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Members approval of minutes for meetings they did not attend


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Hello all. Thank you for this forum.  It's clear from Section 41 (355) in the 11th edition that "a member's absence from a meeting for which minutes are being approved does not prevent the member from participating in their correction or approval" --  and I see it online confirmed in the 12th. I've always worked under the idea that this was not the case, and it is a commonly held belief. Can anyone tell me, if it was past practice to only allow members present at a meeting to approve its minutes, when that changed? 

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1 hour ago, Richard Harrison said:

I see it online confirmed in the 12th.

What do you mean by that?

1 hour ago, Richard Harrison said:

Can anyone tell me, if it was past practice to only allow members present at a meeting to approve its minutes, when that changed?

It was never past practice under Robert's Rules of Order, as far as I know, but a lot of people seem to have had that idea so it was addressed in the book.

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3 hours ago, Richard Harrison said:

 I've always worked under the idea that this was not the case, and it is a commonly held belief.   Can anyone tell me, if it was past practice to only allow members present at a meeting to approve its minutes, when that changed? 

A member cannot be deprived of the right to vote except as the bylaws provide or if the member is subject to disciplinary action(1:3n).  Even if that is has been your particular practice, it would fall as soon as a member is improperly deprived of his vote. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Richard Harrison said:

Thank you for your responses. I wonder where the idea started, but that's another investigation. 

I think it's fair to say that it was always the case that members who were not present could participate in correction/approval of minutes.

I don't know when the idea got started that they could not, but I agree it's a common misconception.  The classic example of why it should be allowed is if a member notes that, although he was absent, the minutes say he made a motion, he should certainly be allowed to offer a correction to fix that error.  But there is no need to search for reasons like that.  The rule is simply that members have all the rights of members.

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1 hour ago, Gary Novosielski said:

I don't know when the idea got started that they could not, but I agree it's a common misconception. 

Misconception may be an inappropriate word. It may never have existed under RONR, but it is an explicit rule in other parliamentary authorities. Kerr and King, for example, state that "A member who was absent is capable of identifying inaccuracies that can be confirmed independently. However, in the case on a controversy concerning a recorded happening, only those members known to be present at the meeting can participate in a vote to amend to [sic] the minutes of that meeting."

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15 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

Misconception may be an inappropriate word. It may never have existed under RONR, but it is an explicit rule in other parliamentary authorities. Kerr and King, for example, state that "A member who was absent is capable of identifying inaccuracies that can be confirmed independently. However, in the case on a controversy concerning a recorded happening, only those members known to be present at the meeting can participate in a vote to amend to [sic] the minutes of that meeting."

Thanks for the expanded view.  

I guess this strikes me as one of those rules that is intended to solve a problem that doesn't exist to any significant extent.  If a member really did insist on creating such a controversy, is it likely that a majority, knowing that the member was not present, would agree?  And would it take more time to simply vote down the spurious correction, than to raise a point of order regarding the validity of the motion, researching actual attendance records, possibly handling an appeal, and such?

I can't remember a time when I've actually seen this come up in real life, which is all to the good.  🙂

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"A member who was absent is capable of identifying inaccuracies that can be confirmed independently. However, in the case on a controversy concerning a recorded happening, only those members known to be present at the meeting can participate in a vote to amend to [sic] the minutes of that meeting."

Dr. Kapur refers to the above quote from Kerr and King as being an example of "an explicit rule in other parliamentary authorities." I respectfully submit that it is neither "explicit" nor derived from a widely recognized "parliamentary authority".

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

"A member who was absent is capable of identifying inaccuracies that can be confirmed independently. However, in the case on a controversy concerning a recorded happening, only those members known to be present at the meeting can participate in a vote to amend to [sic] the minutes of that meeting."

Dr. Kapur refers to the above quote from Kerr and King as being an example of "an explicit rule in other parliamentary authorities." I respectfully submit that it is neither "explicit" nor derived from a widely recognized "parliamentary authority".

Seems pretty explicit to me. And while Dr. Kapur didn't say that Kerr and King is "widely recognized" (just that it is a "parliamentary authority"), I suspect our Canadian friends would disagree with you suggestion that it is not (at least in Canada).

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Well then, perhaps you can explain to me whether or not the first sentence has any real bearing on the second.

He saw it on television or heard a tape. 

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4 minutes ago, J. J. said:

He saw it on television or heard a tape. 

Okay. So what bearing does that have on the meaning of the second sentence? The second sentence is : "However, in the case on a controversy concerning a recorded happening, only those members known to be present at the meeting can participate in a vote to amend to [sic] the minutes of that meeting."

