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6 minutes ago, Guest Janice said:

We took a recorded vote at a board meeting and one of the members stated that the Chair must vote.  Is this true?  I thought the Chair is only required to vote to break a tie. Where can I find information on this?

In addition to Dr. Stackpole's post, there's another part of the bolded quote you have wrong.  See http://www.robertsrules.com/faq.html#1

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Though I cannot quite understand why it would be important to use a roll call method of voting in the meeting of an executive board, nevertheless, in a small board, the chairman votes right along with the other members when the secretary calls his name. The secretary can call the chairman's name in its proper alphabetical place in the roll.

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And, to clear up a few things - no one is obligated to vote in a roll call. Everyone is free to abstain. Nor is a chair, in a large assembly, ever required to vote. Also, it is appropriate, in a large assembly, for the chair to vote whenever it would decide the outcome, not only to 'break a tie.' Note that ties do not need breaking - a tie vote means the motion is not adopted.

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39 minutes ago, jstackpo said:

The chair's obligation is to remain impartial right up to the point when a vote is taken; then he may vote, or not, as he pleases, presuming he/she is a member of the association. Page 448ff.

Yes, I do agree.  But is he required to vote when the vote is being recorded.  Our by-laws require the secretary to read off the names alphabetically with the Chair going last. 

If he doesn't vote, is this considered an abstention? 

Also, could you please give me the exact quote from page 448ff.  I am new to this forum and I'm not sure where to find that.  Thank you!

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Oh! You would look things up in that copy of RONR that you purchased. It's the book you keep with you all day long. It's the book that lies on your bedside table in the evening for a quick read before going to sleep. It should be the book that you take with you when you go backpacking in the Andes.

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22 minutes ago, Guest Janice said:

Also, could you please give me the exact quote from page 448ff.

I think Dr. Stackpole is referring to pgs. 448-457, which describes the duties of the chair in their entirety. That’s a bit much to quote here, but good to refer to when you pick up your own copy of RONR.

Some more direct citations to your questions would be the following:

“If the presiding officer is a member of the assembly, he can vote as any other member when the vote is by ballot (see also p. 414, ll. 25–28). In all other cases the presiding officer, if a member of the assembly, can (but is not obliged to) vote whenever his vote will affect the result—that is, he can vote either to break or to cause a tie; or, in a case where a two-thirds vote is required, he can vote either to cause or to block the attainment of the necessary two thirds.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 405)

“In a board meeting where there are not more than about a dozen members present, some of the formality that is necessary in a large assembly would hinder business. The rules governing such meetings are different from the rules that hold in other assemblies, in the following respects:

...

If the chairman is a member, he may, without leaving the chair, speak in informal discussions and in debate, and vote on all questions.” (RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 487-488)

“Although it is the duty of every member who has an opinion on a question to express it by his vote, he can abstain, since he cannot be compelled to vote.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 407)

“To "abstain" means not to vote at all, and a member who makes no response if "abstentions" are called for abstains just as much as one who responds to that effect (see also p. 407).” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 45)

Edited by Josh Martin
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1 hour ago, Joshua Katz said:

No.

Yes. To abstain just means not to vote.

In our by-laws it states "If any Member abstains from voting, they shall be deemed to be a negative vote."

When we have normal (hands up) votes, the Chair doesn't necessarily always vote but it isn't counted as an abstention.  When we have a recorded roll call vote, his name is called at the end (per our by-laws).  Last night this type of vote was requested and he wasn't going to vote but a member told him he had to.  As the secretary, I would like to know for sure if she was right. 

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Well, Janice, requiring an abstention to be counted as a negative vote is undemocratic, to say the least, since it is well established that no member is compelled to vote, and the failure of a voter to express his judgment on a matter cannot possibly be equated with his judgment opposing the matter.

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10 minutes ago, Guest Janice said:

In our by-laws it states "If any Member abstains from voting, they shall be deemed to be a negative vote."

