Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums

Revisiting and suspending the rules for votes that have already been taken


Guest A.J. Matthews
 Share

Recommended Posts

After a vote has been taken (membership) and the matter settled, can the matter be revisited, where the rules would be suspended to permit a change in the outcome?  Wouldn't such a move constitute an ex post facto rule to change the outcome?

Please cite specific references.  Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/3/2022 at 7:09 AM, Guest A.J. Matthews said:

After a vote has been taken (membership) and the matter settled, can the matter be revisited, where the rules would be suspended to permit a change in the outcome?

Generally, yes, a matter may be revisited. The specific manner in which this is done will depend on the situation, particularly how much time has passed since the original motion (whether it is the same meeting or a later meeting) and whether the original motion was adopted or defeated. There are also certain limited circumstances in which revisiting a motion is not in order.

As to the second part of the question about "where the rules would be suspended to permit a change in the outcome," I am not entirely certain what this refers to. Once again, rules may generally be suspended, but there are exceptions.

I think additional facts regarding the situation would be extremely helpful.

On 10/3/2022 at 7:09 AM, Guest A.J. Matthews said:

Wouldn't such a move constitute an ex post facto rule to change the outcome?

"Ex post facto" is a legal term, not a parliamentary one, which refers to a decision "having retroactive effect or force." Given the very limited facts available, I do not have the slightest idea whether the proposed motion would have (or attempt to have) such an effect.

Generally speaking (and this is perhaps an understatement), revisiting a motion or suspending the rules will not have retroactive effect, and motions attempting to have a retroactive effect will not be in order. But people often use the term "retroactive" in different ways, so it would be helpful to know more about the situation and how you are using this term.

On 10/3/2022 at 7:09 AM, Guest A.J. Matthews said:

Please cite specific references.

The first question is much too vague to really cite specific references, but generally, see RONR (12th ed.) Sections 35, 37, and 38 concerning the topic of revisiting motions, and Section 25 regarding the topic of suspending the rules. If you can provide additional facts about the situation, then I might be able to provide more specific references.

In regard to the question regarding retroactive effect, these citations may be of assistance.

"The motions to Rescind and to Amend Something Previously Adopted are not in order under the following circumstances:

...

b) When something has been done, as a result of the vote on the main motion, that is impossible to undo. (The unexecuted part of an order, however, can be rescinded or amended.)" RONR (12th ed.) 35:6

"The motion to Reconsider:

2. Can be applied to the vote on any motion except:

...

e) any vote which has caused something to be done that it is impossible to undo;" RONR (12th ed.) 37:9

Edited by Josh Martin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Josh Martin, thank you for your response.

To provide additional information, the organization's by-laws call for the election of new members by secret ballot, by a majority of the board of directors. However, the by-laws also call for a proposed member to be rejected if ten or more negative votes were received (black ball).  I have learned that there may be an attempt to suspend the rules (membership could have suspended the rules before the original vote was taken to suppress the rule involving the ten negative votes by didn't) at the coming meeting in an effort to change the outcome of the original vote on the proposed member.  I might add that the organization's by-laws state that after such a negative outcome the individual involved in the failed bid for membership cannot re-apply for one year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/3/2022 at 7:38 AM, Guest A.J. Matthews said:

To provide additional information, the organization's by-laws call for the election of new members by secret ballot, by a majority of the board of directors. However, the by-laws also call for a proposed member to be rejected if ten or more negative votes were received (black ball).  I have learned that there may be an attempt to suspend the rules (membership could have suspended the rules before the original vote was taken to suppress the rule involving the ten negative votes by didn't) at the coming meeting in an effort to change the outcome of the original vote on the proposed member.  I might add that the organization's by-laws state that after such a negative outcome the individual involved in the failed bid for membership cannot re-apply for one year.

Thank you. Based upon these additional facts, in my view, it is not in order to suspend the rules so as to "retroactively" admit this member. It is also not in order to suspend the one year waiting period rule in the bylaws.

"Rules that have their application outside of the session which is in progress cannot be suspended." RONR (12th ed.) 25:13

"Rules contained in the bylaws (or constitution) cannot be suspended—no matter how large the vote in favor of doing so or how inconvenient the rule in question may be—unless the particular rule specifically provides for its own suspension, or unless the rule properly is in the nature of a rule of order as described in 2:14." RONR (12th ed.) 25:7

In addition, the motions to Rescind and Reconsider are not in order in these circumstances. The motion to Rescind cannot be applied to a motion which was defeated, and the time limits for Reconsider have passed.

"The motions to Rescind and to Amend Something Previously Adopted:

...

2. Can be applied to anything (e.g., bylaw, rule, policy, decision, or choice) which has continuing force and effect and which was made or created at any time or times as the result of the adoption of one or more main motions." RONR (12th ed.) 25:2, emphasis in original

"The making of this motion is subject to time limits, as follows: In a session of one day—such as an ordinary meeting of a club or a one-day convention—the motion to Reconsider can be made only on the same day the vote to be reconsidered was taken." RONR (12th ed.) 37:10

Generally, the proper procedure in this case would be for members to "renew" the motion (make it again) at a future meeting, however, your bylaws apparently prohibit this until one year has passed. As a result, it would seem to me that supporters of this prospective member have only two options:

1.) Wait one year, as provided in the bylaws, and then have the member reapply.

2.) Amend the bylaws to remove (or perhaps shorten) the waiting period. (While they are at it, they might want to consider removing the "ten negative votes" rule, or they may run into the same issue next time.)

Finally, I disagree that the "ten negative votes" rule could have been suspended ahead of time - at least, not without great difficulty. (Unless, of course, your bylaws specifically provide that rule can be suspended.) While a rule of this nature is in the nature of a rule of order, and rules of order can generally be suspended even if they are found in the bylaws, there are two rules in RONR which would make suspending this rule much more difficult.

"The incidental motion to Suspend the Rules:

...

7. Usually requires a two-thirds vote (see below, however). In any case, no rule protecting a minority of a particular size can be suspended in the face of a negative vote as large as the minority protected by the rule." RONR (12th ed.) 25:2, emphasis added

As a result, it would seem to me that because the rule in question protects a minority of ten members, the rule in question could not be suspended if there were ten or more negative votes on the motion to suspend the rules.

Furthermore, there is the complication of the fact that this rule involves a vote which must be taken by ballot.

"When a vote is to be taken, or has been taken, by ballot, whether or not the bylaws require that form of voting, no action is in order that would force the disclosure of a member’s vote or views on the matter. Applications of this rule arise with regard to voting on motions to Postpone Indefinitely (30:5) and the reconsideration of motions that have been previously voted on by ballot (30:7). Likewise, a motion to make unanimous a ballot vote that was not unanimous must itself be voted on by ballot; even a single negative vote in such a case defeats the motion." RONR (12th ed.) 45:21

Therefore, it would seem to me that a motion to Suspend the Rules in regard to this rule would have to be taken by ballot, since to do otherwise would essentially force the disclosure of members' views on the admission of this member - undermining the secrecy of the ballot that the rule in the bylaws is intended to protect.

Edited by Josh Martin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/3/2022 at 2:16 PM, Josh Martin said:

In any case, no rule protecting a minority of a particular size can be suspended in the face of a negative vote as large as the minority protected by the rule." RONR (12th ed.) 25:2, emphasis added

As a result, it would seem to me that because the rule in question protects a minority of ten members, the rule in question could not be suspended if there were ten or more negative votes on the motion to suspend the rules.

thanks for that  I was puzzling on how to interprete 25:2

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...