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On 3/18/2021 at 9:15 PM, Atul Kapur said:

Misconception may be an inappropriate word. It may never have existed under RONR, but it is an explicit rule in other parliamentary authorities. Kerr and King, for example, state that "A member who was absent is capable of identifying inaccuracies that can be confirmed independently. However, in the case on a controversy concerning a recorded happening, only those members known to be present at the meeting can participate in a vote to amend to [sic] the minutes of that meeting."

 

What happens if the membership has changed since the meeting with no overlap and no one thought to use a committee? Maybe you just don't amend them, but what if, for instance, they say that Peter Pan flew in, or, more reasonably, they include a motion by a now-member who was not a member at the time?

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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Okay. So what bearing does that have on the meaning of the second sentence? The second sentence is : "However, in the case on a controversy concerning a recorded happening, only those members known to be present at the meeting can participate in a vote to amend to [sic] the minutes of that meeting."

There is a physical recording of it, but it is unclear.  I actually have seen that. 

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13 hours ago, Weldon Merritt said:

And while Dr. Kapur didn't say that Kerr and King is "widely recognized" (just that it is a "parliamentary authority"), I suspect our Canadian friends would disagree with you suggestion that it is not (at least in Canada).

As to this, I'll freely admit that I do not know whether or not this manual is widely recognized as a parliamentary authority in Canada. It may very well be.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

What happens if the membership has changed since the meeting with no overlap and no one thought to use a committee? Maybe you just don't amend them, but what if, for instance, they say that Peter Pan flew in, or, more reasonably, they include a motion by a now-member who was not a member at the time?

I would imagine one can independently confirm that Peter Pan did not fly into the room, and in any event, members can independently confirm the rule that this isn't something which belongs in the minutes unless a main motion was made regarding it.

As to the second example, it's not entirely to me whether you're suggesting that the person in question 1) was not, in fact, present at the meeting and therefore did not make the motion (in which case the person can presumably independently confirm this) or if 2) the person did, in fact, make the motion, but should not have since the person was not a member at the time (in which case there is no error to correct, since the minutes are a record of what was done, whether or not it was done properly).

While one might quibble over the wording, it seems to me that what this rule is getting at is "Don't vote on a controversy over the contents of the minutes if you have no idea which side is accurate," which seems like a perfectly reasonable suggestion, and I think is a good idea regardless of what parliamentary authority the assembly is using. 

I concur, however, that RONR's approach to this matter is preferable. For starters, there is the fact that the right to vote is a basic right of membership. Members retain their right to vote in all cases except when their rights are under disciplinary suspension or when their rights are deprived due to a specific provision in the bylaws. Even a personal or pecuniary interest not in common with other members does not actually deprive a member of the right to vote, although the rule does say that members should not vote in such circumstances. In addition to this, while it is easy enough to express general principles that members should not vote if they have a personal or pecuniary interest not in common with other members, or if they have no idea what is going on, it is difficult to write precise rules on these matters which can cover every conceivable circumstance. As a result, it is best to leave such matters up the judgment of each member and trust that members will exercise their rights responsibly.

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2 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

As to the second example, it's not entirely to me whether you're suggesting that the person in question 1) was not, in fact, present at the meeting and therefore did not make the motion (in which case the person can presumably independently confirm this) or if 2) the person did, in fact, make the motion, but should not have since the person was not a member at the time (in which case there is no error to correct, since the minutes are a record of what was done, whether or not it was done properly).

 

The former. It seems your reading stresses the independent confirmation more than mine.

2 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

While one might quibble over the wording, it seems to me that what this rule is getting at is "Don't vote on a controversy over the contents of the minutes if you have no idea which side is accurate," which seems like a perfectly reasonable suggestion, and I think is a good idea regardless of what parliamentary authority the assembly is using. 

 

Fair enough, although perhaps complicated by the fact that no vote is taken on the minutes.

3 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

I concur, however, that RONR's approach to this matter is preferable. For starters, there is the fact that the right to vote is a basic right of membership. Members retain their right to vote in all cases except when their rights are under disciplinary suspension or when their rights are deprived due to a specific provision in the bylaws. Even a personal or pecuniary interest not in common with other members does not actually deprive a member of the right to vote, although the rule does say that members should not vote in such circumstances. In addition to this, while it is easy enough to express general principles that members should not vote if they have a personal or pecuniary interest not in common with other members, or if they have no idea what is going on, it is difficult to write precise rules on these matters which can cover every conceivable circumstance. As a result, it is best to leave such matters up the judgment of each member and trust that members will exercise their rights responsibly.

I agree with all this.

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52 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

I would imagine one can independently confirm that Peter Pan did not fly into the room, and in any event, members can independently confirm the rule that this isn't something which belongs in the minutes unless a main motion was made regarding it.