 

Well, then you have a bylaw interpretation issue, which only your organization can do. This is quite a strange bylaw, though, but if that's what it says, that's what it says.

10 minutes ago, Guest Janice said:

When we have normal (hands up) votes, the Chair doesn't necessarily always vote but it isn't counted as an abstention. 

I can't see why not. To abstain is to not vote (and, in your organization, apparently, to therefore be counted as if you had voted in the negative - which is interesting because, among things, it means that if the chair abstains on an appeal, he is counted as having voted against his own ruling being sustained). In any case, when anyone with the right to vote - which the chair has, but does not normally exercise in a large assembly - does not vote, he has abstained. What to do with that in light of your bylaw is another matter.

10 minutes ago, Guest Janice said:

When we have a recorded roll call vote, his name is called at the end (per our by-laws).  Last night this type of vote was requested and he wasn't going to vote but a member told him he had to.  As the secretary, I would like to know for sure if she was right. 

Well, strictly as secretary, it doesn't matter (as a member, it might well matter to you, but it doesn't impact the minutes). What the member told the chair is discussion, not action, and does not go in the minutes. The minutes should reflect that the chair voted, or didn't, depending on which happened, not what should have happened.

It seems to me that, as a practical matter, your bylaws require not only the chair, but everyone, to vote, and if someone chooses not to, the bylaws assign that person a vote anyway. So, in practice, it would seem that yes, the chair (if a member) must vote, and everyone else must vote also - or be counted as voting, anyway. 

Nonetheless, I'm of the opinion that, on a roll call vote, the minutes should probably reflect whether a member voted no or abstained, while noting that abstentions were counted as negative votes in the final tally.

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4 minutes ago, reelsman said:

Well, Janice, requiring an abstention to be counted as a negative vote is undemocratic, to say the least, since it is well established that no member is compelled to vote, and the failure of a voter to express his judgment on a matter cannot possibly be equated with his judgment opposing the matter.

I agree, but there's nothing keeping the bylaws from being undemocratic, so far as I know.

As an aside, of course this pops up when I took the risk of answering without saying "unless your own rules say otherwise" because it didn't occur to me that there would be bylaws requiring people to vote.

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2 hours ago, Guest Janice said:

In our by-laws it states "If any Member abstains from voting, they shall be deemed to be a negative vote."

I recommend amending the bylaws to remove this rule as soon as possible. In the interim, it appears that when any member (including the chair) abstains from voting, it shall be deemed a negative vote.

If the organization’s bylaws also have rules concerning the chair voting, I suppose that may complicate matters.

2 hours ago, Guest Janice said:

When we have normal (hands up) votes, the Chair doesn't necessarily always vote but it isn't counted as an abstention. 

As previously noted, at least so far as RONR is concerned, this is not correct. To abstain from voting, by definition, is to not vote. Therefore, a member who does not vote has abstained.

2 hours ago, Guest Janice said:

When we have a recorded roll call vote, his name is called at the end (per our by-laws).  Last night this type of vote was requested and he wasn't going to vote but a member told him he had to.  As the secretary, I would like to know for sure if she was right. 

No, the member was not correct. As noted above, no member is ever compelled to vote.

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Assuming that a member needs to be present at the time when a vote is taken in order to abstain (which I believe to be the case), it would appear that these bylaws require the vote of a majority (or two-thirds, or whatever) of the members present for adoption of motions. Not exactly unheard of. 

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I concur with your opinion on the requirement to be present to abstain. All the dictionary definitions of "abstain" that I found use verbs that connote an act of the will: "decline", "refrain", "choose", "hold oneself back", etc. This action of the will seems impossible for absent members who likely do not know what questions are being put. Therefore, I find your opinion to be the most reasonable one.

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16 hours ago, reelsman said:

Though I cannot quite understand why it would be important to use a roll call method of voting in the meeting of an executive board, 

I received this sage advice from an elder statesman of a board.  Whenever a proposed action might conflict with the board's  fiduciary responsibility, a roll call vote is in order. That provides a written record for members opposed to the action to use when an adopted action results in liability.

