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Voting & bylaws

Guest Susan Hayes

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Recently my society voted on new bylaws.   There was debate on the new bylaws and a vote.

  1. At the membership meeting, the bylaws were said to have passed on a voice vote; 
  2. The voice vote was challenged by a member and a physical vote was requested; 
  3. Said request for a physical vote was denied by the chair, which declared that the bylaws passed by voice vote.  
  4. A question arose on the floor by a member as to whether the bylaws just passed were valid since the requested physical vote was denied.

Two questions:

If the request for a standing vote was denied and the chair dismissed any further requests - deemed the vote over and moved on - is the vote valid?

If the new bylaws have a statement that violates one of Roberts Rules of Order, are they still valid?  The new bylaws state that the president will appoint the nominating committee.  I tried to tell them that needed to be changed but they did not make any changes and left it in to be voted on.


Thanks in advance for pointing me to the correct section in RORN.

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1. The motion is adopted and cannot be challenged, since the interval of time within which anything further could be done has expired.

2. The bylaw empowering the president to appoint the nominating committee is in force, provided it does not violate anything in controlling law or regulation.

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2 hours ago, Guest Susan Hayes said:

If the new bylaws have a statement that violates one of Roberts Rules of Order, are they still valid?

Since the organization’s own bylaws are superior to and supersede RONR, the provisions in the bylaws control. RONR is subordinate to your bylaws. 

I agree that it appears that although the chair did not handle the call for division (for a rising vote) properly, there was apparently no point of order and no appeal, so it is too late now to do anything about it other than to try to rescind or amend the newly adopted amendments that some members object to. 
There are only a few breaches of order that constitute a continuing breach and can be challenged by a point of order after the fact and this is not one of them. 

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Guest Susan, If you think there is a chance of an action for discipline or removal against the president to succeed, you might look at FAQ # 20 on the main website and also chapter XX in RONR.  However, if he or she has the support of most of the members, I would think such an action is not likely to succeed.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last sentence
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I suspect that the presiding officer was under the impression that once a voice vote was taken then that was the end of it. Perhaps a purchase of RONR at a local bookstore (make sure it is the latest edition and not one of the many knockoffs that exist) and showing the presiding officer that the motion for a Division Of The Assembly does provide for a verification of a vote by a different method until the assembly is satisfied that the result is correct as announced. Yes, the presiding officer could express some doubt and take to one of the other methods at his/her own initiative, but the decision itself belongs to the assembly and not the presiding officer, after all, the adoption of the bylaws are the society's bylaws and not the presiding officer's bylaws. Perhaps this would prevent such events taking place in the future.

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Since the bylaws presumably require a 2/3 vote for adoption, the use of a voice vote was  improper to begin with, since it's not possible to reliably determine whether a 2/3 vote was achieved.

Unfortunately, if no point of order, and appeal was raised in a timely manner, it's too late now.

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