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Use of Credentials Committee at an AGM


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Hi all, 


I wanted to ask a hypothetical about the use of a credentials committee at an AGM. Is it proper to require prior registration to an AGM and then have a credentials committee of sorts as per 59:14?
 
 I recognize the difference between an AGM and a Convention from RONR's perspective; I wonder what the members here think about the use of registration as per 59:14 at a general meeting of an organized society? I think from an organizational perspective; it would be difficult (especially in a virtual world) to not ID the members to ensure they are entitled to be present and vote; although, at the same time, how can a group (other than the assembly themselves) impose such a rule, such as registering in advance. How would the assembly be able to make such a rule if it is not clear who is entitled to vote prior to the meeting's call to order? My hypothetical would be a society that is so large that it is not reasonable that the Chair or anyone for that matter would recognize every member (several thousand). Further, if an ID is required to enter the meeting, how is this rule applied to the membership but not made by the membership; to me, it seems incongruent with some of the principles I have seen discussed here, such as a rule of the society can only be interpreted by the society not the Board or any other body (56:68).  
 
 Anyways, I have been trying to wrap my brain around this one and have come here for guidance. Thank you all in advance

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9 hours ago, JustinPappano said:

Is it proper to require prior registration to an AGM and then have a credentials committee of sorts as per 59:14?

I see no reason why the society could not adopt such rules. Indeed, I do not think such rules are unusual for large societies.

9 hours ago, JustinPappano said:

How would the assembly be able to make such a rule if it is not clear who is entitled to vote prior to the meeting's call to order?

I'm not sure I understand the question. Is your concern that there are so many imposters that there are enough of them to prevent adoption of the rule? If not, I don't understand what is preventing the assembly from adopting this rule.

Certainly the rule in question will have to be applied somewhat differently at the meeting where the rule is adopted, since the assembly cannot have members retroactively register in advance. A proviso could be adopted to handle this. The rule below is written in general terms and can be adapted to what exactly you have in mind, adding or modifying details as desired.

"Members shall be required to register for meetings of the membership X days in advance of the meeting by submitting a registration form. Members shall also be required to present identification to the credentials committee upon arriving at a meeting of the membership. The credentials committee shall verify that the person is a member in good standing prior to issuing credentials to the member.

The Board of Directors is authorized to appoint a credentials committee for each meeting of the membership. The board is also authorized to adopt policies regarding the form and manner of registration, the forms of identification which are permitted, and such other policies necessary to implement these requirements.

PROVISO: The chairman shall appoint a credentials committee of five members, which is instructed to report in 30 minutes with proposed identification requirements for the present meeting. The assembly shall recess for 30 minutes and shall then immediately hear the report of the credentials committee, considering the proposed rules for adoption and possible amendment. After adoption of these rules, the assembly shall recess for another 30 minutes and all persons present shall be required to submit the required identification to the credentials committee in order to continue participating in the present meeting. Registration X days in advance is not required for the present meeting."

9 hours ago, JustinPappano said:

Further, if an ID is required to enter the meeting, how is this rule applied to the membership but not made by the membership; to me, it seems incongruent with some of the principles I have seen discussed here, such as a rule of the society can only be interpreted by the society not the Board or any other body (56:68).  

Yes, I think the rule described here could only be adopted by the membership, unless the bylaws provide otherwise. It is quite common for large societies to grant extensive power to the board.

Edited by Josh Martin
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Thank you Mr. Martin, you addressed all of my concerns.

 

54 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

I'm not sure I understand the question. Is your concern that there are so many imposters that there are enough of them to prevent adoption of the rule? If not, I don't understand what is preventing the assembly from adopting this rule.

You addressed my concern here with the sentence, I was unsure how it would occur at its first instance. 
 

55 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

Yes, I think the rule described here could only be adopted by the membership, unless the bylaws provide otherwise. It is quite common for large societies to grant extensive power to the board.

For my curiosity, what sort of bylaw language would authorize the Board to have such power? I have seen Boards that have the ability to amend their society's bylaws; therefore, even if they are unable to institute this on their own volition, I assume they can change the bylaws to reflect the language you kindly presented above? 

Thank you! 

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36 minutes ago, JustinPappano said:

For my curiosity, what sort of bylaw language would authorize the Board to have such power?

There could, for instance, be bylaw language which explicitly grants the board the power in question. Other cases may be more of a gray area.

36 minutes ago, JustinPappano said:

I have seen Boards that have the ability to amend their society's bylaws; therefore, even if they are unable to institute this on their own volition, I assume they can change the bylaws to reflect the language you kindly presented above? 

If the board has the power to amend the bylaws, then yes, it could amend the bylaws to adopt rules of this nature in the bylaws, or amend the bylaws to grant the board the authority to adopt such rules.

Edited by Josh Martin
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I think we may be getting too complicated here. I don't know that special rules of order or bylaws amendments are required.

