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Referendum

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The bylaws of one of our chapters state "REFERENDUM – Chapter membership may exercise its power through the use of the referendum process. Any action may be proposed by circulation of a petition that clearly states the action desired and is signed by 25% or more of the membership in good standing. The President shall be required to present the question to a vote within 30 days of receipt. A quorum must be present to vote, and 2/3 of the quorum will decide the vote. Also, Chapter members must be given 14 days written notice of the question."

There is a disagreement between some of the members and the board of directors about a recent decision. 

1) The member circulating the petition feels it should be anonymous. I think it must be via email (can't sign as we are prohibited from in person meetings at this time) and therefore, not anonymous.

2) I can't find any reference to referendum (referenda) in Robert's Rules. Are they using this totally incorrectly in the first place? What is the process (for future bylaw amendments)?

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RONR is silent about referendums [referenda?] but, even if it did say something different, you need to follow your bylaws.

If you are talking about the petition, I don't see how anything that needs to be signed can be anonymous.

If you mean that the petitioner wants the vote to be anonymous or secret, then that is a decision that would made by the meeting (by voting on a motion to conduct the vote by ballot). Your bylaws are a bit confusing because they talk about a "referendum process" but mention that "a quorum must be present to vote" which sounds more like a special meeting.

Does anything in your bylaws authorize voting by mail or email or in any way other than those members physically present at a meeting?

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Your group has introduced several things that aren't in RONR, so your group is responsible for creating clear procedures on how to run them. Until that happens, your group is the only one that can interpret your rules.

First, you've introduced a "referendum process" although it seems to actually be a way to call for a special meeting or, at least, to graft a membership-wide vote onto the special meeting structure.

Second, you've introduced electronic meetings but without, as RONR advises on p. 97, lines 31-34: "it is advisable to adopt additional rules pertaining to their conduct."

As a non-member, my opinion is worth the paper it's not written on. However, the standard method of voting in RONR (voice vote or by rising) is an open vote; that is, others can see or hear how you vote if they care to listen or watch you. Changing that to a secret voting method requires a motion, or rules. You can argue to extend that principle to your situation.

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