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Adam Hathaway

Rights of Non-Voting Ex-Officio Members

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Good Morning,

I understand that ex-officio members of a committee have all of the rights of membership.  However, when a member is designated as a 'non-voting ex-officio' member, does that member still have the right to move and second motions?

Thank You and Be Well.

~Adam

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That depends on what the document making the member "non-voting ex-officio" says.  What does it say; please quote exactly.

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1 hour ago, Adam Hathaway said:

I understand that ex-officio members of a committee have all of the rights of membership.  However, when a member is designated as a 'non-voting ex-officio' member, does that member still have the right to move and second motions?

So far as RONR is concerned, the world is neatly divided into members (who have all of the rights of membership) and non-members (who have none of the rights of membership). If an organization mucks about with that neat divide by creating some sort of quasi-member, the organization will need to carefully interpret its own rules on that matter to determine what rights such persons do (and do not) have.

RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 588-591 includes some Principles of Interpretation which may be of assistance in this regard. In particular, Principles of Interpretation #6 and #8 seem relevant.

In the long run, it would be prudent for the organization to amend the bylaws to either remove these quasi-members or, in the alternative, clearly delineate what rights they do (and do not) have.

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2 hours ago, Adam Hathaway said:

I understand that ex-officio members of a committee have all of the rights of membership.  However, when a member is designated as a 'non-voting ex-officio' member, does that member still have the right to move and second motions?

RONR does not address the question of such quasi-membership directly, but there are tangential discussions in two places that I can think of:

  • The footnote on page 6 (11th ed.) states, “Members in good standing are those whose rights as members of the assembly are not under suspension as a consequence of disciplinary proceedings or by operation of some specific provision in the bylaws. A member may thus be in good standing even if in arrears in payment of dues (see pp. 406, 571–72). If only some of an individual's rights as a member of the assembly are under suspension (for example, the rights to make motions and speak in debate), other rights of assembly membership may still be exercised (for example, the rights to attend meetings and vote).”
  • On page 463 and in the accompanying footnote, with respect to honorary officers and members RONR states, “Like an honorary degree conferred by a college or university, an honorary office or membership is perpetual—unless rescinded or unless its duration is limited by the bylaws. Rights carried with the honor include the right to attend meetings and to speak, but not to make motions or vote unless the person is also a regular member, or unless the bylaws provide full membership rights.* *Some societies provide in the bylaws for electing to "honorary life membership"—or even its automatic conferment upon—a person who has been an active member for a specified long period of years, sometimes with the added requirement that he shall have attained a certain age. The bylaws may prescribe that such an honorary member shall pay no dues but shall retain full voting privileges.”

I would think that in general, the purpose of providing for a "non-voting ex-officio member" of a committee would be to ensure both that the member is informed of the goings-on in the committee and that the committee takes into account the member's suggestions and opinions on the subjects of the committee's work.

And since conferring "membership" must mean something, and since the only limitation is that it is "non-voting", I don't quite understand what valid method of interpretation would lead to the conclusion that the member could only, let's say, attend meetings and speak in debate, but not make or second motions (if there is a rule that motions in this committee need to be seconded), or to the conclusion that no membership rights are conferred on the member at all. It seems to me the most logical conclusion is that this person has all the usual rights of committee membership other than voting, although not actually a "member" or "voting member" in the parliamentary sense of those terms, but he or she would not be counted for purposes of a quorum.

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Sadly, I have seen many bylaws that include the phrase 'non-voting ex-officio member".

Mr. Gerber, THANK YOU for your answer. It was quite illuminating.

Mr. Martin, I agree that the section in the bylaws should be clarified. Thank you for pointing out the Principles of Interpretation.

Mr. J., the exact wording is:

     "The title of Past President shall be assumed by the President from the year prior, after a new President is installed.  The functions of the Past President are to:    

          A. Serve on the Executive Committee as an ex-officio, non-voting member.  

          B. Serve as an advisor to the current President.    

          C. Perform other duties as directed by the President or the Staff Council. "

And I agree, this section of the bylaws needs addressing

Thank You and Be Well.

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While addressing this section, you might want to think long & hard about there being an office for and ex-president at all.  Suppose a president were removed with cause, but retained membership in an organization.  There might well be a great deal of acrimony.  The ex-president would then be in a position to cause a great deal of trouble.

The in-between option would seem to me to be:

"Be informed of all meetings of the Executive Committee, and, subject to the will of the committee, be permitted to speak and make motions and to speak in debate."

The "subject to the will of the committee" then permits the committee to adopt a motion to exclude the ex-p by majority vote should that become necessary.  But that's just one thought.

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