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EBWB21

Nominating Committee

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Our organization has a nominating committee comprised of 21 members.  If three or more candidates are being considered for a single position would plurality vote be in order where the individual with the most votes receives the nomination?  Or, if the ballots cast do not provide for one of the candidates to receive a majority of the votes (11), would the committee have to continue balloting until a majority is reached?  Our bylaws do not address this.

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1 hour ago, EBWB21 said:

Our organization has a nominating committee comprised of 21 members.  If three or more candidates are being considered for a single position would plurality vote be in order where the individual with the most votes receives the nomination?

No, not according to the rules in RONR.  Any such rule would have to be adopted by your organization as a special rule of order and would have to be in the bylaws if it is to apply to the election of officers.

1 hour ago, EBWB21 said:

Or, if the ballots cast do not provide for one of the candidates to receive a majority of the votes (11), would the committee have to continue balloting until a majority is reached?  Our bylaws do not address this.

Yes, but you could adopt a motion by majority vote  by suspending the rules or adopting a special rule of order that the candidate with the fewest votes be removed from the ballot for succeeding rounds of voting, but that candidate(s) would still remain eligible  to be elected via write-in votes.  To actually make him ineligible would have to be by virtue of a provision in your bylaws. 

Edited to also add:  See the footnote on page 441 which reads as follows:  "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.) "

Edited by Richard Brown
Changes as indicated by strikethrough and underlining and added last paragraph

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I'm trying to make a correction to my post above but the system isn't letting me do  it.  It requires a suspension of the rules or the adoption of a special rule of order to drop the candidate with the fewest votes from subsequent ballots.   See the footnote on page 441

The system finally let me make  the edits.  I had to log out and back in and that seemed to fix the problem.

Edited by Richard Brown
Edited as indicated by strikethrough and underline

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12 minutes ago, George Mervosh said:

Remind me why the rules cannot be suspended to permit a plurality vote in this case?  (not rhetorical)

By virtue of this language at the bottom of page 404 and top of 405:

A plurality vote is the largest number of votes to be given any candidate or proposition when three or more choices are [page 405] possible; the candidate or proposition receiving the largest number of votes has a plurality. A plurality that is not a majority never chooses a proposition or elects anyone to office except by virtue of a special rule previously adopted. If such a rule is to apply to the election of officers, it must be prescribed in the bylaws.

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On page 405, we are told that:

"A plurality that is not a majority never chooses a proposition or elects anyone to office except by virtue of a special rule previously adopted. If such a rule is to apply to the election of officers, it must be prescribed in the bylaws."

When the bylaws prescribe that RONR is the parliamentary authority (using RONR's suggested language), the above quoted rules are effectively incorporated by reference into the bylaws, and so the footnote on page 16 correctly tells us that no special rule of order can validly be adopted providing for election of officers by plurality vote.

This, however, does not mean that the rule that a plurality vote that is not a majority never elects anyone to office is a rule which cannot be suspended. It does not make a rule requiring a majority vote for election to office a rule which cannot be suspended. These are not fundamental principles of parliamentary law.

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2 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

No, not according to the rules in RONR.  Any such rule would have to be adopted by your organization as a special rule of order and would have to be in the bylaws if it is to apply to the election of officers.

Yes, but you could adopt a motion by majority vote  by suspending the rules or adopting a special rule of order that the candidate with the fewest votes be removed from the ballot for succeeding rounds of voting, but that candidate(s) would still remain eligible  to be elected via write-in votes.  To actually make him ineligible would have to be by virtue of a provision in your bylaws. 

Edited to also add:  See the footnote on page 441 which reads as follows:  "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.) "

The original question is not actually about electing officers - it is about the nominating committee selecting its nominees for each office. I do not think the rules for the actual election of officers by the society apply to the process of the nominating committee selecting nominees.

The controlling rule in this case seems to be the rule that a committee’s report may only contain what is agreed to by the committee by majority vote, but it seems to me that the processes the committee uses to reach that point are at the committee’s discretion. So the committee could, if it wishes to do so, take a vote on the members’ first preference for each office, and then vote on a draft report which includes the persons who each received a plurality vote. If that is adopted by a majority vote, it is then the report of the committee.

Edited by Josh Martin

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To clarify - we are trying to establish the best practice for the nominating committee only.  These individuals are the ones who meet to determine a potential slate; however, the potential slate is only recommended and not final.  

In terms of the nominating committee, would it be acceptable to use the plurality vote process to determine the presented slate, where each member of the committee would vote,  and the candidate with the lowest number of votes would be eliminated?  The committee would then continue to vote until one candidate had the absolute plurality.   

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3 hours ago, EBWB21 said:

To clarify - we are trying to establish the best practice for the nominating committee only.  These individuals are the ones who meet to determine a potential slate; however, the potential slate is only recommended and not final.  

In terms of the nominating committee, would it be acceptable to use the plurality vote process to determine the presented slate, where each member of the committee would vote,  and the candidate with the lowest number of votes would be eliminated?  The committee would then continue to vote until one candidate had the absolute plurality.   

I assume what is meant is that the committee would continue in this manner until a candidate has a majority, which is more than half. A “plurality” simply means that a candidate has more votes than any other candidate, which could very easily occur on the first round. I don’t know what an “absolute plurality” is.

Terminology issues aside, I see no reason why the committee cannot use the process described, if it wishes to do so.

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On 4/15/2019 at 10:47 AM, EBWB21 said:

To clarify - we are trying to establish the best practice for the nominating committee only.  These individuals are the ones who meet to determine a potential slate; however, the potential slate is only recommended and not final.  

In terms of the nominating committee, would it be acceptable to use the plurality vote process to determine the presented slate, where each member of the committee would vote,  and the candidate with the lowest number of votes would be eliminated?  The committee would then continue to vote until one candidate had the absolute plurality.   

Best practice would include avoiding the use of the term "slate".  Instead, the report of the nominating committee is a "list" of nominees-typically one for each office to be filled, but not always.  This list could be added to by nominations from the floor, which the chair must call for after the report of the nominating committee has been given.

As long as a majority of the committee agrees with its final report, I don't see any reason why the committee can't choose whatever methods it likes to score the names under consideration, unless it has been specifically instructed otherwise.

Edited by Gary Novosielski

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