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Resignation of elected officer before assumption of duties


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A group I belong to elected officers for the upcoming term in January. Our bylaws specify that new officers take office when sworn in at our May meeting. One of the newly elected officers (not the Pres or VP) is considering resigning. Our executive board has the authority to fill the vacancy until the election at the next annual meeting in Jan 2022. The question is does the current EB fill the vacancy or the EB that takes office in May? 

My interpretation of RONR 47.57 is that it would depend on the timing of the resignation rather than whether the officer has taken office yet. If the resignation is made to the EB between now and the May meeting, the current EB would fill. If the resignation comes after the May meeting (and swearing-in), the incoming EB would fill. Of course, the EB must provide the members with notice that the EB has filled the vacancy and the office would be subject to election at the next annual meeting. 

Does this sound like a correct interpretation?

Thank you!

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1 hour ago, T B Devine said:

A group I belong to elected officers for the upcoming term in January. Our bylaws specify that new officers take office when sworn in at our May meeting. One of the newly elected officers (not the Pres or VP) is considering resigning. Our executive board has the authority to fill the vacancy until the election at the next annual meeting in Jan 2022. The question is does the current EB fill the vacancy or the EB that takes office in May? 

My interpretation of RONR 47.57 is that it would depend on the timing of the resignation rather than whether the officer has taken office yet. If the resignation is made to the EB between now and the May meeting, the current EB would fill. If the resignation comes after the May meeting (and swearing-in), the incoming EB would fill. Of course, the EB must provide the members with notice that the EB has filled the vacancy and the office would be subject to election at the next annual meeting. 

Does this sound like a correct interpretation?

I think all of this is correct, but I would add that in my personal opinion, this vacancy likely should be filled by the executive board members who take office in May. While there is no rule which prohibits a vacancy from being preemptively filled, I don't really think it's a good idea for board members to fill a vacancy when the vacancy will not even exist until after their terms end. So if the resignation is submitted prior to May, I think it would be appropriate for the board to accept the resignation, but the board could then postpone the election to fill that vacancy to the next meeting, and so on and so forth until the new board members take office.

I would also clarify that the timing of the swearing-in is irrelevant. So far as RONR is concerned, being "sworn in" is purely ceremonial and does not affect the time at which a person takes office.

"An officer-elect takes possession of his office immediately upon his election’s becoming final, unless the bylaws or other rules specify a later time (see 56:27). If a formal installation ceremony is prescribed, failure to hold it does not affect the time at which the new officers assume office." RONR (12th ed.) 46:47

Edited by Josh Martin
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I understand Mr. Martin‘s rationale for saying he thinks that it’s better for the incoming executive board to fill the vacancy rather than the outgoing board, but I am not sure I agree and I don’t believe there is anything in RONR which actually requires that. Filling prospective vacancies, i.e., vacancies which will occur on a future date, may be filled prior to that date. It is not necessary to wait until the position is actually vacant in order to fill it.

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6 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

I understand Mr. Martin‘s rationale for saying he thinks that it’s better for the incoming executive board to fill the vacancy rather than the outgoing board, but I am not sure I agree and I don’t believe there is anything in RONR which actually requires that. Filling prospective vacancies, i.e., vacancies which will occur on a future date, may be filled prior to that date. It is not necessary to wait until the position is actually vacant in order to fill it.

I have no disagreement that nothing in RONR prevents a board from filling a prospective vacancy, even if the prospective vacancy will not occur until the current terms of some or all of the current board members end.

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Guest Puzzling
7 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

I'm having a little bit of trouble finding an index entry or a paragraph that deals with "prospective vacancies."

RONR does not regulate prospective vacancies. If an organization (strictly) follows RONR they can almost never exist. 

(Under RONR they only exist when an officer gives advance notice of resignation) 

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29 minutes ago, Guest Puzzling said:

RONR does not regulate prospective vacancies. If an organization (strictly) follows RONR they can almost never exist. 

(Under RONR they only exist when an officer gives advance notice of resignation) 

I don't know that an officer giving advance notice of a resignation is really so rare that they "almost never exist."

In any event, this organization has a period of time between the election and the time at which the officers take office. While it is correct that is not how things work in RONR, this is really not an unusual provision.

7 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

I'm having a little bit of trouble finding an index entry or a paragraph that deals with "prospective vacancies."

There isn't one. What's your point?

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54 minutes ago, Rob Elsman said:

My own sense of it is that an person cannot resign from an office he does not hold.

So if the bylaws provide that officers do not take office until a certain date, if a person who is elected to an office decides prior to taking office that they no longer wish to serve in the office, what is the appropriate course of action? Is the member unable to formally submit the resignation (and as a result, the resignation cannot be accepted and the vacancy cannot be filled) until the time at which the term of office begins?

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1 minute ago, Rob Elsman said:

Mr. Martin, it is my sense that you are correct.  RONR does not seem to provide a way to create a vacancy to fill until the person actually possesses an office from which to resign.

That is not my view, I was just trying to clarify your position.

As I understand the rules in RONR, a resignation is a particular form of a Request to be Excused from a Duty. It would seem to me that, through accepting the election, the member has accepted the duty of serving in that office, and that a member may request to be excused from that duty prior to the duty actually beginning.

"If a member who has accepted an office, committee assignment, or other duty finds that he is unable to perform it, he should submit his resignation. A resignation is submitted in writing, addressed to the secretary or appointing power; alternatively, it may be submitted during a meeting either orally or in writing.16 By submitting a resignation, the member is, in effect, requesting to be excused from a duty. The chair, on reading or announcing the resignation, can assume a motion “that the resignation be accepted." RONR (12th ed.) 32:5

Based upon the wording of this rule, my sense is that a member may submit a resignation at any time after accepting the office.

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8 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

That is not my view, I was just trying to clarify your position.

That is not my view either. (Edited to add that I agree with Mr. Martin, not with Mr. Elsman). 
 

8 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

. . . Based upon the wording of this rule, my sense is that a member may submit a resignation at any time after accepting the office.

I agree. It is further my opinion that the vacancy thus created may be filled without waiting until the date the officers are to assume office per the bylaws.  I believe that is Mr. Martin’s view, as well, but I am not positive and so therefore I am not speaking for him on that particular point.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added to first part of my response
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17 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

I agree. It is further my opinion that the vacancy thus created may be filled without waiting until the date the officers are to assume office per the bylaws.  I believe that is Mr. Martin’s view, as well, but I am not positive and so therefore I am not speaking for him on that particular point.

Yes, that is correct. It is my personal opinion that it is generally preferable to wait until the date the officers are to assume office, but I do not believe that the assembly is required to do so.

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Thank you all for this robust discussion! Just to give you the underlying scenario of the concern for the timing of the resignation, the person selected to fill the vacancy will likely be different depending on which EB has the responsibility to fill it. We are counting future votes.

TD

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