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Parliamentarian role in regards to voting, debate, making motions


Guest Kate Klein

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Guest Kate Klein

We have a membership of 100 + people and a Board of 9.  There is a Parliamentarian that will serve as such for the Board meetings and the general membership meetings.  From what has been deciphered so far about the role of Parliamentarian is that the position does not vote, debate or make motions.  Can anyone provide where in Robert's Rules clarity can be found in regards to this?

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What you have deciphered so far is correct, a parliamentarian who is a member of the assembly which they are advising has a duty to maintain a position of impartiality, which includes not making motions, participating in debate, or voting (except voting on votes by ballot). Parliamentarians cannot temporarily leave their post to debate or make motions as a presiding officer may from time to time, nor can they vote when their vote will make a difference.

The reference in RONR, where you will find all of this information, is page 467, which outlines a member acting as the assembly's parliamentarian; for more information about the office of the parliamentarian, consult pages 465-467.

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Agreeing with new member Justin Pappano (welcome to the group Justin!), the "rule" against the parliamentarian making motions, participating in debate and voting except when the vote is by ballot is a pretty strong "should" rule, but is not an outright prohibition.  Just like with the presiding officer, if the parliamentarian is a member of the assembly, he has the same fundamental rights as all other members, including the right to make motions, participate in debate and to vote if he insists on exercising those rights.  However, insisting  on engaging in those activities might not be looked upon kindly by the membership and he should not agree to serve as parliamentarian unless he is willing to give them up.

If a member does not wish to give up his rights to full participation in order to serve as parliamentarian, there are still two or threef options.  One is to suspend the rules in a particular situation to give the parliamentarian permission to participate.  Another is to adopt a special rule of order specifying which rights the member parliamentarian may exercise the same as other members.  A third is for the member to decline the appointment as parliamentarian, but to agree to serve unofficially as an "experienced member" whom the chair can call upon for parliamentary advice per this provision on page 254 of the 11th edition:  "Before rendering his decision, the chair can consult the parliamentarian, if there is one. The chair can also request the advice of experienced members, but no one has the right to express such opinions in the meeting unless requested to do so by the chair."

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5 minutes ago, Guest Kate Klein said:

Thank you.  Is it possible for one of you to screen shot those pages?  The book I have is the abbreviated version.  

No, I don't think it would be appropriate to provide a screenshot of three full pages of a copyrighted work. You should get a copy of the full book yourself. Also, I hope by the "abbreviated version" you mean Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief and not one of the third party knockoffs out there.

I will provide the paragraph which is most relevant to your original question.

"A member of an assembly who acts as its parliamentarian has the same duty as the presiding officer to maintain a position of impartiality, and therefore does not make motions, participate in debate, or vote on any question except in the case of a ballot vote. He does not cast a deciding vote, even if his vote would affect the result, since that would interfere with the chair's prerogative of doing so. If a member feels that he cannot properly forgo these rights in order to serve as parliamentarian, he should not accept that position. Unlike the presiding officer, the parliamentarian cannot temporarily relinquish his position in order to exercise such rights on a particular motion." (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 467)

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6 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

"Before rendering his decision, the chair can consult the parliamentarian, if there is one. The chair can also request the advice of experienced members, but no one has the right to express such opinions in the meeting unless requested to do so by the chair."

 

3 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Or by raising a point of order, whereby one may contrast one's own opinion with that of the chair.

Except that Mr. Brown's quote refers to the situation before the chair has rendered their decision. A point of order can only be raised  after the ruling has been given.

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