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Louise

Nominations issues

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An organization my friend belongs to has had an interesting situation develop. Its bylaws do not permit nominations from the floor, but only three directors are planning to stand for re-election and there are no new nominations. The bylaws require that there be a minimum of five board members.

I've recommended they seek legal advice. Are there any other thoughts as to what they might do?

Louise

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When you say that the "bylaws do not permit nominations from the floor," do you mean that the bylaws explicitly forbid such nominations, or only that they are silent on that question?

If the latter, is Robert's Rules their parliamentary authority?

RONR states, " After the nominating committee has presented its report and before voting for the different offices takes place, the chair must call for further nominations from the floor" (RONR pg. 435, ll. 10-12). So if nominations are by a committee, and the bylaws do not restrict or forbid them, then they are allowed.

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Guest Who's Coming to Dinner

If the vote is by ballot, members are free to write in the name of any qualified person, nominated or not.

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33 minutes ago, Greg Goodwiller, PRP said:

When you say that the "bylaws do not permit nominations from the floor," do you mean that the bylaws explicitly forbid such nominations, or only that they are silent on that question?

If the latter, is Robert's Rules their parliamentary authority?

RONR states, " After the nominating committee has presented its report and before voting for the different offices takes place, the chair must call for further nominations from the floor" (RONR pg. 435, ll. 10-12). So if nominations are by a committee, and the bylaws do not restrict or forbid them, then they are allowed.

The bylaws state that no other nominations may be accepted (except those that have been put forward by the Nominating Committee, which includes an interview).

 

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

If the vote is by ballot, members are free to write in the name of any qualified person, nominated or not.

Ah. Page 431. Thank you. But how do people know whose name to write and whether they're qualified? Can that be discussed prior to the election?

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While "write-ins" may be legal, I assume there is some reason that nominations from the floor are not allowed (such as vetting possible nominees because the board works with children or something).

What provisions exist in the bylaws for filling vacancies on the Board?

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23 minutes ago, Greg Goodwiller, PRP said:

While "write-ins" may be legal, I assume there is some reason that nominations from the floor are not allowed (such as vetting possible nominees because the board works with children or something).

What provisions exist in the bylaws for filling vacancies on the Board?

Yes, there is vetting of possible nominations, but not because of legal risks (such as working with children).

In the case of a vacancy, the board is permitted to appoint a member to serve as a director until the next AGM.

Edited by Louise

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1 hour ago, Louise said:

The bylaws state that no other nominations may be accepted (except those that have been put forward by the Nominating Committee, which includes an interview).

 

Ah. Page 431. Thank you. But how do people know whose name to write and whether they're qualified? Can that be discussed prior to the election?

Yes, it's called old fashioned politicking.  Word of mouth.  A write-in campaign.  An email and phone call and text message campaign. Passing out flyers.  If Alaska can elect a United States  Senator (Lisa Murkowski) by means of a write in campaign, surely your organization has a good chance of pulling it off!  South Carolina also elected Strom Thurmond to the U.S. Senate by means of a write in campaign.

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Just now, Richard Brown said:

Yes, it's called old fashioned politicking.  Word of mouth.  A write-in campaign.  An email and phone call and text message campaign. Passing out flyers.  If Alaska can elect a United States  Senator (Lisa Murkowski) by means of a write in campaign, surely your organization has a good chance of pulling it off!  South Carolina also elected Strom Thurmond to the U.S. Senate by means of a write in campaign.

This is good to know. Thank you.

 

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5 minutes ago, Louise said:

This is good to know. Thank you.

 

You might go prepared with just slips of paper with the names of the "write in" candidates printed and properly spelled.  Note:  Your organization may or may not have some sort of a rule prohibiting passing out literature at a meeting, but I'm confident that with a little bit of ingenuity that obstacle... if it really exists... can be overcome.  What about outside the meeting hall, before members actually enter the meeting room? 

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1 minute ago, Richard Brown said:

You might go prepared with just slips of paper with the names of the "write in" candidates printed and properly spelled.  Note:  Your organization may or may not have some sort of a rule prohibiting passing out literature at a meeting, but I'm confident that with a little bit of ingenuity that obstacle... if it really exists... can be overcome.  What about outside the meeting hall, before members actually enter the meeting room? 

I will pass along that idea. Thank you again.

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45 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

You might go prepared with just slips of paper with the names of the "write in" candidates printed and properly spelled.  Note:  Your organization may or may not have some sort of a rule prohibiting passing out literature at a meeting, but I'm confident that with a little bit of ingenuity that obstacle... if it really exists... can be overcome.  What about outside the meeting hall, before members actually enter the meeting room? 

I certainly do not disagree with this approach. But if it is unsuccessful, it sounds as though the Board is authorized to fill the vacancies until the next membership meeting in order to be in compliance with its bylaws.

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1 hour ago, Greg Goodwiller, PRP said:

I certainly do not disagree with this approach. But if it is unsuccessful, it sounds as though the Board is authorized to fill the vacancies until the next membership meeting in order to be in compliance with its bylaws.

