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A Plurality that is not a Majority


Guest Gretchen
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At last night meeting our local unit wanted to decide which one of the five candidates (running for National President) to have our delegates support at the National Convention. A motion was placed on the floor to have the delegates support the National candidate that received a plurality of the votes at our unit meeting (no candidate received a majority votes). I believe that this decision conflicts with RONR, p.405, ll. 2-4 because our unit has no special rule allowing us to make decisions using a plurality that is not a majority (RONR is our parliamentary authority). Am I correct and if so what should we have done as no candidate was going to receive a majority vote.

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What your unit did at the meeting to which you refer appears to have been exactly correct.

If the motion that was made to have your delegates support the National candidate that received a plurality of the votes was adopted, then it seems that your unit adopted a special rule, to be effective for that meeting only, that a plurality vote would suffice.

 

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15 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

What your unit did at the meeting to which you refer appears to have been exactly correct.

If the motion that was made to have your delegates support the National candidate that received a plurality of the votes was adopted, then it seems that your unit adopted a special rule, to be effective for that meeting only, that a plurality vote would suffice.

 

What threshold would such a motion require to be adopted? I ask only because I see nothing in the OP to indicate that it received the vote required to adopt a special rule.

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19 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

What your unit did at the meeting to which you refer appears to have been exactly correct.

If the motion that was made to have your delegates support the National candidate that received a plurality of the votes was adopted, then it seems that your unit adopted a special rule, to be effective for that meeting only, that a plurality vote would suffice.

But we do not know if the special rule was adopted by either:

  • a 2/3 vote with previous notice; or,
  • a majority of the entire membership.

If it was not, then it may be too late now to raise a Point of Order, but it would be a stretch to say that it was exactly correct.  Is there a different threshold for rules of limited duration?

 

Note: This response was stuck in the editor overnight.

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7 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

What threshold would such a motion require to be adopted? I ask only because I see nothing in the OP to indicate that it received the vote required to adopt a special rule.

Such a motion (one which places a rule of order in effect for no longer than the current session) requires a two-thirds vote for its adoption (RONR, 11th ed., p. 620, ll. 4-12).

 

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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Such a motion (one which places a rule of order in effect for no longer than the current session) requires a two-thirds vote for its adoption (RONR, 11th ed., p. 620, ll. 4-12).

 

In this case, couldn't the rule that delegates be elected by majority vote be suspended for the session?  

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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Such a motion (one which places a rule of order in effect for no longer than the current session) requires a two-thirds vote for its adoption (RONR, 11th ed., p. 620, ll. 4-12).

 

Thank you. The citation is to the section on Convention Rules and states "provisions which, in an ordinary local society or assembly, would need a two-thirds vote to be placed in effect for the duration of a meeting or session, or would require adoption as a special rule of order to continue in force from session to session (see 2)."

Can you please help me locate another mention of the threshold for rules that would have effect for only the duration of a session for regular or special meetings (i.e., not conventions) and their threshold, as opposed to the requirements for a special rule of order as Mr. Novosielski has quoted above? Thanks.

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16 minutes ago, J. J. said:

In this case, couldn't the rule that delegates be elected by majority vote be suspended for the session?  

Well, the delegates weren't being elected, the assembly was deciding which one of five candidates running for National President their delegates should support, but in any event yes, by adopting the rule that a plurality vote would suffice to elect, the assembly was suspending the rule that a majority vote was required.

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6 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

Thank you. The citation is to the section on Convention Rules and states "provisions which, in an ordinary local society or assembly, would need a two-thirds vote to be placed in effect for the duration of a meeting or session, or would require adoption as a special rule of order to continue in force from session to session (see 2)."

Can you please help me locate another mention of the threshold for rules that would have effect for only the duration of a session for regular or special meetings (i.e., not conventions) and their threshold, as opposed to the requirements for a special rule of order as Mr. Novosielski has quoted above? Thanks.

It seems to me that the citation I provided is sufficient (in other words, I don't know of any other).

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The citation seemed to be an allusion, but thanks for confirming that I didn't miss anything.

So, to wrap things up (for me, at least): the motion at the local meeting to decide by plurality was in order and would have required a 2/3 vote to be adopted. If it was erroneously declared adopted on a majority vote (the OP did not tell us the vote), a point of order would need to be made in a timely manner.

Thanks for the clarifications.

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4 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

The citation seemed to be an allusion, but thanks for confirming that I didn't miss anything.

So, to wrap things up (for me, at least): the motion at the local meeting to decide by plurality was in order and would have required a 2/3 vote to be adopted. If it was erroneously declared adopted on a majority vote (the OP did not tell us the vote), a point of order would need to be made in a timely manner.

Thanks for the clarifications.

I'm still unclear whether a special rule was adopted or an existing rule was suspended.

This meeting was not a convention, if I read the original post correctly.

And such a motion could not be moved if the question in question was the election of officers, as any rule allowing election by less than a majority must be in the bylaws, if I'm reading that right.

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17 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

I think the delegates were being instructed, not elected.  And I don't think delegates are considered officers.

I agree, in both instances.  This was about instructing delegates and no where in RONR does it suggest that a special rule is needed to permit either.

Mr. Honemann's initial alluded to a special rule, which is why I asked the question.  If there was no notice and a majority of the entire membership was not there, it would still be in order under the rules for Suspension of the Rules.  :)

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4 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

I'm still unclear whether a special rule was adopted or an existing rule was suspended.

Does it matter?

4 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

This meeting was not a convention, if I read the original post correctly.

And such a motion could not be moved if the question in question was the election of officers, as any rule allowing election by less than a majority must be in the bylaws, if I'm reading that right.

The meeting in question was not a convention. Rules of order which apply to a single session, however, are not limited to conventions - the text only discusses them in the context of conventions because they are more common in that context.

“Bylaws, on the other hand—and special rules of order, which do deal with parliamentary procedure—contain the provisions that are expected to have stability from session to session, and to represent the judgment of the whole society as distinguished from the members voting at any particular session. These rules therefore require both previous notice and a two-thirds vote for amendment (with a vote of a majority of the entire membership as an allowable alternative); and rules of order require a two-thirds vote for suspension, while bylaws normally cannot be suspended (see 2, 25).” (RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 87-88)

For a rule which applies only to a single session, the above rule does not apply, and therefore a 2/3 vote is sufficient for adoption.

4 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

And such a motion could not be moved if the question in question was the election of officers, as any rule allowing election by less than a majority must be in the bylaws, if I'm reading that right.

The question in question was not the election of officers.

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