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Byron Baxter

Dilatory Ballot Motion

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A main motion was made during New Business. It was neither controversial or contentious.  After debate a member moved for a ballot vote. The assembly groaned with displeasure and the member held up his cell phone declaring that he can demand a ballot vote.  "It says so right here on wikipedia!" The presiding officer ruled the motion dilatory and not in order.

Did the presiding officer have the authority to rule the motion not in order or should the motion have been decided by majority vote of the assembly?

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So long as the motion to vote by ballot was seconded, the chair is responsible to put the question to the assembly. It is not out of order to move to vote by ballot. The member, though, should purchase a copy of RONR instead of relying on wikipedia.

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Emphasizing the first sentence in the response by by Mr. Katz, a motion for a ballot vote is a motion and requires a second and a majority vote in order to be adopted. No single member has the right to demand a ballot vote. If there was a second to the motion, the chair should have put it to a vote. It is a non-debatable motion. However, if there was no second, the chair should have responded that the motion dies for lack of a second and moved on. As Mr. Huynh pointed out, anyone who was unhappy with the ruling of the chair could have appealed the ruling to the assembly, but the appeal would have required a second.

I also agree that the member should get a copy of RONR or RONR in Brief rather than relying on Wikipedia for questions of parliamentary procedure.

Edited by Richard Brown
Typographical corrections caused by typing on a cell phone

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2 hours ago, Byron Baxter said:

The assembly groaned with displeasure and the member held up his cell phone declaring that he can demand a ballot vote.  "It says so right here on wikipedia!" 

The member was mistaken that he could demand a ballot vote, and Wikipedia is not a reliable source on parliamentary law. The member could, however, move that a ballot vote be taken, and a majority vote would be required for adoption.

2 hours ago, Byron Baxter said:

Did the presiding officer have the authority to rule the motion not in order or should the motion have been decided by majority vote of the assembly?

The presiding officer has the authority to rule motions out of order, but I do not think he should have done so in this instance, at least based on the facts provided. The chair should have taken a vote on the motion for a ballot vote (assuming, of course, that the motion received a second).

”A motion is dilatory if it seeks to obstruct or thwart the will of the assembly as clearly indicated by the existing parliamentary situation.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 342)

”Whenever the chair becomes convinced that one or more members are repeatedly using parliamentary forms for dilatory purposes, he should either not recognize these members or he should rule that such motions are out of order—but he should never adopt such a course merely to speed up business, and he should never permit his personal feelings to affect his judgment in such cases. If the chair only suspects that a motion is not made in good faith, he should give the maker of the motion the benefit of the doubt. The chair should always be courteous and fair, but at the same time he should be firm in protecting the assembly from imposition.” (RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 342-343)

Edited by Josh Martin

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8 hours ago, Byron Baxter said:

Did the presiding officer have the authority to rule the motion not in order or should the motion have been decided by majority vote of the assembly?

1

Both:

  • The chair has the authority to rule whether a motion is in order; however,
  • If members believe the chair ruled incorrectly, they may put the ruling to a majority vote if two members (a mover and a seconder) Appeal from the decision of the chair.  See RONR §24.

So, yes, it is possible to second-guess the decision of the chair, but members must be prepared to act on it at the time.

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