on which one STAYS on the ballot. Then the winner of that runoff goes on a ballot with the top vote-getter.

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1 hour ago, Larry J. Randle said:

Even if a Special Rule of Order (RONR 11th p. 441) is adopted to drop the candidate with the lowest number of votes, this still obviously leaves an awkward situation. By adopting such a Special Rule of Order, the next vote would effectively and presumably elect the member who had the three votes due to the fact that the member(s) with the lowest number of votes (two in this case) would be dropped from the ballot.

I would not presume that. Even if such a special rule is adopted, the members are still free to vote for any eligible candidate.

”An organization could suspend the rules, or adopt a special rule of order, so that the nominee with the fewest votes is dropped from the list of nominees for succeeding ballots in the expectation that voters will then confine their choice to the remaining nominees. Only a bylaws provision, however, could make the dropped nominee ineligible for election so as to render illegal any subsequent votes cast for that nominee. (See pp. 430–31.)” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 441, footnote)

1 hour ago, Larry J. Randle said:

What is a recommended way to manage this slightly awkward circumstance? 

The assembly (and the candidates) will have to reach some sort of compromise.

18 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

Another option I have seen is to have a rule of order that says, if there is a tie for the lowest vote-getter and there is only one other candidate (ie: the one who got 3 votes in this situation), that you do a run-off between the two tied nominees. Be very clear that people are voting on which one STAYS on the ballot. Then the winner of that runoff goes on a ballot with the top vote-getter.

Even if such a rule is adopted, however, members are still free to vote for the dropped nominees, unless a rule in the bylaws provides otherwise.

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Guest Who's Coming to Dinner
3 hours ago, jstackpo said:

Perhaps...  meeting by meeting, elect a chair pro temp to preside and get (critical) municipal business done.  Agree to rotate the pro tem chairmanship through the three candidates for a few rounds of meetings.  After they all have had a fair chance at the job, and the members have watched them at it, a vote or two might change.  Or one might realize that he/she didn't want the job after all.

Maybe...  (that's the best I can do on a rainy Sunday morning).

Wouldn't that put them in breach of the requirement to elect a chairman at the "organizational meeting"? It would seem that they cannot end the session until they have done so.

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Yeah, but they could try,  at each meeting, to elect a chair, and then continue with an "incomplete election" over to the next meeting, and so on.

Also p. 444 (line 13) says that you try again at the next "regular business session".  No suggestion, that I can see, that there is a requirement to complete the election in the same session.

And finally (just to pile on) chances are that all the meetings of the "municipal Council" from October to October are all one session - but that would be in the laws for the municipality.

Edited by jstackpo
Correct my spelling

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1 hour ago, Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said:

Wouldn't that put them in breach of the requirement to elect a chairman at the "organizational meeting"? It would seem that they cannot end the session until they have done so.

Regardless of whether it puts them in some kind of breach of the bylaw requirement to elect the chairman at this meeting, they are perfectly free to adjourn any time there is a majority vote to adjourn.  They can't be kept in a meeting against their will.

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6 hours ago, Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said:

Wouldn't that put them in breach of the requirement to elect a chairman at the "organizational meeting"? It would seem that they cannot end the session until they have done so.

Where do you get this idea?

“A matter that the bylaws require to be attended to at a specified session, such as the election of officers, cannot, in advance and through a main motion, be postponed to another session. It can be taken up at any time when it is in order during the specified session (that is, either as originally convened or at any adjournment of it); and it can be postponed to an adjourned meeting in the manner explained above, after first adopting, if necessary, a motion to Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn. The adjourned meeting, as already stated, is a continuation of the same session. The procedure of postponing such a matter to an adjourned meeting is sometimes advisable, as in an annual meeting for the election of officers on a stormy night when, although a quorum is present, the attendance is abnormally small. If the matter has actually been taken up during the specified session as required, it also may be postponed beyond that session in accordance with the regular rules for the motion to Postpone. It is usually unwise to do so, however, unless completing it during the session proves impossible or impractical.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 185)

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