Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums

What does the term "Majority" mean when voting


Guest Ronnie Edwards

Recommended Posts

When rules indicate that "the winning candidate must receive majority of the votes tallied" how is the winner determined. Historically during our elections the individual with the highest vote wins. Recently we had an election where the rules included the language about a majority. The individual with the second highest vote protested saying no-one received a majority. Is this correct? Or can we rely on intent and precedent from prior years?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When rules indicate that "the winning candidate must receive majority of the votes tallied" how is the winner determined. Historically during our elections the individual with the highest vote wins. Recently we had an election where the rules included the language about a majority. The individual with the second highest vote protested saying no-one received a majority. Is this correct? Or can we rely on intent and precedent from prior years?

By RONR, a candidate must receive a majority to be elected. Majority means more than half (of the votes cast).

If your written rules say you need a majority, any conflicting custom would be out of order.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So would it be reasonable to indicate that a runoff election will be held on a date certain? During the run-off the candidate receiving the highest number of votes win. Will that resovle the matter?

If no one receives a majority, the chair declares "no election," and the assembly votes again, and again, if necessary, until a candidate gets a majority. All nominees' names remain on the subsequent ballots, and voters are free to vote for anyone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We would like to discard of the earlier election and have another election wherein the winner will be determined by the individual who get the highest number of votes. I think this majority will be impossible. We have never required this in the past. We would like to continue deciding the winner as in the past. Everyone knew the intent, so this is a candidate who is attempting to call a tech because the results didn't go his way. We understand that a new election may be required. We don't want to proceed with the majority requirement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We would like to discard of the earlier election and have another election wherein the winner will be determined by the individual who get the highest number of votes. I think this majority will be impossible. We have never required this in the past. We would like to continue deciding the winner as in the past. Everyone knew the intent, so this is a candidate who is attempting to call a tech because the results didn't go his way. We understand that a new election may be required. We don't want to proceed with the majority requirement.

You will need to amend your rules (by following the procedure to amend them), otherwise you will be breaking them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks. We understand the old rules were wrong. They were written specifically for this election. What we would like to do is start over. By starting over we will issue new rules, set a new date and hold a new election. This time the rules will be clear: winner determined by individual receiving the highest number of votes. If done properly, will this resolve the mattter?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest condition ponlay

No, these rules are not spelled out in the by-laws. We are a pepetural organization. We meet monthly and hold elections annually. From time to time vacancies occur, as in this instance and we had a special election to fill the vacancy. According to the By-Laws, Election rules are generally spelled out in the announcement of the election. Every election up to now the winner has always been decided by the highest vote getter. This time due to the wording "majority" we got called on it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So would it be reasonable to indicate that a runoff election will be held on a date certain? During the run-off the candidate receiving the highest number of votes win. Will that resovle the matter?

No it will not. You may not drop any candidates. You vote again with the same list of nominees, unless someone withdraws.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks. We understand the old rules were wrong. They were written specifically for this election. What we would like to do is start over. By starting over we will issue new rules, set a new date and hold a new election. This time the rules will be clear: winner determined by individual receiving the highest number of votes. If done properly, will this resolve the mattter?

The rules will be clear? How?

Are you going to amend your bylaws? If not, and you are using RONR as your parliamentary authority, then your elections must be by majority vote. You may not use plurality voting (highest wins) unless your bylaws explicitly allow it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When rules indicate that "the winning candidate must receive majority of the votes tallied"

how is the winner determined?

A majority is achieved when one candidate (or one option) receives more votes for it than all other candidates (or options) combined.

This is arithmetically equivalent to more than half of all votes cast.

Historically during our elections the individual with the highest vote wins.

Do not confuse PLURALITY with MAJORITY.

A plurality is the highest vote total.

A plurality is not always a majority, i.e., not always greater than all other candidates (options) combined.

Recently we had an election where the rules included the language about a majority.

The individual with the second highest vote protested saying no-one received a majority.

Is this correct?

Or can we rely on intent and precedent from prior years?

You cannot rely on intent/precedent where it conflicts with a written rule.

And Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) is: written rules.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Plurality (or the first-past-the-poll method) is generally the easiest way to elect a director or officer especially if several candidates are running for one position. However, RONR does state that a majority (more than half the votes cast) is required.

A few ways of helping to get a majority vote are:

1) If a number of directors are to be elected, use the first ballot to see how many actually receive more than half the votes cast (each member will have a right to vote for each position, so if three positions are up for election, a member may cast up to three votes.) Let's say two of the three positions get filled on the first ballot: on the second ballot, there is no need to vote for the two people who were elected which provides for a better chance of getting a majority.