Although legal aspects are not addressed in this forum, this correlation seems germane. 

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3 hours ago, Byron Baxter said:

I received this sage advice from an elder statesman of a board.  Whenever a proposed action might conflict with the board's  fiduciary responsibility, a roll call vote is in order. That provides a written record for members opposed to the action to use when an adopted action results in liability.

Although legal aspects are not addressed in this forum, this correlation seems germane. 

Alternately, perhaps the board in question is in the nature of a representative body.

“Taking a vote by roll call (or by yeas and nays, as it is also called) has the effect of placing on the record how each member or, sometimes each delegation, votes; therefore, it has exactly the opposite effect of a ballot vote. It is usually confined to representative bodies, where the proceedings are published, since it enables constituents to know how their representatives voted on certain measures. It should not be used in a mass meeting or in any assembly whose members are not responsible to a constituency.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 420)

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On 5/8/2019 at 2:11 PM, Guest Janice said:

Yes, I do agree.  But is he required to vote when the vote is being recorded.  Our by-laws require the secretary to read off the names alphabetically with the Chair going last. 

If he doesn't vote, is this considered an abstention? 

Also, could you please give me the exact quote from page 448ff.  I am new to this forum and I'm not sure where to find that.  Thank you!

Nobody is ever required to vote.  The right to abstain applies to everyone, including the chair.  Yes, if he abstains from voting, that would, of course, be an abstention.   

In large bodies, the chair is discouraged from voting (except when the vote is by ballot or when that single vote could change the outcome) in order to maintain the appearance of impartiality.  Under small board rules, the chair votes normally.

The idea that the chair votes to "break" ties is a common misconception.  Even in large bodies, a chair who opposed the pending motion might vote to create a tie and defeat a motion that would otherwise pass, or could abstain when a tie vote occurred, allowing the motion to fail.  Ties do not require "breaking"; since a tie is less than a majority, the motion simply fails.

 

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On 5/8/2019 at 3:45 PM, Guest Janice said:

In our by-laws it states "If any Member abstains from voting, they shall be deemed to be a negative vote."

When we have normal (hands up) votes, the Chair doesn't necessarily always vote but it isn't counted as an abstention.  When we have a recorded roll call vote, his name is called at the end (per our by-laws).  Last night this type of vote was requested and he wasn't going to vote but a member told him he had to.  As the secretary, I would like to know for sure if she was right. 

If that is the bylaw, then, as Mr. Honemann, it would require the vote of a majority of the members present to adopt something.  The president may vote when it effects the result.

Assume that there are 18 members present, including the president.  9 members vote "yes." 3 votes "no."  The president may vote because it would effect the result; a majority of members present is 10.  If the president votes yes, the motion will have 10 voted and be adopted.  If he votes no, or abstains, the motion does not get votes and is defeated.  Neither the president nor any member can be compelled to vote (p. 407, ll, 12-15).

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9 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Nobody is ever required to vote.  The right to abstain applies to everyone, including the chair.  Yes, if he abstains from voting, that would, of course, be an abstention.   

Gary, go back and reread the entire thread, paying particular attention to the exact wording of the bylaw provision. It seems to say very clearly that an abstention shall count as a negative vote.

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4 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

Gary, go back and reread the entire thread, paying particular attention to the exact wording of the bylaw provision. It seems to say very clearly that an abstention shall count as a negative vote.

Okay.  If the chair or anyone else should abstain, then that would count as a negative vote, but that doesn't mean people can't abstain, it just means their non-vote will be inexplicably counted as a No vote.  It's a pretty serious violation of membership rights, but if it's in the bylaws, then it is what it is.

This would be somewhat incompatible with the idea that an impartial chair need not vote, but I would say the chair still has the right to abstain, knowing that it would count as a No.  This might require some more strategic figuring than usual on the chair's part.

 

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