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Voting Viva Voce


Guest Kristi
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Our bylaws state the following:  Candidates aspiring to an elective office shall be requested to rise and state their name. If only one (1) person is aspiring to an office, the vote may be viva
voice. If more than one (1) person aspires to an office, there shall be a ballot.   

The question that has been asked is: When (per bylaws) can a written ballot be requested?   Must it be before or after someone declares their interest?  How would you know to request a ballot beforehand?  Must it be called for election for each office?  

Thanks in advance for any help or advise you can give.

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Yes, it's mandatory if >1 person aspires. But the word "may" in the bylaws means it could also be done if there's 0 or 1 aspirants. The details of how to do so are up to the assembly ("They're your bylaws, you figure them out.")

I don't see any restriction on whether the motion for a ballot can be made before or after someone declares their interest.

If before, the sentiment would be that you want a ballot vote no matter how many aspirants there are.

You don't need to have a separate motion for each election. You could do a motion saying that all elections would be by ballot. 

You may find Section 30, Motions Relating to Methods of Voting and the Polls, helpful. It's on pages 283-286

 

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By the way, RONR usually states that if you only have one nominee for a position, then the chair, if a ballot vote is not mandatory, declares the nominee elected by acclamation. It avoids the situation that you may get into, where the only nominee is defeated on a viva voce vote. And, if you do have a ballot, it should not be Yes / No for the same reason.

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Thank you for the responses.  So if only one stands for a position, bylaws state that the vote may be by viva voce.  However, what if someone then calls for a paper ballot.  Since only one has aspired, does the body need to vote to allow for a ballot since bylaws state "If only one (1) person is aspiring to an office, the vote may be viva voice."  We had this issue last year at our annual officer election.  Only one person stood, someone didn't want to vote for them but wanted to vote for someone who did not aspire, so called for a paper ballot.  Our then Parliamentarian said that since only one person had stood for the position, the body needed to suspend the rules for the vote to be done by ballot.   The vote  to suspend failed and the vote was done by viva voce.  I am not trying to cause future problems, just trying to understand.

Thanks!

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The bylaws say that the vote may be by viva voce.  May, not shall.  A voice vote is permissible but not required. Therefore, no suspension of the rules is necessary to move for a ballot vote.  A motion that the election be held by ballot would require a second and a majority vote.

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I am an opponent of viva voce elections for the reason that on occasion the result does not properly reflect the true will of the assembly. Some voters have a desire not to create any friction or injure the feelings of candidates and thereby avoid nominating their preferred candidate. Interpersonal relationships can sometimes be the most important consideration to a person especially in tightknit communities. This type of problem is avoided if all elections are conducted by ballot.

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10 hours ago, Guest Kristi said:

Thank you for the responses.  So if only one stands for a position, bylaws state that the vote may be by viva voce.  However, what if someone then calls for a paper ballot.  Since only one has aspired, does the body need to vote to allow for a ballot since bylaws state "If only one (1) person is aspiring to an office, the vote may be viva voice."  We had this issue last year at our annual officer election.  Only one person stood, someone didn't want to vote for them but wanted to vote for someone who did not aspire, so called for a paper ballot.  Our then Parliamentarian said that since only one person had stood for the position, the body needed to suspend the rules for the vote to be done by ballot.   The vote  to suspend failed and the vote was done by viva voce.  I am not trying to cause future problems, just trying to understand.

Since the bylaws provide that the vote may be by voice if there is only one candidate, the assembly does not need to allow for a ballot in such cases, but the assembly may do so if it wishes, and there is no need to suspend any rules. The rule states that the vote may be by voice. It therefore does not prohibit a ballot vote, so a majority vote is sufficient to order that a ballot vote be taken (rather than the 2/3 vote required to suspend the rules).

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So if I understand correctly - if only one person stands, and someone asks for a paper ballot.  There would be a motion for a paper ballot, it must have a 2nd and voted.  A a majority vote would then allow for a paper ballot, but if the majority vote would fail, the vote would then fall to the viva voce vote?   Again, I just want to be clear and sorry for my ignorance.

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Guest Who's Coming to Dinner
24 minutes ago, Guest Kristi said:

So if I understand correctly - if only one person stands, and someone asks for a paper ballot.  There would be a motion for a paper ballot, it must have a 2nd and voted.  A a majority vote would then allow for a paper ballot, but if the majority vote would fail, the vote would then fall to the viva voce vote?   Again, I just want to be clear and sorry for my ignorance.

I would think so. It would of course be far more expeditious to default to RONR's acclamation ("Candidate X is elected.") However, your bylaws appear to mandate a vote of some sort by referring to "the vote," although this is ultimately a matter for your society to decide.

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35 minutes ago, Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said:

I would think so. It would of course be far more expeditious to default to RONR's acclamation ("Candidate X is elected.") However, your bylaws appear to mandate a vote of some sort by referring to "the vote," although this is ultimately a matter for your society to decide.

Thank you!

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I covered this in my answer earlier -- but obviously not clearly enough.

Yes, someone can ask for a paper ballot before any name is put forward for election. Same rules: the motion requires a second and a majority vote to be adopted.

In fact, someone could make a motion at the beginning of the elections that all votes be done by ballot for all positions. That would avoid having to make a separate motion for each election. Again, that motion would require a second and a majority vote to be adopted.

Please familiarize yourself with Section 30 before the elections. I think you will find it very helpful.

Edited by Atul Kapur
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