Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums
Guest Alexine Fleck

can someone make a motion to reverse an assumption in a previous motion?

Recommended Posts

Guest Alexine Fleck

We recently made a motion to have a voice vote in a special meeting. We made, debated, and voted on motions based on the voice vote plan, but did not bring a motion to have a voice vote. The other motions were based on an unspoken acceptance of the voice vote. Now, there's a question about whether someone can make a motion not to have a voice vote in favor of a secret ballot. Is a motion like that in order? Or does the acceptance of the voice vote in subsequent motions enough to say that the group accepted without protest the voice vote? Additionally, can a member who was not present at the time the members decided on how and where the voice vote would be conducted bring that motion to change the voice vote to a secret ballot?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, a motion to hold a vote by ballot is in order and made be made up until the time that voting actually begins. It doesn't matter what method of voting you have used on previous motions, unless a specific method of voting is specified in your bylaws or by a special rule of order. What is not in order, most likely, is a motion to hold a voice vote, since that is the default method of voting as defined in RONR. If your bylaws specify a particular method of voting (most often that would be by ballot) then a motion to vote by another method would not be in order.

I think that if the assembly voted to hold a voice vote on a particular question - regardless of the validity of such a motion - and that question had not yet be voted on, then a motion to vote by ballot may not be in order unless 1) the motion to hold a voice vote is reconsidered, or 2) the motion to hold a ballot vote is adopted by a 2/3 vote. If a member was not present when the voice vote motion was adopted, he could move to vote by ballot, but it would have to be adopted by a 2/3/ vote.

Edited to add: Under 2) above, the motion could also be adopted by an affirmative vote of a majority of the entire membership.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Guest Alexine Fleck said:

We recently made a motion to have a voice vote in a special meeting. We made, debated, and voted on motions based on the voice vote plan, but did not bring a motion to have a voice vote. The other motions were based on an unspoken acceptance of the voice vote. Now, there's a question about whether someone can make a motion not to have a voice vote in favor of a secret ballot. Is a motion like that in order? Or does the acceptance of the voice vote in subsequent motions enough to say that the group accepted without protest the voice vote? Additionally, can a member who was not present at the time the members decided on how and where the voice vote would be conducted bring that motion to change the voice vote to a secret ballot? <emphasis added>

If I understand you, someone moved to use voice votes (we don't know if it was seconded) but that motion was never actually

adopted.  Since voice votes are the default, there was no point in making this motion, and it could have been ruled out of order, but apparently was not; it was just dropped without action.

Then you went ahead and adopted a number of motions by voice vote.  If nobody had an "unspoken acceptance" that voice votes were in order, what method would you ordinarily use?  Again, I point out that voice votes are the norm, so there would need to be some rule, either in the bylaws or as a special rule of order, requiring some other type of voting.  Is there?

RONR says "In practice, the method of taking a vote usually can be agreed upon informally."  To me, this sounds like what you did.  If that's the case, a motion, or suggestion, to take the next motion by another means can be adopted by a majority vote.

Another passage that may be relevant is: "If the method of voting on a motion is ordered by the assembly (and not prescribed by the assembly’s rules), such an order is exhausted (1) when the question on which it was imposed has been finally disposed of, or (2) at the conclusion of the session in which the order has been adopted—whichever occurs first."   In other words it normally applies only to one motion.  But again, this appears to hing on whether this method is "prescribed by the assembly's rules, so I think we need an answer to that.  And it's not perfectly clear what happens if the method is prescribed by the assembly's rules

But based on what you've said so far, I don't see any compelling evidence that a subsequent motion to take the next vote by ballot would require anything more than a majority vote. 

Stay tuned for other opinions.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Zev

I was under the impression that the original motion was something like, "today, all votes will be voice votes." Hopefully we will find out if this is what they did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

I was under the impression that the original motion was something like, "today, all votes will be voice votes." Hopefully we will find out if this is what they did.

That seems likely, but it was apparently discussed briefly but never adopted.  That sounds like it was "agreed upon informally"

Furthermore, as relates to exhaustion of the motion, the way I read it that if, say, voice voting is the normal method prescribed by the rules, then a motion ordering it has no effect, and the rule concerning the time of exhaustion is not applicable.  The rule says it applies to a method of voting that is ordered and not prescribed by the assembly's rules.  So that if it is ordered but is prescribed by the assembly's rules, the exhaustion rule does not apply, and, presumably, the properties of the normal rule do, namely that it can be overridden at will by a motion regarding the method of voting, adopted by majority vote.

In other words, the purpose of the language seems to be to prevent the existing default rule from being redundantly moved.  If that's not the case, then I wonder why that condition was included in the language.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

That seems likely, but it was apparently discussed briefly but never adopted.  That sounds like it was "agreed upon informally"

Furthermore, as relates to exhaustion of the motion, the way I read it that if, say, voice voting is the normal method prescribed by the rules, then a motion ordering it has no effect, and the rule concerning the time of exhaustion is not applicable.  The rule says it applies to a method of voting that is ordered and not prescribed by the assembly's rules.  So that if it is ordered but is prescribed by the assembly's rules, the exhaustion rule does not apply, and, presumably, the properties of the normal rule do, namely that it can be overridden at will by a motion regarding the method of voting, adopted by majority vote.

