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Postpone Indefinitely regarding a non ballot election


J. J.
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A society elects one member, classed as an officer,  of the board of directors per year at its annual meeting.  No ballot is required by the bylaws.  The society meets once a year, but a special meeting can be called by the board.

Three candidates run for the board, but none receive a majority, because all three are despised by the membership; on a voice vote, no candidate receives even one third of the vote.  Nominations have been reopened, but no one else will run.  Some members, a majority,  hope that another candidate, that can muster a majority. might be persuaded to run at some point prior to the next annual meeting.  Can the assembly adopt Postpone Indefinitively in regard to the election?  Why or why not?

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The author's suggestion at 46:44 seems to be a pretty good one. Whether postponed indefinitely or not at some point someone will need to move to adjourn. Perhaps a day or two to cool down and do some "horse trading" will get things back on track.

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17 hours ago, J. J. said:

A society elects one member, classed as an officer,  of the board of directors per year at its annual meeting.  No ballot is required by the bylaws.  The society meets once a year, but a special meeting can be called by the board.

Three candidates run for the board, but none receive a majority, because all three are despised by the membership; on a voice vote, no candidate receives even one third of the vote.  Nominations have been reopened, but no one else will run.  Some members, a majority,  hope that another candidate, that can muster a majority. might be persuaded to run at some point prior to the next annual meeting.  Can the assembly adopt Postpone Indefinitively in regard to the election?  Why or why not?

No, the motion to Postpone Indefinitely is not in order for an election of officers. The motion to Postpone Indefinitely is used to kill a main motion without a direct vote. This is not in order for an election of officers, since the society is required to elect someone.

As I understand the facts, the assembly intends to complete the election, but is unwilling to do so at the present time and does not currently know when it will be able to complete it. Therefore, it would seem to me the appropriate course of action is to establish an adjourned meeting to meet at the call of the chair, and then postpone the election to that meeting (or simply adjourn, if all other business for the annual meeting is complete).

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16 hours ago, J. J. said:

A society elects one member, classed as an officer,  of the board of directors per year at its annual meeting.  No ballot is required by the bylaws.  The society meets once a year, but a special meeting can be called by the board.

Three candidates run for the board, but none receive a majority, because all three are despised by the membership; on a voice vote, no candidate receives even one third of the vote.  Nominations have been reopened, but no one else will run.  Some members, a majority,  hope that another candidate, that can muster a majority. might be persuaded to run at some point prior to the next annual meeting.  Can the assembly adopt Postpone Indefinitively in regard to the election?  Why or why not?

A motion to postpone this election will be in order, either to some point later on in the same meeting or to an adjournment thereof (42:12, 46:44), but it will not be in order to move that it be indefinitely postponed. Postpone Indefinitely can be applied only to a main motion that is immediately pending, and this election is not an immediately pending main motion. 

In 46:1, RONR tells us that "[a] nomination is, in effect, a proposal to fill the blank in an assumed motion “that _________  be elected” to the specified position", but, of course, in this instance no such assumed motion will ever be immediately pending. No vote will ever be taken on it. The only votes that will be taken are votes on suggestions to fill the blank, and these suggestions are not main motions.

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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

 

In 46:1, RONR tells us that "[a] nomination is, in effect, a proposal to fill the blank in an assumed motion “that _________  be elected” to the specified position", but, of course, in this instance no such assumed motion will ever be immediately pending. No vote will ever be taken on it. The only votes that will be taken are votes on suggestions to fill the blank, and these suggestions are not main motions.

Since there is an assumed motion, can it be raised against the assumed motion.  I will agree that, and did not phrase the question to permit the possibility of, Postpone Indefinitely could not be raised against the any nomination. 

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5 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

No, the motion to Postpone Indefinitely is not in order for an election of officers. The motion to Postpone Indefinitely is used to kill a main motion without a direct vote. This is not in order for an election of officers, since the society is required to elect someone.

 

I do not agree that this is the effect of Postpone Indefinitely is to kill a main motion without a direct vote.  It is to kill a main motion, for the remainder of the session without a direct vote.  Adjourning the meeting would have the same effect.

That was one of the things I considered before asking the question. 

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16 minutes ago, J. J. said:

Since there is an assumed motion, can it be raised against the assumed motion

This question has been answered. No such "assumed motion" will ever be immediately pending, and Postpone Indefinitely can only be applied to an immediately pending main motion. No vote can or ever will be taken on this "assumed motion."

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16 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

This question has been answered. No such "assumed motion" will ever be immediately pending, and Postpone Indefinitely can only be applied to an immediately pending main motion. No vote can or ever will be taken on this "assumed motion."

I do not understand this about you claim.  The assembly just voted on each choice, and rejected each choice.  What motion is then pending?  That is not a rhetorical question. 

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9 minutes ago, J. J. said:

So then how an election, when pending, be subject to Postpone Definitely? 

That is where I am running into the problem that no motion is pending. 

I don't have a firm answer, by the way. 

