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Guest Agnes

New member voting rights

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Guest Agnes

We have a relatively small civic association 501(c)4 and are having upcoming elections for board positions. One member is soliciting new memberships and asking that the new members vote via write-in for him. He is even supplying them with ballots that he created.  We have nothing in our bylaws, other than the indication that members in good standing are eligible to vote, but we have a history of denying voting rights to those who come to the election meeting and fill out a member application and pay the annual dues. In other words, we have previously not allowed a brand new member to vote.  

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RONR says members have all rights of membership, including the right to vote. Exceptions to this would need to be specified in your bylaws.

It sounds like you have been operating under a custom (unwritten practice). RONR says that when a custom is in conflict with the parliamentary authority, a Point of Order can be made and the custom "falls to the ground" and you have to follow the applicable written rule. (RONR 11th ed., page 19).

The bylaws supercede RONR so if you had something in your bylaws to back up this custom, you would continue to follow that. You can amend the bylaws to be in line with your custom, but I doubt that you can do so in time to affect your upcoming elections.

 

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My answer assumed that these people were, as the last line of the OP says, "a brand new member".

Mr. Elsman correctly brings up the question of when exactly the person becomes a member. The answer, hopefully, will be found in your bylaws.

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Guest Zev
2 hours ago, Rob Elsman said:

If membership is rejected, the treasurer refunds the dues paid.

I would feel a whole lot better if the prospective member's check were returned to him in case his application was rejected, but not the case where the organization deposits the funds into its bank account and then some time later says "oops here's your money back." An alternative would be to make the acceptance to membership conditional upon the receipt of the bylaws-defined dues.

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I believe the first answer in this thread, by Atul Kapur,  correctly answers the question, assuming that new members are considered members from the moment they submit their membership application and pay their dues.

If something else is required, such as approval of new member applications by the membership or a bylaw provision requiring a waiting period before new members can vote, that would change the situation.  
 

Edited to add: As Dr. Kapur correctly stated, members are entitled to vote from the moment they become members unless there is a bylaw provision to the contrary.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph

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On 11/15/2019 at 9:51 PM, Rob Elsman said:

A "brand new" applicant is not a member until the authorized power adopts a motion to make him one. If membership is rejected, the treasurer refunds the dues paid.

Not all associations require that new members be approved. In some societies, all that is required is completing an application and paying dues.

On 11/15/2019 at 9:20 PM, Guest Agnes said:

We have a relatively small civic association 501(c)4 and are having upcoming elections for board positions. One member is soliciting new memberships and asking that the new members vote via write-in for him. He is even supplying them with ballots that he created.  We have nothing in our bylaws, other than the indication that members in good standing are eligible to vote, but we have a history of denying voting rights to those who come to the election meeting and fill out a member application and pay the annual dues. In other words, we have previously not allowed a brand new member to vote.  

Members have the right to vote immediately upon becoming a member unless your bylaws provide otherwise.

Edited by Josh Martin

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