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Unelecting a President


J. J.

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This is a more technical question.

The bylaws provide an officer shall server "or until a successor is elected." The President, Joe, is an officer as is the vice president, Mary. Someone moves to rescind the election of the president of Joe.

Who technically should preside?

This motion obviously "refers only to the presiding officer in a capacity not shared in common with other members (p. 436, l. 5-6)." However, so would the motion, "As many as are in favor of Joe for president, say aye... (see p. 428)." RONR notes that the president "should not hesitate to put the question on the motion to elect officers ... even if he included (p. 436, l. 11-13)."

Joe, who will not participate in debate in the motion, would like to preside. More than 1/3 of the members will vote against a motion to suspend the rules and permit someone else to preside. A member will raise a point of order if Joe does not relinquish the chair, citing p. 436, l. 5-6.

Does the rescission of the election constitute a motion that "refers only to the presiding officer in a capacity not shared in common with other members?" Is it a situation where the president "should not hesitate to put the question on the motion to elect officers ... even if he included?"

I would be inclined to feel that the that the point of order would be well taken, but I am unsure.

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Does the rescission of the election constitute a motion that "refers only to the presiding officer in a capacity not shared in common with other members?" Is it a situation where the president "should not hesitate to put the question on the motion to elect officers ... even if he included?"

In my opinion, the president should relinquish the chair under the rule of RONR, 10th ed., pg. 436, lines 5-6. Since rescission of an officer election is permitted only as a disciplinary action (RONR, 10th ed., pg. 642, line 29 - pg. 643, line 5), it seems clear that the president's ability to preside impartially is compromised. Since the chair is supposed to relinquish the chair even for a motion which censures him (RONR, 10th ed., pg. 436, lines 6-10), I would think he should certainly relinquish the chair for a motion which removes him from office.

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In my opinion, the president should relinquish the chair under the rule of RONR, 10th ed., pg. 436, lines 5-6. Since rescission of an officer election is permitted only as a disciplinary action (RONR, 10th ed., pg. 642, line 29 - pg. 643, line 5), it seems clear that the president's ability to preside impartially is compromised. Since the chair is supposed to relinquish the chair even for a motion which censures him (RONR, 10th ed., pg. 436, lines 6-10), I would think he should certainly relinquish the chair for a motion which removes him from office.

Censure (or commend, obviously) are not disciplinary actions, so I don't see that analogy. As to presiding impartially, I could make the same argument to say that Joe should not have presided over his own re-election, yet that is permitted. This is basically the reversing of that election.

Joe, for the record, has shown no partiality (!) on the question; he will not, if he presides. He wishes to do his duty under the bylaws and he both enjoys presiding and is very good at it. It is a question of what the rule requires.

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Censure is not a disciplinary action?

No, not in general. It can be adopted as a motion, "That ____ be censured." It expresses an opinion, like "commend," though a different opinion. The example on p. 131 is very clearly not disciplinary action, yet it is "censure."

The only thing I can really come up with is that Rescind is a different motion than the assumed motion "That _____ be elected."

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It is actually a motion to remove from office; a very different thing from a run-of-the-mill election.

I can buy that. I'll ask two follow ups.

[Assume that the vice president will become president if there is any vacancy in the office of president as per p. 442, so that there will be no election of a president.]

1. If the motion was made as, "To remove Joe from the office of president," would that wording be in order?

2. The bylaws require that the election be by ballot. Does the motion removing Joe also require a ballot vote, even if a majority oppose it? A small minority want a ballot, but there is no special rule or bylaw granting them that rule. Two members will raise a point of order on different grounds.

A. This is disciplinary action covered by p. 640 and a ballot may be requested by any one member.

B. This is an election and requires a ballot as per the bylaws.

My guesses are:

1. Yes.

2. A. Not well taken, as this is not strictly disciplinary action. B. Not well taken, as this is not an election.

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I'm curious as to how.

I had assumed that the difference is this.

(a.) in an election, the voter may or may not vote for the president, who's name is in competition with other names, from the viewpoint of the voter. Thus, the commonality is, the pool of names which the voter may vote for.

(b.) in a rescission of an election, there is no competition. The voter cannot target anyone else in this motion To Rescind; the single targeted officer isn't being grouped with any other officer. There is no commonality.

Note RONR's distinction when disciplinary actions do target a group. - The process changes, solely due to inclusion. I would not be surprised if this carries over for pure rescission, beyond the ostensible disciplinary hearing and disciplinary trial, as RONR describes the changeover.

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No, not in general. It can be adopted as a motion, "That ____ be censured." It expresses an opinion, like "commend," though a different opinion. The example on p. 131 is very clearly not disciplinary action, yet it is "censure."

And yet there it is, on p. 642 and, if "reprimand" is the equivalent of "censure", on p. 624 in Chapter XX, Disciplinary Procedures.

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[Assume that the vice president will become president if there is any vacancy in the office of president as per p. 442, so that there will be no election of a president.]

1. If the motion was made as, "To remove Joe from the office of president," would that wording be in order?

2. The bylaws require that the election be by ballot. Does the motion removing Joe also require a ballot vote, even if a majority oppose it? A small minority want a ballot, but there is no special rule or bylaw granting them that rule. Two members will raise a point of order on different grounds.

2A. This is disciplinary action covered by p. 640 and a ballot may be requested by any one member.

2B. This is an election and requires a ballot as per the bylaws.

My guesses are:

1. Yes.

2. A. Not well taken, as this is not strictly disciplinary action. B. Not well taken, as this is not an election.

1. (... in order?) - Under most conditions, "No."

The question cannot be put until a trial is complete except where the successor clause is included in the defined term of office.

You cannot willy-nilly rescind elections of officers out of the clear blue sky. You need cause. Your scenario includes no cause.

2. ("Does the motion removing Joe ... require a ballot vote?") - No.

The rules for RESCISSION are vastly different from the rules for ADOPTION, under RONR.

2A. ("This is disciplinary ...") - Okay.

Cause must have already been part and parcel of the process if you are at that stage.

2B. ("This is an election.") - Unclear.

What do you mean, you are attempting to remove Joe AT AN ELECTION?

Why not just hold the election, and vote Joe out?

Why are you removing Joe when Joe will be removed naturally that same hour?

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Once a motion is placed before the assembly, it no longer belongs to the maker of the motion.

So what's the (practical) difference between reprimand and censure?

FWIW - from Merriam Webster online, as one source:

Main Entry: 1cen·sure

1 : a judgment involving condemnation

2 archaic : opinion, judgment

3 : the act of blaming or condemning sternly

4 : an official reprimand

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FWIW - from Merriam Webster online, as one source:

Main Entry: 1cen·sure

1 : a judgment involving condemnation

2 archaic : opinion, judgment

3 : the act of blaming or condemning sternly

4 : an official reprimand

Yet it can be an act of "blaming or condemning sternly," as poor Officer George might find out.

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