Okay, that's good to know also.

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4 hours ago, Louise said:

The bylaws state that no other nominations may be accepted (except those that have been put forward by the Nominating Committee, which includes an interview).

 

Ah. Page 431. Thank you. But how do people know whose name to write and whether they're qualified? Can that be discussed prior to the election?

It could be, while nominations from the floor were pending, but since you've outlawed that, any discussion would have to take place other than in a meeting.

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1 minute ago, Gary Novosielski said:

It could be, while nominations from the floor were pending, but since you've outlawed that, any discussion would have to take place other than in a meeting.

Good point.

Just now, Gary Novosielski said:

And at the first opportunity, amend the bylaws to remove that restriction.

Yes.

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3 hours ago, Greg Goodwiller, PRP said:

I certainly do not disagree with this approach. But if it is unsuccessful, it sounds as though the Board is authorized to fill the vacancies until the next membership meeting in order to be in compliance with its bylaws.

Why would this be considered a vacancy, rather than an incomplete election? I would tell the nomination committee that they have not completed the task they were assigned, namely to find five nominees.

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13 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

Why would this be considered a vacancy, rather than an incomplete election? I would tell the nomination committee that they have not completed the task they were assigned, namely to find five nominees.

I don't disagree that the committee should find more candidates and hold another meeting if/when it is possible to do so. But until they do, the Board apparently has the ability to appoint members and bring them into compliance - who serve until they are replaced by those duly elected by the assembly. 

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There have been several discussions on this forum regarding whether, when and if an incomplete election turns into a vacancy.  I am not able to research that point right now, but perhaps someone else has a mind and the time to do it.

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10 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

There have been several discussions on this forum regarding whether, when and if an incomplete election turns into a vacancy.  I am not able to research that point right now, but perhaps someone else has a mind and the time to do it.

https://robertsrules.forumflash.com/topic/19676-incomplete-elections-vs-vacancies/?tab=comments#comment-104100

But I'm not sure it's helpful since this assembly hasn't held the election yet. I'd suggest they make sure the ballot has spaces for write-ins (as it always should in an election when voting by ballot) and elect the required number of eligible members.  What happens at this election meeting will dictate what, if anything, happens next.

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1 hour ago, George Mervosh said:

But I'm not sure it's helpful since this assembly hasn't held the election yet. I'd suggest they make sure the ballot has spaces for write-ins (as it always should in an election when voting by ballot) and elect the required number of eligible members.  What happens at this election meeting will dictate what, if anything, happens next.

It seems to me that the proper interpretation of a bylaw which provides “that no other nominations may be accepted (except those that have been put forward by the Nominating Committee, which includes an interview).“ may well be that the rule prevents write-ins as well, although of course this will require a full review of the exact wording of the rule and any other relevant rules on this subject, and is ultimately a determination that only the assembly may make.

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13 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

It seems to me that the proper interpretation of a bylaw which provides “that no other nominations may be accepted (except those that have been put forward by the Nominating Committee, which includes an interview).“ may well be that the rule prevents write-ins as well, although of course this will require a full review of the exact wording of the rule and any other relevant rules on this subject, and is ultimately a determination that only the assembly may make.

I'm not at all comfortable with the idea that the technique of interpretation can be used to prohibit write-ins because my understanding is, the only way to prohibit  write-in votes is for the bylaws to explicitly say so.  I don't know if my understanding of this is correct though.

Edited by George Mervosh

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26 minutes ago, George Mervosh said:

I'm not at all comfortable with the idea that the technique of interpretation can be used to prohibit write-ins because my understanding is, the only way to prohibit  write-in votes is for the bylaws to explicitly say so.  I don't know if my understanding of this is correct though.

My understanding is the same as yours. I don't believe a bylaw provision which prohibits further nominations is sufficient for prohibiting write-in votes. 

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Add my name to that list.  Write-in votes, by definition, are votes for persons who were not nominated. Therefore, it seems to me that a rule governing nominations cannot reasonably be applied to write-ins unless an explicit provision to that effect says that it should.

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8 hours ago, George Mervosh said:

I'm not at all comfortable with the idea that the technique of interpretation can be used to prohibit write-ins because my understanding is, the only way to prohibit  write-in votes is for the bylaws to explicitly say so.  I don't know if my understanding of this is correct though.

Agreed.  A nomination is much different than an election; unless the bylaws state otherwise, a nomination may not be prerequisite for election to an office.  It is even possible for the bylaws to prohibit someone from being nominated, but still be eligible to be elected.  I would also note that the rule, "Nominations from the floor shall not be permitted," is a rule in the nature of a rule of order and could be suspended.

That said, the could be some type of "screening" needed for someone to hold office.   The example given by Mr. Goodwiller would be one such rule.  In that case, only those people that have been screened would be eligible to be elected.  That could not be suspended. 

 

Edited by J. J.

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