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Not really.  The unhappy member had his chance to complain, perhaps by raising a point of order during the debate on the motion.  That would have gone in the minutes. As DH notes, "present" is not a proper form of voting except in a roll-call vote, and even then it doesn't represent any sort of "complaint".

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12 hours ago, Caryn Ann Harlos said:

If a member votes "present" as an act of protest at the way a matter is handled is it improper to note that (though it counts as an abstain) if the member wishes it to be?

I'm not sure what you mean by "note that".  As DH posted, a response of Present would be entered in the minutes, along with the other responses during a roll-call (recorded) vote, whether the member wishes it or not.  And in other types of voting, there is no opportunity to have one's individual vote recorded.  The traditional way of withholding approval is to vote No.

It would not be proper to note in the minutes that the non-vote was an act of protest.  If a member wishes to express disapproval of the way a matter is handled, the time to do so is during debate on the question.  If the way of handling it breaks a rule, then the appropriate action would be to raise a Point of Order, which would be entered in the minutes.

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Okay, I have some followups.

This was a roll call vote.  So if everyone else voted no or abstain, and one member voted present, that difference is noted?

(and our organization has a custom of including more details in the minutes and often include things that the members request as it gives needed context for the wider membership)

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1 hour ago, Caryn Ann Harlos said:

Okay, I have some followups.

This was a roll call vote.  So if everyone else voted no or abstain, and one member voted present, that difference is noted?

(and our organization has a custom of including more details in the minutes and often include things that the members request as it gives needed context for the wider membership)

In a roll-call vote on a motion, a voter may answer by saying "yes" ("yea"), "no" ("nay"), or "present" ("abstain"). These responses are all recorded in the minutes. The names of members who do not respond at all are entered in the minutes only if necessary to reflect the attendance of a quorum.

I suggest you take a careful look at what is said relating to roll-call votes on pages 420-423 of RONR (11th ed.).  

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I will re-review those pages, and I apologize if I am not clear on one point.  "Present" is never used with this board.  That is why this member used it.  So the issue is including it separate from the abstains but counting it with the abstains.  I know the answers here are under the strict interpretation of RONR and I will need to take into consideration the practice and custom of the body.

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2 hours ago, Caryn Ann Harlos said:

(and our organization has a custom of including more details in the minutes and often include things that the members request as it gives needed context for the wider membership)

Hmm, take a look at pages 468ff about minutes, while you have the book open.  Keep up your present practice and two (or more) things are almost sure to happen -- if they haven't already...

1)   You will end up with (pointless) arguments about exactly what people said because they think that the secretary got the words wrong.

2)  You will have a lot of turnover in the secretary position as volunteers decide that there is too much work transcribing things, and then debating about them later.

A third possibility is that folks will come late (or not at all) to meetings to avoid sitting through long recitations of those minutes. I know I used to.

Minutes should be minimalist:  "what was done, not what was said"  Put the other (entirely valuable, to be sure) stuff in a newsletter. .

Edited by jstackpo
Finish typing - hit send too soon!

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3 hours ago, Caryn Ann Harlos said:

 "Present" is never used with this board.  That is why this member used it.  So the issue is including it separate from the abstains but counting it with the abstains

If she had said "affirmative" or "in favour" instead of yes, then you would have counted it as a yes and marked her as supporting the motion. My point is that the use of a non-standard term does not create a new category of how she voted or, in this case, how she abstained. She either voted Yes, voted No, or Abstained, no matter what specific word she used to indicate that.

You apparently have a custom of including more in the minutes than is required or recommended. This member should have followed your current custom to have her opinions recorded in the minutes. What she is trying to do here is to create, all by herself, a brand new custom. I would strongly suggest that you not indulge her. Record her abstention. When the minutes come up for approval, she can try to amend them to include her opinions then. I say that it is an amendment rather than a correction to the minutes because you have followed your customs in the way you drafted them.

And, fortunately for him and for you, Dr. Stackpole will not be there to see that happen.

