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46:32n1 Musings


Tim Wynn
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Does what is said in 46:32n1 apply to the election of members of committees as well, or is there some esoteric meaning to be gleaned from its attachment to the sentence, "When repeated balloting for an office is necessary, individuals are never removed from candidacy on the next ballot unless they voluntarily withdraw—which they are not obligated to do"? Would the meaning remain the same if the words "for an office" were stricken?
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On 5/4/2022 at 8:09 PM, Tim Wynn said:
Does what is said in 46:32n1 apply to the election of members of committees as well, or is there some esoteric meaning to be gleaned from its attachment to the sentence, "When repeated balloting for an office is necessary, individuals are never removed from candidacy on the next ballot unless they voluntarily withdraw—which they are not obligated to do"? Would the meaning remain the same if the words "for an office" were stricken?

I can think of no reason why what is said in this footnote would not apply to a ballot election of committee members.  I'm afraid, however, that you may have some situation in mind that has not occurred to me. If so, then out with it.  🙂

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On 5/4/2022 at 8:09 PM, Tim Wynn said:
Does what is said in 46:32n1 apply to the election of members of committees as well, or is there some esoteric meaning to be gleaned from its attachment to the sentence, "When repeated balloting for an office is necessary, individuals are never removed from candidacy on the next ballot unless they voluntarily withdraw—which they are not obligated to do"? Would the meaning remain the same if the words "for an office" were stricken?

If the question is whether the election process varies whether the election is to a committee or to some office other than a committee membership, I think not.  If it did, then where are we to find this alternative procedure?  Does election to a committee not require a majority?  Are repeated ballots not required?  Are candidates dropped somehow? 

I think if you were able to read the first sentence above without snagging on the use of the word "office", then you already believe that the word includes membership on a committee.

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On 5/5/2022 at 10:36 AM, Gary Novosielski said:

If the question is whether the election process varies whether the election is to a committee or to some office other than a committee membership, I think not.  If it did, then where are we to find this alternative procedure?  Does election to a committee not require a majority?  Are repeated ballots not required?  Are candidates dropped somehow? 

I think if you were able to read the first sentence above without snagging on the use of the word "office", then you already believe that the word includes membership on a committee.

Provisions for all of this are found in 50:13(a) and 46:33-34.  It may be of interest to note that 46:35 also refers to "officers", although what is said in 46:35 certainly applies to any election which the bylaws require to be by ballot.

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On 5/5/2022 at 12:22 PM, Dan Honemann said:

It may be of interest to note that 46:35 also refers to "officers", although what is said in 46:35 certainly applies to any election which the bylaws require to be by ballot.

I have seen others interpret this differently, drawing specific meaning to the use of the word "officer" and interpreting it as a limitation of the effect of this rule. I understand that to also be the crux of Mr. Wynn's original question, regarding 46:32n1.

On 5/4/2022 at 8:09 PM, Tim Wynn said:

Would the meaning remain the same if the words "for an office" were stricken?

which, reworded, appears to ask if committee members are to be considered "officers," either for the purposes of this note or more generally.

I note that 46:1 also appears to draw a distinction as it refers to "an office or other elective position in a society or assembly."

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On 5/5/2022 at 1:17 PM, Atul Kapur said:

I have seen others interpret this differently, drawing specific meaning to the use of the word "officer" and interpreting it as a limitation of the effect of this rule. I understand that to also be the crux of Mr. Wynn's original question, regarding 46:32n1.

These "others" must be ignoring what is said in 10:55, 45:20, 46:23, 46:37, 46:40-41, and heaven only knows what else.

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On 5/5/2022 at 10:34 AM, Dan Honemann said:

I can think of no reason why what is said in this footnote would not apply to a ballot election of committee members.  I'm afraid, however, that you may have some situation in mind that has not occurred to me. If so, then out with it.  🙂

I have no such situation in mind. I had asked because I was serving in a meeting recently where I advised the assembly that this footnote DID apply to the pending election of members to a committee (a strange, familiar voice in my head whispered, "Is that what Honemann would say?").  

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On 5/5/2022 at 10:36 AM, Gary Novosielski said:

I think if you were able to read the first sentence above without snagging on the use of the word "office", then you already believe that the word includes membership on a committee.