RONR (12th ed.) 61:6 says that "A society has the right to determine who may be present at its meetings and to control its hall while meetings are in progress"
All that I see in the OP's questions are about the practicalities of how the society enforces this right.

Whoever has the authority to make the necessary preparations for the meeting, for example, rent the hall where it will be held (or the virtual hall), would almost certainly have the right to confirm that members are attending and non-members are not. Likely this will be the board or staff.

Edited by Atul Kapur
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17 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

Whoever has the authority to make the necessary preparations for the meeting, for example, rent the hall where it will be held (or the virtual hall), would almost certainly have the right to confirm that members are attending and non-members are not. Likely this will be the board or staff.

Dr. Kapur, do you think this would also apply in the case of requiring members to register in advance? For example, in the call stating that all members who wish to attend must register 48 hours prior to the start of the meeting, in your opinion, would this be covered by 61:6 or would it have to be in the nature of a special rule of order/bylaw clause?

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10 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

I think we may be getting too complicated here. I don't know that special rules of order or bylaws amendments are required.

RONR (12th ed.) 61:6 says that "A society has the right to determine who may be present at its meetings and to control its hall while meetings are in progress"
All that I see in the OP's questions are about the practicalities of how the society enforces this right.

Whoever has the authority to make the necessary preparations for the meeting, for example, rent the hall where it will be held (or the virtual hall), would almost certainly have the right to confirm that members are attending and non-members are not. Likely this will be the board or staff.

I don't have any disagreement that, as a general matter, staff and officers have the authority and duty "to confirm that members are attending and non-members are not," but I don't know that this necessarily extends to the authority to adopt requirements that members register in advance or that members present identification upon entering the meeting, which are the specific rules the OP was asking about.

I do not think it would be at all unreasonable for officers or staff to ask the names of persons entering and check those names against the membership roll, but if further verification is desired, I think it is best to check with the society to determine what exactly it wants to do in this regard, or alternately, to seek specific authorization for the board to adopt its own rules on the matter.

1 minute ago, JustinPappano said:

Dr. Kapur, do you think this would also apply in the case of requiring members to register in advance? For example, in the call stating that all members who wish to attend must register 48 hours prior to the start of the meeting, in your opinion, would this be covered by 61:6 or would it have to be in the nature of a special rule of order/bylaw clause?

I would note that, setting aside for a moment any questions of whether this is covered under 61:6 or whether the board has the authority to adopt such rules, it is certainly the case that simply putting things in the call of the meeting is not the appropriate method to adopt rules.

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2 hours ago, JustinPappano said:

Dr. Kapur, do you think this would also apply in the case of requiring members to register in advance? For example, in the call stating that all members who wish to attend must register 48 hours prior to the start of the meeting, in your opinion, would this be covered by 61:6 or would it have to be in the nature of a special rule of order/bylaw clause?

 

2 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

I don't have any disagreement that, as a general matter, staff and officers have the authority and duty "to confirm that members are attending and non-members are not," but I don't know that this necessarily extends to the authority to adopt requirements that members register in advance or that members present identification upon entering the meeting, which are the specific rules the OP was asking about.

I do not think it would be at all unreasonable for officers or staff to ask the names of persons entering and check those names against the membership roll

First, the right is meaningless without a way to enforce that right. So the important point here is the reasonableness of the methods used to do so. Is it reasonable for the society to require proof of identification or proof of membership? I'd say, in many cases, yes. Sometimes, it's reasonable to assume that the person is both who they say they are and are a member unless someone challenges or questions it.

So the same standard should be applied to the requirement to register 48 hours in advance. Is it reasonable? For many electronic meetings, that time is required to verify that registrants are members, to prepare the list of people entitled to vote at the meeting, etc.

If a member feels the requirements are unreasonable, then I think a point of order can be raised at the meeting. 

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1 hour ago, Atul Kapur said:

First, the right is meaningless without a way to enforce that right. So the important point here is the reasonableness of the methods used to do so. Is it reasonable for the society to require proof of identification or proof of membership? I'd say, in many cases, yes. Sometimes, it's reasonable to assume that the person is both who they say they are and are a member unless someone challenges or questions it.

So the same standard should be applied to the requirement to register 48 hours in advance. Is it reasonable? For many electronic meetings, that time is required to verify that registrants are members, to prepare the list of people entitled to vote at the meeting, etc.

Certainly the society may impose these requirements, but this does not mean that the board can impose them. I certainly do not think that RONR grants the board the authority to impose such requirements. It may well be that the bylaws of a particular society grant the board such authority.

1 hour ago, Atul Kapur said:

If a member feels the requirements are unreasonable, then I think a point of order can be raised at the meeting. 

That may be difficult if the members who feel the requirements are unreasonable are prevented from attending the meeting.

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