There is no problem.  It's just never going to be in order for an election when the election is pending. As Dan noted:

2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

No such "assumed motion" will ever be immediately pending, and Postpone Indefinitely can only be applied to an immediately pending main motion.

 

Edited by George Mervosh
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21 minutes ago, J. J. said:

So then how an election, when pending, be subject to Postpone Definitely? 

That is where I am running into the problem that no motion is pending. 

The same way that a committee report can be postponed.

 

21 minutes ago, J. J. said:

I don't have a firm answer, by the way.

Sure you do. The answer to your question is no, the assembly cannot properly adopt a motion to indefinitely postpone the election. Both of the The second and third original responses said this. 

Edited by Daniel H. Honemann
Forgot about Zev's.
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7 minutes ago, George Mervosh said:

There is no problem.  It's just never going to be in order for an election when the election is pending. As Dan noted:

 

 

 

2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

This question has been answered. No such "assumed motion" will ever be immediately pending, and Postpone Indefinitely can only be applied to an immediately pending main motion. No vote can or ever will be taken on this "assumed motion."

Okay, the chair assumes the motion "to buy the secretary a new desk."  After debate, but without any secondary motion being made, someone moves to Postpone Indefinitely.  That would be be in order, clearly. 

The election is the pending business, but it is "in effect" "an assumed motion 'that ___ be elected' to a specific position (46:1)."  Once it is clear that the assembly will not fill the blank, with any choice.  I do not see any type of distinction between this and a plain vanilla assumed motion in text. 

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58 minutes ago, J. J. said:

Okay, the chair assumes the motion "to buy the secretary a new desk."  After debate, but without any secondary motion being made, someone moves to Postpone Indefinitely.  That would be be in order, clearly. 

The election is the pending business, but it is "in effect" "an assumed motion 'that ___ be elected' to a specific position (46:1)."  Once it is clear that the assembly will not fill the blank, with any choice.  I do not see any type of distinction between this and a plain vanilla assumed motion in text. 

The bylaws require that officers be chosen.  A motion that has the effect of killing the election conflicts with the bylaws, and is not in order.

The bylaws do not (presumably) require the assembly to provide desks to officers.

Edited by Gary Novosielski
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9 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

The bylaws require that officers be chosen.  A motion that has the effect of killing the election conflicts with the bylaws, and is not in order.

The bylaws do not (presumably) require the assembly to provide desks to officers.

 

Postpone Indefinitely does not, however, kill the question overall.  If adopted, "The effect of postponing a question indefinitely is to suppress it throughout the current session (11:3)."  Postponing the election to the next meeting, if held within the quarterly time interval, will have exactly the same effect.  Adopting a motion to adjourn will have exactly the same effect on the election.  Adopting a motion to postpone consideration of the election until 4:00 PM and adjourning at 3:00 PM will have exactly the same effect.   Likewise, applying a motion to postpone indefinitely to the motion "to buy the secretary a new desk" will have exactly the same effect on that motion. 

Let us face it, if the assembly chooses not to elect at this meeting, they can do so within the rules, even without resorting to Postpone Indefinitely. 

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1 hour ago, J. J. said:

Postpone Indefinitely does not, however, kill the question overall.

It kills the question just the same as if it were voted on and rejected. And as Mr. Martin pointed out, this "is not in order for an election of officers, since the society is required to elect someone."

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

It kills the question just the same as if it were voted on and rejected. And as Mr. Martin pointed out, this "is not in order for an election of officers, since the society is required to elect someone."

For that session.  In that respect, it is identical to postponing the election when pending and adjourning before reaching the election, which is in order.

If we were talking about an assembly that did meet at least quarterly, it would have exactly the same effect as postponing the matter.

The society cannot, as a practical matter, and possibly as a matter of right, cannot be compelled to elect someone. 

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5 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Indeed.  Therefore, the fact that Postpone Indefinitely is not in order will present little hardship.

However, if Postpone Indefinitely can be ruled out of order on the sole ground that it will prevent the election from happening in that session, why wouldn't Adjourn be out of order for the same reason?  In the circumstance, there are several motions that have the effect of suppressing the election during that session, if legitimately used.  Adjourning immediately, postponing the motion for future time that day and then adjourning.  Presumably, the election could be sent to a committee instructed to report back at the next meeting.  All of those things would suppress the election for that session, yet they appear to be in order.  All have the same effect, in the circumstance, as postponing the question indefinitely.

I am trying to find a legitimate reason for ruling Postpone Indefinitely out of order in the circumstance, and a claim that the election must be completed within the same session does not hold up. 

 

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11 hours ago, J. J. said:

For that session.  In that respect, it is identical to postponing the election when pending and adjourning before reaching the election, which is in order.

If we were talking about an assembly that did meet at least quarterly, it would have exactly the same effect as postponing the matter.

The society cannot, as a practical matter, and possibly as a matter of right, cannot be compelled to elect someone. 