I do not believe the word "office" or the word "officer" includes a position on a committee or an individual serving on a committee.

 

On 5/5/2022 at 1:17 PM, Atul Kapur said:

which, reworded, appears to ask if committee members are to be considered "officers," either for the purposes of this note or more generally.

See above.

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On 5/5/2022 at 10:36 AM, Gary Novosielski said:

If the question is whether the election process varies whether the election is to a committee or to some office other than a committee membership, I think not.  If it did, then where are we to find this alternative procedure?  Does election to a committee not require a majority?  Are repeated ballots not required?  Are candidates dropped somehow? 

"Under this procedure, nominations for committee membership can be made by any of the methods described in 46; then the nominees are voted on by ballot just as in an election of a board, a majority vote being necessary to elect." - RONR (12th ed.) 50:13. This covers all of those details quite nicely. My post related only to the footnote, which deals with suspending the rules, adopting a special rule of order, and the requirement of a bylaw provision to render a dropped nominee ineligible for election.

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On 5/5/2022 at 10:34 AM, Dan Honemann said:

I can think of no reason why what is said in this footnote would not apply to a ballot election of committee members.  I'm afraid, however, that you may have some situation in mind that has not occurred to me. If so, then out with it.  🙂

I believe that distinction was made by William J. Evans between officers positions and committee positions in Parliamentary Opinions Q 178.  That was in regard to the 7th edition and not in regard to dropping, but the distinction was made. 

Absent Dr. Kapur's wording, or removing the words "for an office," I would draw the distinction. 

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On 5/16/2022 at 9:02 AM, J. J. said:

I believe that distinction was made by William J. Evans between officers positions and committee positions in Parliamentary Opinions Q 178.  That was in regard to the 7th edition and not in regard to dropping, but the distinction was made. 

Absent Dr. Kapur's wording, or removing the words "for an office," I would draw the distinction. 

There is no doubt but that a special rule of order can be adopted providing for election of committee members by plurality vote, although a bylaw provision is required in order to permit election of officers by such a vote. 

However, this does not lead me to conclude that a similar distinction can be drawn between eligibility requirements for holding office and eligibility requirements for committee membership, especially in a situation such as that described in 46:32n1.  

But Tim Wynn isn't prone to ask questions when the answer is easily apparent.

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On 5/16/2022 at 8:02 AM, J. J. said:

I believe that distinction was made by William J. Evans between officers positions and committee positions in Parliamentary Opinions Q 178.  That was in regard to the 7th edition and not in regard to dropping, but the distinction was made. 

Absent Dr. Kapur's wording, or removing the words "for an office," I would draw the distinction. 

JJ, I don't see where William Evans took part in that parliamentary opinion about the difference between officer positions and committee positions.  That parliamentary opinion appears to be a discussion between Dr. Darwin Patnode and Henry M. Robert III in which Mr. Robert opines, in response to a question from Dr. Patnode, that the rule requiring officers to be elected by majority vote unless the bylaws provide otherwise also applies to members being elected to committees. Any exception must be in the bylaws. 

Can you help us out here with a quote or reference or link to the statement by Mr. Evans on the issue?  It does not appear on Parliamentary Opinion Q 178. 

Also, just to be clear, are you saying that as written section 46:32 and footnote 1 are referring only to elections of officers but not to elections to committees?

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On 5/4/2022 at 7:09 PM, Tim Wynn said:
Does what is said in 46:32n1 apply to the election of members of committees as well, or is there some esoteric meaning to be gleaned from its attachment to the sentence, "When repeated balloting for an office is necessary, individuals are never removed from candidacy on the next ballot unless they voluntarily withdraw—which they are not obligated to do"? Would the meaning remain the same if the words "for an office" were stricken?

I am generally a stickler for the proposition that "words mean things" and statements should be construed as saying what they mean and meaning what they say.  But, I did say I am "generally" a stickler for that proposition.