The rule that has been under discussion is as follows:

"A member who was absent is capable of identifying inaccuracies that can be confirmed independently. However, in the case on a controversy concerning a recorded happening, only those members known to be present at the meeting can participate in a vote to amend to [sic] the minutes of that meeting."

Do I understand you to be saying that you think the first sentence of this rule is describing a circumstance or circumstances which will render inapplicable the rule stated in the second sentence?

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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

The rule that has been under discussion is as follows:

"A member who was absent is capable of identifying inaccuracies that can be confirmed independently. However, in the case on a controversy concerning a recorded happening, only those members known to be present at the meeting can participate in a vote to amend to [sic] the minutes of that meeting."

Do I understand you to be saying that you think the first sentence of this rule is describing a circumstance or circumstances which will render inapplicable the rule stated in the second sentence?

Yes, that is my understanding.

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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Do I understand you to be saying that you think the first sentence of this rule is describing a circumstance or circumstances which will render inapplicable the rule stated in the second sentence?

 

33 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

Yes, that is my understanding.

 

That was my understanding as well when I first read it, but I became convinced that an equally strong (perhaps even stronger) argument can be made that this is not the case. The rule, as quoted, seems clearly to be ambiguous and not at all "explicit" as Dr. Kapur has contended, supported by Mr. Merritt.

But our concern, of course, is with the rules in RONR, and so I probably should not have commented upon it at all.  For this, I apologize.

 

 

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14 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

I would imagine one can independently confirm that Peter Pan did not fly into the room, and in any event, members can independently confirm the rule that this isn't something which belongs in the minutes unless a main motion was made regarding it.

As to the second example, it's not entirely to me whether you're suggesting that the person in question 1) was not, in fact, present at the meeting and therefore did not make the motion (in which case the person can presumably independently confirm this) or if 2) the person did, in fact, make the motion, but should not have since the person was not a member at the time (in which case there is no error to correct, since the minutes are a record of what was done, whether or not it was done properly).

While one might quibble over the wording, it seems to me that what this rule is getting at is "Don't vote on a controversy over the contents of the minutes if you have no idea which side is accurate," which seems like a perfectly reasonable suggestion, and I think is a good idea regardless of what parliamentary authority the assembly is using. 

I concur, however, that RONR's approach to this matter is preferable. For starters, there is the fact that the right to vote is a basic right of membership. Members retain their right to vote in all cases except when their rights are under disciplinary suspension or when their rights are deprived due to a specific provision in the bylaws. Even a personal or pecuniary interest not in common with other members does not actually deprive a member of the right to vote, although the rule does say that members should not vote in such circumstances. In addition to this, while it is easy enough to express general principles that members should not vote if they have a personal or pecuniary interest not in common with other members, or if they have no idea what is going on, it is difficult to write precise rules on these matters which can cover every conceivable circumstance. As a result, it is best to leave such matters up the judgment of each member and trust that members will exercise their rights responsibly.

I join Mr. Katz in agreement with this.

 

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On 3/18/2021 at 9:15 PM, Atul Kapur said:

Kerr and King, for example, state that "A member who was absent is capable of identifying inaccuracies that can be confirmed independently. However, in the case on a controversy concerning a recorded happening, only those members known to be present at the meeting can participate in a vote to amend to [sic] the minutes of that meeting."

 

3 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

So I gather that there is substantial agreement that the rule proffered by Dr. Kapur is not a rule explicitly preventing members who were absent from a meeting from participating in their correction or approval.  

In this rule, there is a rule that does prohibit members not present at a meeting from voting to approve the minutes of that meeting, in some cases.  There is no question in my mind that that the rule is unambiguous.   What is ambiguous, however, is what would constitute "a controversy concerning a recorded happening."  However, once something is determined to be "a controversy concerning a recorded happening," what the rule mandates is clear.

This is similar to situations in RONR to the germaneness of an amendment or to if a motion is dilatory.  There may be, not merely substantial, but near universal agreement that an amendment that is not germane or motion is dilatory should be ruled out of order.  There may be disagreement as to if a particular amendment or motion, respectively, meets that criteria.

The rule described by Dr. Kapur does explicitly prevent members who were absent from a meeting from participating in the approval or correction of the minutes of that meeting in this situation.  The rule itself is clear.  Whether or not the given situation exists is subject to interpretation. 

(I would note that, if RONR was the parliamentary authority, such a rule would have to appear in the bylaws, at it deprives members of the right to vote.)

Edited by J. J.
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17 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

So I gather that there is substantial agreement that the rule proffered by Dr. Kapur is not a rule explicitly preventing members who were absent from a meeting from participating in their correction or approval.  

Dr. Kapur, please take note.  🙂

Oh, I think it is such a rule.  But I substantially agree that it is not a rule in RONR.

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