In other words, the purpose of the language seems to be to prevent the existing default rule from being redundantly moved.  If that's not the case, then I wonder why that condition was included in the language.

The incidental Motion Relating to Methods of Voting and the Polls would indeed not be relevant here. “The object of these motions is to obtain a vote on a question in some form other than by voice, by show of hands, or by Division (rising); or to close or reopen the polls.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 283) Additionally, the exhaustion rule notes that it is exhausted “(1) when the question on which it was imposed has been finally disposed of, or (2) at the conclusion of the session in which the order has been adopted—whichever occurs first.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 285) In other words, the purpose of this motion is to change the method of voting for a particular motion, not for all motions.

On 3/15/2019 at 10:32 AM, Guest Alexine Fleck said:

We recently made a motion to have a voice vote in a special meeting. We made, debated, and voted on motions based on the voice vote plan, but did not bring a motion to have a voice vote. The other motions were based on an unspoken acceptance of the voice vote. Now, there's a question about whether someone can make a motion not to have a voice vote in favor of a secret ballot. Is a motion like that in order? Or does the acceptance of the voice vote in subsequent motions enough to say that the group accepted without protest the voice vote? Additionally, can a member who was not present at the time the members decided on how and where the voice vote would be conducted bring that motion to change the voice vote to a secret ballot?

I concur with those who say that the assembly accomplished nothing by informally agreeing to voting by voice on motions, since this is already the default method of voting in RONR, and the text itself notes that “In practice, the method of taking a vote usually can be agreed upon informally.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 284) There is no suggestion that such an agreement at the outset of a meeting prevents the making of a Motion Relating to Methods of Voting and the Polls at a later time. The fact that members accepted voting by voice on other motions does not prevent members from suggesting that the assembly vote by ballot on a particular motion, and the fact that the member was not present at the time of the informal agreement is irrelevant.

So yes, a motion to vote by ballot is in order. It requires a majority vote for adoption. If the assembly does not wish to take a ballot vote, members may vote against the motion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Josh Martin said:

In other words, the purpose of this motion is to change the method of voting for a particular motion, not for all motions.

Why couldn't this motion be worded to apply "for all votes at this meeting"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

Why couldn't this motion be worded to apply "for all votes at this meeting"?

Such a motion could be made, but it would no longer be an incidental motion. Instead, it would be an incidental main motion, and would therefore have the SDCs for a main motion, not for the incidental Motion Relating to Methods of Voting and the Polls.

”Incidental motions relate, in different ways, to the pending business or to business otherwise at hand—some of them with varying
degrees of resemblance to subsidiary motions, but none of them possessing all five of the characteristics listed on pages 64–65. As a class, incidental motions deal with questions of procedure arising out of: (1) commonly, another pending motion; but also (2) sometimes, another motion or item of business 
a) that it is desired to introduce, 
b) that has been made but has not yet been stated by the chair, or 
c) that has just been pending.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 69)

Additionally, as has already been noted, the text specifically states that the motion is used for voting by “some form other than by voice, by show of hands, or by Division (rising); or to close or reopen the polls.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 283) There is no purpose to specifying a voice vote, since this is already how votes are taken.

If the assembly wishes to use voice votes for all votes at a meeting, to the extent that it wishes to prevent the making of a motion for a ballot vote, this would require adopting a special rule of order or a rule of order for a meeting - although since such rules may be suspended, the assembly still could take a ballot vote later if it wished to, but it would require a 2/3 vote.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/15/2019 at 11:32 AM, Guest Alexine Fleck said:

We recently made a motion to have a voice vote in a special meeting. We made, debated, and voted on motions based on the voice vote plan, but did not bring a motion to have a voice vote. The other motions were based on an unspoken acceptance of the voice vote. Now, there's a question about whether someone can make a motion not to have a voice vote in favor of a secret ballot. Is a motion like that in order? Or does the acceptance of the voice vote in subsequent motions enough to say that the group accepted without protest the voice vote? Additionally, can a member who was not present at the time the members decided on how and where the voice vote would be conducted bring that motion to change the voice vote to a secret ballot?

This description of what happened is so vague that I don't think any of the replies given so far actually addressed the situation. If I'm reading this correctly, the assembly was planning the manner in which a vote will be taken at some special meeting in the future, not at the present meeting. It's unclear what type of "other motions" there were "based on the voice vote plan".

Until the OP tells us more specifically what happened, I don't think we can be of great help, but I would note that it is improper for the assembly at one session to adopt procedures (or a "plan") that will apply to a future session, other than by the adoption of special rules of order.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...