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Guest Diana Shadduck

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Guest Diana Shadduck

Question: Our organization meets twice a year. An officer was nominated, elected and installed by the majority to fill vice president. However, we have violated our own Constitution in that the officer could not serve two consecutive terms of the office. The officer has served one year and was unanemously elected to serve a seconde year. Our Constitution states "this Constitition can be amended by 2/3 vote of members present and that proposed amendments shall have been read at a previous session before action can be taken." How do we handle this situation? Ask her to resign a position which she was illegally elected to?

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Question: Our organization meets twice a year. An officer was nominated, elected and installed by the majority to fill vice president. However, we have violated our own Constitution in that the officer could not serve two consecutive terms of the office. The officer has served one year and was unanemously elected to serve a seconde year. Our Constitution states "this Constitition can be amended by 2/3 vote of members present and that proposed amendments shall have been read at a previous session before action can be taken." How do we handle this situation? Ask her to resign a position which she was illegally elected to?

Now does your constitution say "cannot be nominated for a second term" or "cannot be elected for a second term"? There is a huge difference in meaning.

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How do we handle this situation? Ask her to resign a position which she was illegally elected to?

Well, since she's not eligible to hold the office, she doesn't have the option of not resigning. Or, more accurately, the association doesn't have the option of not accepting her resignation. Or something like that.

She's automatically out of office once a point of order is raised (and sustained) at the next meeting pointing that fact out.

That said, I suppose you could still let her "resign" with dignity.

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....

She's automatically out of office once a point of order is raised (and sustained) at the next meeting pointing that fact out.

That said, I suppose you could still let her "resign" with dignity.

Yes, but it'll be a while before someone can raise a point of order, if they only meet twice a year. Similarly, they can't accept a resignation outside a meeting:

Our organization meets twice a year.

...

we have violated our own Constitution in that the officer could not serve two consecutive terms of the office. The officer has served one year and was unanemously elected to serve a seconde year. Our Constitution states "this Constitition can be amended by 2/3 vote of members present and that proposed amendments shall have been read at a previous session before action can be taken." How do we handle this situation? Ask her to resign a position which she was illegally elected to?

Do you have any way to call a special meeting (if so, the process should be described in your constitution, or bylaws)? It sounds as though your group has a number of things it might do -- raise a point of order to get the improperly elected VP out of office (and then elect someone else), accept a (potential) letter of resignation (and then elect someone else), amend the constitution to allow the consecutive term (and then elect her again). In any case, all these potential actions can only happen at a meeting. Actually, in the case of amendment, your rules seem to require more than one meeting to carry out that task... If you only meet twice a year, and if you don't have provisions for calling a special meeting, you may be waiting for quite a while.

edited to add:

An ironic twist would be if your constitution's definition of the term of office included the words 'or until a successor is elected' -- in that case, your VP may still properly be in office, by virtue of the fact that her re-election was null and void, so no successor has (yet) been elected ;) .

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If you only meet twice a year, and if you don't have provisions for calling a special meeting, you may be waiting for quite a while.

In the meantime, one would hope this illegitimate vice-president doesn't make any "official" decisions which might end up being declared null and void. Or, since she holds the office, can she continue to "act" as the vice-president?

I suppose the good news is that it's the vice-presidency and not an office that actually does anything. One recalls John Nance Garner's description of the office as ""not worth a bucket of warm piss".

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In the meantime, one would hope this illegitimate vice-president doesn't make any "official" decisions which might end up being declared null and void. Or, since she holds the office, can she continue to "act" as the vice-president?

I suppose the good news is that it's the vice-presidency and not an office that actually does anything....

But that's only in the parliamentary sense. In some organizations the VP has a lot of defined responsibilities. I belong to one group where the VPs (yes, we did amend the bylaws to add a 2nd VP position, mainly to spread out the workload) do much of the heavy lifting, and the organization would be in trouble without responsible and hard-working members in those offices.

As for your question, I'm not sure. Continuing breaches (RONR p. 244) are described as actions which are null and void from the moment they occur; however, the assembly doesn't formally 'see' the breach until a point of order is raised. Actually, I'm not sure why the actions of the illegitimate officer might be declared null and void, as you suggest? What sort of parliamentary (not legal) situation do you have in mind?

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I'm not sure why the actions of the illegitimate officer might be declared null and void, as you suggest? What sort of parliamentary (not legal) situation do you have in mind?

Firstly, my "do nothing" comment was (mostly) tongue-in-cheek.

And I had no specific administrative (non-parliamentary) action in mind but, as you correctly point out, some vice-presidents have substantial responsibilities and, therefore, authority. And it seems to me that someone who has no right to hold that office might want to refrain from exercising that authority. Without much justification, admittedly, I see a person who's not qualified to hold an office differently from someone who, for example, was elected by a plurality vote when a majority vote was required. Or, perhaps more to the point since we're talking about a continuing breach, someone who was elected at an inquorate meeting (though proving that after the fact can be problematic).

I don't think RONR supports such a "sliding scale" of continuing breaches but I think having an ineligible person in office should be at the high end.

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I've never been a fan of using this particular play on words.

The office holding limitations in the sample bylaws [p567] will probably accomplish the limitation for most organizatins. They might also consider "no person shall serve consecutive terms on the board, either full or patrial, aggregating more than __ years. A person who has served __ years on the board shall be ineligible for reelection for a period of one year."

-Bob

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A person who has served __ years on the board shall be ineligible for reelection for a period of one year."

But they could be appointed sooner than that?

I think the word "serve" (or "hold office") eliminates all the apparent wiggle room that words such as "run for", "nominated", and "elected" sometimes encourage.

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Now does your constitution say "cannot be nominated for a second term" or "cannot be elected for a second term"? There is a huge difference in meaning.

But they could be appointed sooner than that?

I think the word "serve" (or "hold office") eliminates all the apparent wiggle room that words such as "run for", "nominated", and "elected" sometimes encourage.

The one potential hiccup in this might (hypothetically) be that after serving the maximum terms as President, the member is elected to VP, and then the President vacates office. That whole automatic ascension to the throne thingie the VP has as a "duty." The likelihood of this happening is low, sure, but the possibility is there and then........

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The one potential hiccup in this might (hypothetically) be that after serving the maximum terms as President, the member is elected to VP, and then the President vacates office.

I suppose it could be argued that a person ineligible to serve as president is, at least practically, ineligible to serve as vice-president since he'd be unable to fulfill the fundamental parliamentary responsibility of that office. Or you could write an exception into the bylaws . . . or use "elected or appointed" instead of "serve".

Bylaws are certainly more fun to interpret than to write!

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