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MOTIONS/VOTING


NHBIO101
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We had our annual meeting this past weekend and a motion was made to table a motion that was about to be voted on.  It should be noted that a large percentage of members voted absentee and mailed their ballots in prior to the meeting. The motion to table passed by a majority vote from the floor. Once voting concluded and the absentee ballots were opened, it was discovered that the original motion would have passed.  The issue is that those who voted absentee are crying foul since the motion to table negated their vote.  Just looking for some guidance- thank you! 

 

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The motion to "table" was not in order, and the chair should not have admitted it.  What happened is a clear misuse of the subsidiary motion, Lay on the Table, since the purpose for the motion was clear to kill the main motion.  RONR (12th ed.) 17:13-19.

The use of the verb, "table", is confusing and misleading.  In the context of parliamentary law in ordinary societies within the United States, this usage should be dropped.

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Aside from the misuse of “table,” the people crying foul over their votes being “negated” may be off base. Yes, “table” should not have been used. But if the motion on the floor had been properly postponed, that would have been done prior to their absentee votes being counted, also. 
 

In fact, whereas the original motion wasn’t voted upon, why were they counting absentee votes?

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On 9/23/2021 at 4:34 PM, NHBIO101 said:

We had our annual meeting this past weekend and a motion was made to table a motion that was about to be voted on.  It should be noted that a large percentage of members voted absentee and mailed their ballots in prior to the meeting. The motion to table passed by a majority vote from the floor. Once voting concluded and the absentee ballots were opened, it was discovered that the original motion would have passed.  The issue is that those who voted absentee are crying foul since the motion to table negated their vote.  Just looking for some guidance- thank you! 

 

If your rules unwisely allow for absentee voting you are bound to run into all sorts of problems.  Don't look to RONR for a solution, because, as a wise man once said here in this forum, you can't seek shelter under a roof you're tearing down.

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On 9/23/2021 at 3:34 PM, NHBIO101 said:

We had our annual meeting this past weekend and a motion was made to table a motion that was about to be voted on.  It should be noted that a large percentage of members voted absentee and mailed their ballots in prior to the meeting. The motion to table passed by a majority vote from the floor. Once voting concluded and the absentee ballots were opened, it was discovered that the original motion would have passed.  The issue is that those who voted absentee are crying foul since the motion to table negated their vote.  Just looking for some guidance- thank you! 

"An organization should never adopt a bylaw permitting a question to be decided by a voting procedure in which the votes of persons who attend a meeting are counted together with ballots mailed in by absentees. The votes of those present could be affected by debate, by amendment, and perhaps by the need for repeated balloting, while those absent would be unable to adjust their votes to reflect these factors. Consequently, the absentee ballots would in most cases be on a somewhat different question than that on which those present were voting, leading to confusion, unfairness, and inaccuracy in determining the result. If there is a possibility of any uncertainty about who will be entitled to vote, this should be spelled out unambiguously and strictly enforced to avoid unfairness in close votes." RONR (12th ed.) 47:56

So RONR's advice is that that the organization never should have adopted rules which combine absentee votes and in-person votes in the first place and that, in the event the organization unwisely adopts such rules anyway, it should at least think about problems like this one and adopt clear rules describing how such situations are to be resolved. The organization appears to have ignored this advice on both points. Unsurprisingly, this has led to "confusion, unfairness, and inaccuracy in determining the result" and members are quite understandably "crying foul since the motion to table negated their vote."

Since this is well outside the scope of RONR, it will be up to the organization to interpret its own rules and determine how this situation should be resolved. Further, it would be desirable to amend those rules in the future.

I would also question whether it is known for certain that "the original motion would have passed." This determination was presumably made based upon the absentee votes. But the votes of the persons present at the meeting were (presumably) never taken on the original motion since the motion was (incorrectly) laid on the table prior to the original motion being voted on. So unless the margin of adoption exceeded the number of members present, I don't think it can be conclusively said that "the original motion would have passed."

Edited by Josh Martin
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