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Rob Elsman

Quorum and a Polling Place

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If there is a quorum at a meeting, but by just a few members, when a secret ballot vote is begun, is the quorum lost if a sufficient number of members go to line up at a polling place in a nearby room while the proceedings continue?

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But, what about the fundamental principle of parliamentary law that voting is limited to members who are actually "present"? If voting is being done "down the hall somewhere", and the members are not, as you say, present, how could their votes be legal votes by legal voters?

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RONR (11th ed.), p. 439 mentions a polling place apart from the meeting for elections at conventions. In my own opinion, the same could just as easily apply to ballot voting of any kind during other types of meetings, where it seemed convenient.

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3 hours ago, jstackpo said:

I agree (with somebody): the association should, or must, formally authorize  voting outside a meeting place for the voting to be valid.

This would be a motion relating to voting or to the polls.

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I suspect the authors intend to consider members who are "down the hall somewhere" at a polling place apart from the meeting hall are, nonetheless, "present" at the meeting for purposes of determining the presence or absence of a quorum. But, I could be wrong.

Either way, I have come to suspect that the authors use "present" (or, more specifically, physically "present") as an undefined term of art—that is, in a way that would not be evident to an average reader with a modern American dictionary at hand. The repartee between Dr. Stackpole and myself illustrates my point perfectly.

On the one hand, a member is physically "present" at a meeting when his body is co-located in the one meeting room or area with other members, "face-to-face", so to speak. See RONR (11th ed.), p. 97. As Dr. Stackpole "certainly" opines, this clearly seems to be the definition intended by the authors in the definition of a quorum in RONR (11th ed.), p. 5 and elsewhere. On the other hand, the authors seem more nuanced about applying the fundamental principle of parliamentary law that voting is  limited to members who are "actually present" at a [...] meeting, RONR (11th ed.), p. 423, to a "'polling place' apart from the convention meeting". RONR (11th ed.), p. 439. In this latter instance, the authors seem to intend that voters at the "'polling place' apart from the convention meeting" are, nevertheless, "actually present" in the sense intended in the definition on page 439.

I wonder whether this awfully fundamental word, "present", needs to be formally defined in the book.

 

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13 hours ago, Rob Elsman said:

If there is a quorum at a meeting, but by just a few members, when a secret ballot vote is begun, is the quorum lost if a sufficient number of members go to line up at a polling place in a nearby room while the proceedings continue?

Yes.

13 hours ago, Rob Elsman said:

But, what about the fundamental principle of parliamentary law that voting is limited to members who are actually "present"? If voting is being done "down the hall somewhere", and the members are not, as you say, present, how could their votes be legal votes by legal voters?

RONR specifically establishes the possibility of polling place(s) in the case of a ballot vote, and such polling places may well be separate from the meeting hall. Members at such a polling place may cast their ballots for the votes the polling places are established for. This does not mean that members who are at such a polling place are considered present for the purpose of the assembly conducting other business.

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10 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

Yes.

RONR specifically establishes the possibility of polling place(s) in the case of a ballot vote, and such polling places may well be separate from the meeting hall. Members at such a polling place may cast their ballots for the votes the polling places are established for. This does not mean that members who are at such a polling place are considered present for the purpose of the assembly conducting other business.

I'm in complete agreement. 

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On 12/15/2019 at 10:23 AM, Rob Elsman said:

I suspect the authors intend to consider members who are "down the hall somewhere" at a polling place apart from the meeting hall are, nonetheless, "present" at the meeting for purposes of determining the presence or absence of a quorum. But, I could be wrong.

I think it's pretty clear that when I agree with J. J.'s agreement with Josh Martin, we're all disagreeing with your suspicion.

The members who are voting at the polling place are casting valid votes, but that doesn't automatically make them present at the meeting at which the assembly is conducting other business.

I would add that it seems like a rather bad idea to have balloting outside the meeting room while a meeting is in progress. 

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I don't see anyone saying that such a member is "both present and not present at the meeting at the same time."

Rather, as Mr. Gerber puts it, "The members who are voting at the polling place are casting valid votes, but that doesn't automatically make them present at the meeting at which the assembly is conducting other business."

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