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Non-Hybrid Electronic Meetings


Weldon Merritt
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RONR (12th ed.) 9:31 defines "electronic meetings" as those "at which, rather than all participating members being physically present in one room or area ..., some or all of them communicate with the others through electronic means ...." As I read that definition, it seems to me that what many of us have been calling “hybrid meetings” are, in fact, electronic meetings even if only one or two members are participating electronically. So if a society’s bylaws authorize electronic meetings, without qualification, it seems to me that “hybrid meetings” automatically are authorized.

Suppose that for whatever reason, a society wants to make sure that the participants are either all present in person, or all participating electronically. I believe that a society would have the right to do so. But my question is, would such a rule need to be in the bylaws provision authorizing electronic meetings, or could the bylaws simply authorize electronic meetings, with the requirement that all electronic meeting participants participate electronically being in a special rule of order?

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On 9/13/2021 at 2:58 PM, J. J. said:

What would prevent the members in the room from engaging electronically? 

Nothing, if it indeed is an electronic meeting. But that's not quite the issue. I want to know how to make sure that members must participate electronically.

On 9/13/2021 at 2:58 PM, J. J. said:

I think a special rule "The meeting shall be conducted via Zoom," would be possible.

Yes, I think so. Even better might be "The meeting shall be conducted solely via Zoom." But my main question is would that provision have to be in the bylaws, or would a special rule of order suffice (so long as the bylaws authorize electronic meetings).

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On 9/13/2021 at 3:53 PM, Weldon Merritt said:

Suppose that for whatever reason, a society wants to make sure that the participants are either all present in person, or all participating electronically. I believe that a society would have the right to do so. But my question is, would such a rule need to be in the bylaws provision authorizing electronic meetings, or could the bylaws simply authorize electronic meetings, with the requirement that all electronic meeting participants participate electronically being in a special rule of order?

You may have noticed that in the Sample Rules for Electronic Meetings in RONR, the sample bylaw provisions don't just say "Electronic meetings are authorized" but provide language with enough latitude for the adoption of further rules with additional requirements for participating, and those further rules do not need to be in the bylaws.

Looking at the sample rules for "Scenario A" in RONR (12th ed.) pp. 638-639, it seems to me that the bylaws do not authorize "hybrid meetings".

But if they are interpreted as allowing hybrid meetings, I think they also clearly authorize the adoption of sample rule 3 on page 639, which requires members to maintain internet access to an electronic meeting.

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