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Guest Who's Coming to Dinner

In roll-call voting, a record of how each member voted, as well as the result of the vote, should be entered in full in the journal or minutes.
RONR (11th ed.), p. 422, l. 9–11

To me, this suggests that whatever the member answered should be recorded.

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Guest Caryn Ann Harlos

I am... as well as a professional paralegal of more than two decades experience.

I’m also the lay historian doing extensive archival work and I thank the gods for the past ones that included more for context.

I love knowing and mastering the rules but on things don’t don’t affect rights they are a tool and not a master.

the organization decides and membership prefers more details.  Not a transcript by any stretch of the imagination but more than listed in RONR

 

 

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40 minutes ago, Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said:

To me, this suggests that whatever the member answered should be recorded.

So you're saying that "affirmative", "in favour", and "110% in favour" should all be recorded separately? Not to mention, for international meetings, "oui", "ja", and "hai"? I've seen many quirky ways of expressing abstention and disagree that each individual response should be recorded just as it was said.

48 minutes ago, Guest Caryn Ann Harlos said:

I’m also the lay historian doing extensive archival work and I thank the gods for the past ones that included more for context.

My concern about this is that it presumes that these "minutes with context" are balanced or objective. I much prefer the option of having the minutes as per RONR along with a newsletter type of article that tells the stories around the meeting. For baseball fans it's analogous to the box score and the newspaper article about a game, which can include colour commentary and post-game interviews.

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46 minutes ago, Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said:

In roll-call voting, a record of how each member voted, as well as the result of the vote, should be entered in full in the journal or minutes.
RONR (11th ed.), p. 422, l. 9–11

To me, this suggests that whatever the member answered should be recorded.

"Whatever" the member answered?  Even if the member responded by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance?  I hardly think so. :)   However, that provision, along with others, does seem to suggest rather strongly that a response of "present" is permissible and should be noted by the secretary.

Other provisions in RONR suggest that a member may vote "present" in a roll call vote and that his response should be recorded as such.   For example, RONR says the following on page 421:


The roll is called in alphabetical order except that the presiding officer's name is called last, and only when his vote will affect the result. It is too late, after one person has answered to the roll call, to renew the debate. Each member, as his name is called, responds in the affirmative or negative as shown above. If he does not wish to vote, he answers present (or abstain). If he is not ready to vote, but wishes to be called on again after the roll has been completely called, he answers pass.


The secretary repeats each member's name and answer aloud as it is given and notes the answers to the roll call in separate columns. A convenient method of noting the answers is to write the number 1 to the left of the name of the first member answering in the affirmative, the number 2 to the left of the second name in the affirmative, and so on. The negative answers are treated similarly in a column to the right of the names; and those answering present are tallied in a third column, to the far right or left. In this way, the last number in each column shows how the vote stands at any given point in the list.

The secretary gives the final number of those voting on each side, and the number answering present, to the chair, [page 422] who announces these figures and declares the result

Also, language at the top of page 222 at lines 1 -6 which read as follows:

The chair, at his or her discretion, may direct, or the assembly may order, a "recapitulation"—a procedure in which the secretary calls out the names, first, of the members who voted in the affirmative, second, of the members who voted in the negative, and third, of the members who answered present, with the chair calling for any necessary corrections to each category after the names in that category have been called

Therefore, it seems to me that if a member votes "present" in a roll call vote, his vote could be and perhaps should be recorded as "present".  For all practical purposes it counts as an abstention, and could possibly be listed that way as well, the the quoted language from pages 421-144 do seem to make it clear that voting "present" in a roll call vote is permissible and should be so recorded by the secretary.

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Richard, if someone says "present" or "abstain" wouldn't they all be recorded the same way "in a third column, to the far right or left"? Along with anyone who says, for example, "I decline to vote"?

The point being that, whatever the actual words the person uses, if the intent is clearly to abstain then they get recorded in the third column. And that there are only three columns:

1) Yes / In Favour / Support / etc

2) No / Opposed / etc

3) Present / Abstain / etc

I don't think anything you quoted from RONR supports the idea that there are other variations that should be recorded differently. I don't think that is what you are saying, either, but I am hearing that from other posts.