In this case, if the provision at issue in §46:32 is to also apply to the election of non-officers, I would much prefer that it said "when repeated balloting for a position is necessary . . . ."   I believe Dr. Kapur commented on that as well.  But, it says "for an office" rather than "for a position", so we are stuck with what it says.  However, as Mr. Honemann has pointed out, other provisions in RONR seem to make it pretty plain that the provision also applies to the election of non-officers, such as to a committee or to a board of directors in which some of the directors and not classified as officers.  Also, as Mr. Novosielski pointed out, RONR provides no separate rule for the election non-officers such as committee members.  That is additional evidence that rule 46:32 and the accompanying footnote apply to the election of both officers and non-officers.

So, to answer Mr. Winn's question, my conclusion is that 46:32n1 does apply to the election of members of a committee.

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On 5/4/2022 at 8:09 PM, Tim Wynn said:
Does what is said in 46:32n1 apply to the election of members of committees as well, or is there some esoteric meaning to be gleaned from its attachment to the sentence, "When repeated balloting for an office is necessary, individuals are never removed from candidacy on the next ballot unless they voluntarily withdraw—which they are not obligated to do"? Would the meaning remain the same if the words "for an office" were stricken?

 

On 5/5/2022 at 10:34 AM, Dan Honemann said:

I can think of no reason why what is said in this footnote would not apply to a ballot election of committee members.  I'm afraid, however, that you may have some situation in mind that has not occurred to me. If so, then out with it.  🙂

If I recall correctly, this footnote was not intended to introduce any new rule, but rather to state the consequences of the existing rules, including the rule in 46:2 that states members are always free to vote on a ballot for any eligible person.

RONR itself has no rule stating that low-ranking candidates are removed from a ballot on subsequent rounds when electing a committee, so I don't see how a different rule than what is said in the footnote could apply.

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Although I suppose that arguments could plausibly be made, if the position is not an office or is not defined in the bylaws (two separate arguments here), that a special rule of order would be sufficient to permit votes cast for someone who is no longer a nominee to be counted as illegal votes, overriding the rule in 46:2.

I'm not saying I agree with such arguments, just that they may be plausible.

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On 5/16/2022 at 1:59 PM, Richard Brown said:

JJ, I don't see where William Evans took part in that parliamentary opinion about the difference between officer positions and committee positions.  That parliamentary opinion appears to be a discussion between Dr. Darwin Patnode and Henry M. Robert III in which Mr. Robert opines, in response to a question from Dr. Patnode, that the rule requiring officers to be elected by majority vote unless the bylaws provide otherwise also applies to members being elected to committees. Any exception must be in the bylaws. 

Can you help us out here with a quote or reference or link to the statement by Mr. Evans on the issue?  It does not appear on Parliamentary Opinion Q 178. 

Also, just to be clear, are you saying that as written section 46:32 and footnote 1 are referring only to elections of officers but not to elections to committees?

He was on the committee at that point. 

 

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On 5/16/2022 at 3:56 PM, Shmuel Gerber said:

Although I suppose that arguments could plausibly be made, if the position is not an office or is not defined in the bylaws (two separate arguments here), that a special rule of order would be sufficient to permit votes cast for someone who is no longer a nominee to be counted as illegal votes, overriding the rule in 46:2.

I'm not saying I agree with such arguments, just that they may be plausible.

The last sentence of the footnote in question reads as follows:

"Only a bylaws provision, however, could make the dropped nominee ineligible for election so as to render illegal any subsequent votes cast for that nominee." 

It seems to me that any rule designed to make a dropped nominee ineligible for election, no matter how worded, will be, at its core, a rule creating an eligibility requirement rather than a special rule of order concerning the vote required for election.

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On 5/16/2022 at 1:59 PM, Richard Brown said:

Also, just to be clear, are you saying that as written section 46:32 and footnote 1 are referring only to elections of officers but not to elections to committees?

The way it is written 46:32 applies to an "office," which would be defined in the bylaws.  I do not believe it would apply to a committee or other non-officer position. 

I think that a special rule discounting votes for a dropped nominee for a committee position is effectively authorizing plurality voting.  You have A, B, and C running for a committee position.  On the first ballot, A gets 50, B 45, and C 5.  C is dropped by rule and rule prohibits votes credited for a dropped candidate.  You get the same result.  A with 50 votes is declared elected.  How is that different than a rule saying that a plurality shall elect? 