Even supposing the assembly meets at least quarterly, the motion to Postpone Indefinitely does not have "exactly the same effect as postponing the matter." It also does not have the same effect as adjourning a meeting with the motion pending.

If a main motion is postponed indefinitely, the effect is that the motion is killed and that it may not be reintroduced for the duration of the current session. The motion may be (but need not be) made at a future session. Unless a member makes the motion again, however, the motion will never come before the assembly again. It is "dead" unless and until it is reintroduced.

If a main motion is postponed definitely to the next meeting, the effect is that the motion is made an order of the day for that meeting. Generally, it is made a general order without a specified time, and is taken up under General Orders in the appropriate order. The motion can also specify that it be made an order of the day for a particular time, or that it be made a special order, which requires a 2/3 vote. (As an aside, I am curious as to what the rules are for this in the case that an item is already a special rule of order, as is the case for an election of officers. I could see a reading that only a majority vote is required to continue the item as a special order in this case, since the rule provides that a 2/3 vote is required to make an item a special order, and the item is not being "made" a special order because it already is a special order.)

If a meeting adjourns when an ordinary main motion is pending, the motion automatically becomes Unfinished Business for the next meeting, unless the item is a special order, in which case it automatically becomes a Special Order for the next meeting.

In both the second and third cases described above, the situation is that the item will come before the assembly again at the appointed time, unless some other action by the assembly intervenes to prevent this (such as adjourning the meeting before the item is reached, or postponing the item before it is reached, although the latter is not an option for an election of officers). Conversely, in the first case described above, the situation is that the item will not come before the assembly again, unless some action is taken by the assembly to bring it before the assembly again.

12 minutes ago, J. J. said:

However, if Postpone Indefinitely can be ruled out of order on the sole ground that it will prevent the election from happening in that session, why wouldn't Adjourn be out of order for the same reason?  In the circumstance, there are several motions that have the effect of suppressing the election during that session, if legitimately used.  Adjourning immediately, postponing the motion for future time that day and then adjourning.  Presumably, the election could be sent to a committee instructed to report back at the next meeting.  All of those things would suppress the election for that session, yet they appear to be in order.  All have the same effect, in the circumstance, as postponing the question indefinitely.

I disagree that the motion to Refer is in order for an election of officers. I think the assembly could postpone the election and that a committee (presumably the nominating committee, or a special committee appointed for this purpose if there is no nominating committee) could be instructed to report additional nominations, but I do not believe that the election itself can be referred to a committee.

I concur that the other motions are in order and that they have the same effect with respect to what happens in the current session, but they differ in respect to what happens at the next session.

13 minutes ago, J. J. said:

I am trying to find a legitimate reason for ruling Postpone Indefinitely out of order in the circumstance, and a claim that the election must be completed within the same session does not hold up. 

No one is claiming that the assembly is forced to complete the election at the same session. I think the difference is that adjournment or Postpone Definitely provides for the continuation of the election at a future session, while Postpone Indefinitely does not do so.

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5 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

Even supposing the assembly meets at least quarterly, the motion to Postpone Indefinitely does not have "exactly the same effect as postponing the matter." It also does not have the same effect as adjourning a meeting with the motion pending.

 

If a main motion is postponed definitely to the next meeting, the effect is that the motion is made an order of the day for that meeting. Generally, it is made a general order without a specified time, and is taken up under General Orders in the appropriate order. The motion can also specify that it be made an order of the day for a particular time, or that it be made a special order, which requires a 2/3 vote. (As an aside, I am curious as to what the rules are for this in the case that an item is already a special rule of order, as is the case for an election of officers. I could see a reading that only a majority vote is required to continue the item as a special order in this case, since the rule provides that a 2/3 vote is required to make an item a special order, and the item is not being "made" a special order because it already is a special order.)

Since the election has not been completed, why would this not still be considered a special order at the next meeting, unless somehow the election was created a regular order.  This would be in the case of the society is meeting at least quarterly.

This might be be where we differ.  If an election required by the bylaws did not take place, and there was no other arrangement made, I view the election remain a  special order for the next meeting.  Even if the election was Postponed Indefinitely, I see the election as special order created by the bylaws.  In meetings held at least as quarterly, Postpone Indefinitely would not change its status from being a special order.

In other words, the chair would just announce that the election is pending. 

 

5 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

I disagree that the motion to Refer is in order for an election of officers. I think the assembly could postpone the election and that a committee (presumably the nominating committee, or a special committee appointed for this purpose if there is no nominating committee) could be instructed to report additional nominations, but I do not believe that the election itself can be referred to a committee.

 

I don't see anything in text that even implies that an election could not be committed, when pending, even with nominations pending. 

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10 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

It's time to give this up, J.J.

No one who knows much at all about the rules in RONR is going to say anything other than that the answer to the question you asked is "no." Maybe not even any other so-called "credentialed" parliamentarian.  🙂

Sometimes, it has to be more than a yes or no answer.  Sometimes, it is more important to know how the rule works, than what the answer is. 

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