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Advanced Quorum Question

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Guest weo

My organization is considering a matter that is addressed by a standing rule. The standing rule specifies that when we vote on this particular matter, a quorum of 20% of the total membership is required to be present. Our organization's bylaws specify that a lower number, only 5% of the membership, must be present for us to conduct business. I understand that to amend or repeal the standing rule, advanced notice and a two-thirds majority vote are required; I am wondering if it is possible to make a motion from the floor to suspend the rule and allow the matter to be considered with less than 20% of the membership present, without advanced notice.

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If this is truly a standing rule, it seems to me to contradict the rule in your bylaws that quorum is 5% of membership, and thus to be inapplicable in any event, suspended or no. Others may disagree, so stay tuned. That said, again if it truly is a standing rule, that is not the requirement for amendment: instead, it's a 2/3 vote OR a majority vote with notice. But, setting that aside and assuming your rule is valid, it seems to me that it is a rule meant to protect absentees and may not be suspended. 

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Guest weo

Ah you're right -- I double checked and apparently this is a Special Rule of Order, not a Standing Rule. My mistake. Still, I don't think it changes your answer, that the rule cannot be suspended since it protects absentees.

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Even as a special rule of order, it still yields to the rule in your bylaws. Any exception to your 5% quorum requirement calling for a higher quorum number for certain items of business would have to be in your bylaws as well.

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48 minutes ago, Guest weo said:

Ah you're right -- I double checked and apparently this is a Special Rule of Order, not a Standing Rule. My mistake. Still, I don't think it changes your answer, that the rule cannot be suspended since it protects absentees.

Well, that answers the amendment part - but special rules of order still lose to bylaws (when they're in a fight, that is). So I still think your rule is inoperative.

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Guest Zev
2 hours ago, Guest weo said:

...this particular matter...

I do not know what this particular matter is and worry that if the subject has anything thing to do with quorum or bylaws then any large growth of the society may cause a Parliamentary Law Question Number 107 (page 452) situation. My suggestion is to change the percentages into flat numbers that can be expected to be present under normal circumstances. (Question 107 concerned a society that required a three-fourths vote of the entire membership in order to change the bylaws and a growth over the years made is all but impossible to hold a meeting with that number of members present.)

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I agree with the responses by Joshua Katz and Bruce Lages as to which quorum requirement controls. I think the bylaw quorum requirement of 5% of the membership controls.

As to the question 107 matter in Parliamentary Law raised by guest Zev, something with which i am very familiar, I do not see that as an issue here nor do I see it becoming one. The organization can, of course , amend its bylaws to require a fixed number of members for a quorum rather than a percentage of members, but unless that number is relatively low, that can present its own question 107 problem if the organizatonn starts losing members, something that happens pretty often. I See nothing wrong with a percentage of membership quorum requirement as long as the organization has an accurate membership roster and can easily determine the number of members necessary for a quorum. Some organizations use both a fixed number and a percentage, such as, "20 percent of the membership or 10 members, whichever is less". 

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12 hours ago, Guest weo said:

My organization is considering a matter that is addressed by a standing rule. The standing rule specifies that when we vote on this particular matter, a quorum of 20% of the total membership is required to be present. Our organization's bylaws specify that a lower number, only 5% of the membership, must be present for us to conduct business. I understand that to amend or repeal the standing rule, advanced notice and a two-thirds majority vote are required; I am wondering if it is possible to make a motion from the floor to suspend the rule and allow the matter to be considered with less than 20% of the membership present, without advanced notice.

It seems to me that the rule in question is in the nature of a special rule of order, and more importantly, the rule is not valid since it conflicts with the bylaws. Therefore, there is no need to suspend it.

If the rule in question had been properly adopted (such as by including it in the bylaws), it could not be suspended, since it is a rule which protects absentees.

Edited by Josh Martin

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23 hours ago, Guest weo said:

The standing rule specifies that when we vote on this particular matter, a quorum of 20% of the total membership is required to be present.

 

23 hours ago, Guest weo said:

I understand that to amend or repeal the standing rule, advanced notice and a two-thirds majority vote are required

 

23 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

if it truly is a standing rule, that is not the requirement for amendment: instead, it's a 2/3 vote OR a majority vote with notice

 

22 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

Ah you're right -- I double checked and apparently this is a Special Rule of Order, not a Standing Rule.

The rule in question is clearly a special rule of order, no matter what the organization calls it.

"Whatever names an assembly may apply to its various rules, the vote required to adopt, amend, or suspend a particular rule is determined by the nature of its content according to the definitions given above." [RONR (11th ed.), p. 18]

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