Edited by Atul Kapur
Stop to see what Scorpion's reply was while I was typing this one.

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2 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

Richard, if someone says "present" or "abstain" wouldn't they all be recorded the same way "in a third column, to the far right or left"? Along with anyone who says, for example, "I decline to vote"?

The point being that, whatever the actual words the person uses, if the intent is clearly to abstain then they get recorded in the third column. And that there are only three columns: 1) Yes / In Favour / Support / etc

2) No / Opposed / etc

3) Present / Abstain / etc

I think you have this right.

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==My concern about this is that it presumes that these "minutes with context" are balanced or objective. I much prefer the option of having the minutes as per RONR along with a newsletter type of article that tells the stories around the meeting. For baseball fans it's analogous to the box score and the newspaper article about a game, which can include colour commentary and post-game interviews.==

That is a legitimate concern but everyone reviews them carefully and notes any such issues which are corrected and the minutes in draft are available to the entire membership for commentary (many listen to the meetings) so I think that is alleviated in our case, but each case obviously is vastly different.  

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1 hour ago, Caryn Ann Harlos said:

=="Whatever" the member answered?  Even if the member responded by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance?  I hardly think so. ==

 

Oh, I think so.  If the response is one that does not express a preference for or against the pending question, then in my view it may properly be recorded as an abstention.  Whether it is Present, or Abstain, or the Pledge of Allegiance, or a verse by Emily Dickenson, or literally "Whatever!", there is only one column where the check mark could appropriately be placed.

If I were the Secretary calling the roll, I might ask the member, one, to repeat or clarify, but if the member had a history of "protest voting without actually taking a stand, I'd just state it as Abstain, and mark it down.

 

12 hours ago, Caryn Ann Harlos said:

(and our organization has a custom of including more details in the minutes and often include things that the members request as it gives needed context for the wider membership)

Well, it's up to the assembly what to include.  RONR does not allow "explanations" to accompany voting. If you have a conflicting custom, and nobody objects, well, you'll have to live with the results.

Edited by Gary Novosielski
finish last sentence.

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

To me, this suggests that whatever the member answered should be recorded.

 

5 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

Whatever the member answered?  Even if the member responded by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance?  I hardly think so

 

53 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Oh, I think so.  If the response is one that does not express a preference for or against the pending question, then in my view it may properly be recorded as an abstention.  Whether it is Present, or Abstain, or the Pledge of Allegiance, or a verse by Emily Dickenson, or literally "Whatever!", there is only one column where the check mark could appropriately be placed. 

If I were the Secretary calling the roll, I might ask the member, one, to repeat or clarify, but if the member had a history of "protest voting without actually taking a stand, I'd just state it as Abstain, and mark it down

I would likewise probably write down the response as "abstain" (or present) or put a check mark in the "abstain" column, but that isn't what Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said should be done or what you said with "Oh, I think so".   To interpret a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance or some other improper response as an abstention or to place a check mark in a column is not the same thing as taking down the actual words spoken by the member, which is what the comment by GWCTD suggested should be done.    I also agree that "Present" is a proper response, although apparently not common in this organization. Thus the secretary's consternation as to how to handle it.  

Perhaps when GWCTD said that "whatever the  member answered should be recorded", he meant "as long as it is one of the four acceptable responses".  If so, then we are all in agreement, but I interpret his comment to mean that the member's response should be recorded regardless of how he answered. If that's what he means, then we disagree. :unsure:

 

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The secretary does not copy down the actual words spoken by the voter.  He enters check marks or numbers or Xs in the appropriate columns, or enters nothing if the member responds "Pass".  At the end of voting, he calls again the names of those who passed.

Upon completion of voting, the secretary reports to the chair the number of members responding Aye, No, and Present.  He would not recite back the Pledge of Allegiance but would increment the count of those responding Present.

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