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On 5/21/2022 at 9:35 AM, J. J. said:

I think that a special rule discounting votes for a dropped nominee for a committee position is effectively authorizing plurality voting

That is only true if C's supporters refuse to participate (abstain) or vote for C again instead of transferring their vote to A or B.

I believe that the closer comparison is with a preferential ballot, rather than a plurality. The two systems only equate (i.e., preferential collapses down to plurality) if each voter only ranks one candidate.

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On 5/21/2022 at 5:16 PM, Atul Kapur said:

 

That is only true if C's supporters refuse to participate (abstain) or vote for C again instead of transferring their vote to A or B.

I believe that the closer comparison is with a preferential ballot, rather than a plurality. The two systems only equate (i.e., preferential collapses down to plurality) if each voter only ranks one candidate.

It might be, but the same issue would remain.  At least in relation to votes for committee members, it would not be a case of disqualifying those votes. 

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On 5/21/2022 at 9:35 AM, J. J. said:

The way it is written 46:32 applies to an "office," which would be defined in the bylaws.  I do not believe it would apply to a committee or other non-officer position. 

I think that a special rule discounting votes for a dropped nominee for a committee position is effectively authorizing plurality voting.  You have A, B, and C running for a committee position.  On the first ballot, A gets 50, B 45, and C 5.  C is dropped by rule and rule prohibits votes credited for a dropped candidate.  You get the same result.  A with 50 votes is declared elected.  How is that different than a rule saying that a plurality shall elect? 

No, it is not the same at all. 

You posit a very simplistic situation -- a ballot vote being taken in which 3 candidates are running for a single open committee seat. On the first ballot, A gets 50, B 45, and C 5.  If the rules require only a plurality vote (which they might do), the chair will declare A elected, and that will be the end of it.

However, if (as the footnote indicates) the rule is one which requires that the nominee with the fewest votes be dropped from the list of nominees, this means that C will be dropped from the list of nominees, and a second round of balloting will take place with A and B as the nominees.  The last sentence of the footnote tells us that only a bylaws provision can make C ineligible for write-in votes so as to render illegal any subsequent votes cast for him, and as I have said, I think this rule applies regardless of whether this is an election of an officer or a committee member. 

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On 5/22/2022 at 6:45 AM, Dan Honemann said:

No, it is not the same at all. 

You posit a very simplistic situation -- a ballot vote being taken in which 3 candidates are running for a single open committee seat. On the first ballot, A gets 50, B 45, and C 5.  If the rules require only a plurality vote (which they might do), the chair will declare A elected, and that will be the end of it.

However, if (as the footnote indicates) the rule is one which requires that the nominee with the fewest votes be dropped from the list of nominees, this means that C will be dropped from the list of nominees, and a second round of balloting will take place with A and B as the nominees.  The last sentence of the footnote tells us that only a bylaws provision can make C ineligible for write-in votes so as to render illegal any subsequent votes cast for him, and as I have said, I think this rule applies regardless of whether this is an election of an officer or a committee member. 

Then perhaps the word "office" should be removed for a broader term. 

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On 5/22/2022 at 7:07 PM, J. J. said:

Then perhaps the word "office" should be removed for a broader term. 

The word "office" doesn't appear in the footnote. If you are referring to the several places where that word appears in 46:32, I think you may be giving it too restrictive a meaning.

For example, how would you define the word "office" where it appears in 44:11?

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On 5/21/2022 at 9:35 AM, J. J. said:

The way it is written 46:32 applies to an "office," which would be defined in the bylaws.  I do not believe it would apply to a committee or other non-officer position. 

I think that a special rule discounting votes for a dropped nominee for a committee position is effectively authorizing plurality voting.  You have A, B, and C running for a committee position.  On the first ballot, A gets 50, B 45, and C 5.  C is dropped by rule and rule prohibits votes credited for a dropped candidate.  You get the same result.  A with 50 votes is declared elected.  How is that different than a rule saying that a plurality shall elect? 

No, illegal votes (for an ineligible candidate) are still counted as ballots cast, The 5 illegal votes for C would still require a tally of 51 votes to elect.

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