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Scenario: An elected deliberative assembly has no rules in its bylaws about the election of its Mayor and Deputy Mayor other than mirroring state law which requires the assembly to elect, by a majority vote, a Mayor and Deputy Mayor each year, for a one year term. The assembly consists of only seven members. The vote for the office of Mayor is distributed 3-2-2 for the three candidates running - nobody has a majority vote at this point. To suggest that the assembly continue to hold an election for the same three candidates over and over until one of them achieves a majority would be career suicide for the staff member who suggests this. Adopting a Special Rule of Order or suspending the rules is not in order because it would override higher state law which is not permitted.

What is a reasonable solution to this situation? What if there were four candidates and the votes were distributed 2-2-2-1? How can we reasonably work toward ensuring that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are elected to their respective offices by majority vote when three or more run for each office?

Thank you.

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My first suggestion (if it isn't already being done) is to hold the election by ballot.  My second would be to reopen nominations (and debate on them) so the existing candidates can try to convince voters to switch to his or her side and/or maybe a compromise candidate will be nominated that a majority of the  members can live with.  Besides that I'm not sure what options you have if applicable law prevents you from Suspending the Rules to allow the winner to be picked in another way (such as drawing the high card, drawing the short straw, playing a game of HORSE, etc).

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On 9/4/2019 at 7:29 PM, Larry J. Randle said:

To suggest that the assembly continue to hold an election for the same three candidates over and over until one of them achieves a majority would be career suicide for the staff member who suggests this.

Unfortunately for the staff members, this is essentially the correct answer, except that new candidates could be added - perhaps there is someone the various factions can compromise on.

As for the issue of the “career suicide,” perhaps the staff should suggest hiring a professional parliamentarian so the correct answer can be given by someone whose livelihood is not dependent on the assembly’s mood.

On 9/4/2019 at 7:29 PM, Larry J. Randle said:

What is a reasonable solution to this situation? What if there were four candidates and the votes were distributed 2-2-2-1? How can we reasonably work toward ensuring that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are elected to their respective offices by majority vote when three or more run for each office?

The situation would be the same if there were four candidates with the votes split 2-2-2-1. The assembly will have to learn how to compromise.

On 9/4/2019 at 7:55 PM, Chris Harrison said:

My first suggestion (if it isn't already being done) is to hold the election by ballot.

I would advise checking state law first. For a public body, this might not be an option.

On 9/4/2019 at 7:55 PM, Chris Harrison said:

Besides that I'm not sure what options you have if applicable law prevents you from Suspending the Rules to allow the winner to be picked in another way (such as drawing the high card, drawing the short straw, playing a game of HORSE, etc).

I would think an option would be for members to hold some tie breaking method as suggested, and for the members to then voluntarily agree to vote for the winner of the tie breaking method. So let’s say they draw straws, and then another vote is held, and everyone votes for the person who drew the short straw.

The bottom line is that the only way anyone is getting elected is by majority vote, but what voters base their decisions on is up to them. 

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