2) Create a rule that if a candidate receives less than 5% of the votes cast that he/she is automatically dropped from subsequent ballots. Otherwise, drop the candidate with the least votes (or any candidate receiving less than 5% of the votes cast) after each round of balloting, as this will provide less choice for subsequent balloting.

3) In addition to #2, if an organization finds it is really hard to get a majority vote in early balloting, the rules of the organization can be amended to require all nominations to be made before nomination closes, and that write-in votes are not allowed. While this is not a good idea (write-in candidates are allowed by RONR for a reason), but at least it will help to make a decision if required.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Plurality (or the first-past-the-poll method) is generally the easiest way to elect a director or officer especially if several candidates are running for one position. However, RONR does state that a majority (more than half the votes cast) is required.

A few ways of helping to get a majority vote are:

1) If a number of directors are to be elected, use the first ballot to see how many actually receive more than half the votes cast (each member will have a right to vote for each position, so if three positions are up for election, a member may cast up to three votes.) Let's say two of the three positions get filled on the first ballot: on the second ballot, there is no need to vote for the two people who were elected which provides for a better chance of getting a majority.

2) Create a rule that if a candidate receives less than 5% of the votes cast that he/she is automatically dropped from subsequent ballots. Otherwise, drop the candidate with the least votes (or any candidate receiving less than 5% of the votes cast) after each round of balloting, as this will provide less choice for subsequent balloting.

3) In addition to #2, if an organization finds it is really hard to get a majority vote in early balloting, the rules of the organization can be amended to require all nominations to be made before nomination closes, and that write-in votes are not allowed. While this is not a good idea (write-in candidates are allowed by RONR for a reason), but at least it will help to make a decision if required.

It should be noted that suggestions 2 and 3 are frowned upon heavily by RONR.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It should be noted that suggestions 2 and 3 are frowned upon heavily by RONR.

I agree - however, if an organization really does not want to have multiple ballots, and sometimes it takes multiple ballots, then they are options. My concern is that without options 2 or 3 members are more likely to vote for on of the top contenders only because it means less balloting, not because any of those candidates are the best person/people for the job.

Of course, if an organization has a lot of good candidates, perhaps the by-laws should be amended to increase the size of the Board in order to take advantage of the talent pool.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My concern is that without options 2 or 3 members are more likely to vote for on of the top contenders only because it means less balloting, not because any of those candidates are the best person/people for the job.

RONR is not concerned with reading the members minds and judging their motivations. It is entirely likely that people will switch to the top contenders. They may also switch to one of the lower ranking contenders as a compromise. Whatever they want to do is fine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree - however, if an organization really does not want to have multiple ballots, and sometimes it takes multiple ballots, then they are options. My concern is that without options 2 or 3 members are more likely to vote for on of the top contenders only because it means less balloting, not because any of those candidates are the best person/people for the job.

Of course, if an organization has a lot of good candidates, perhaps the by-laws should be amended to increase the size of the Board in order to take advantage of the talent pool.

RONR is not concerned with reading the members minds and judging their motivations. It is entirely likely that people will switch to the top contenders. They may also switch to one of the lower ranking contenders as a compromise. Whatever they want to do is fine.

I should hope we're all clear that under RONR, the applicable rule is that the assembly continues balloting until the required number of candidates have received a majority vote. Deviations from this rule (dropping candidates, plurality vote, etc.) would have to be in the Bylaws. Whether such amendments to the Bylaws would be beneficial is a decision for the assembly to make. The merits (or lack thereof) of possible deviations from the rules is beyond the scope of this forum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, these rules are not spelled out in the by-laws. We are a pepetural organization. We meet monthly and hold elections annually. From time to time vacancies occur, as in this instance and we had a special election to fill the vacancy. According to the By-Laws, Election rules are generally spelled out in the announcement of the election. Every election up to now the winner has always been decided by the highest vote getter. This time due to the wording "majority" we got called on it.

If we take the poster's description literally, it's possible (not likely, but possible) that the bylaws allow the organization to choose its method of voting (majority, plurality, whatever) prior to each election, and that the chosen method is then to be included in the announcement of each election. Without reading the bylaws, it's impossible to know for sure if that is what's meant, or by what method the organization is supposed to select its voting method prior to the election.

We would like to discard of the earlier election and have another election wherein the winner will be determined by the individual who get the highest number of votes. I think this majority will be impossible. We have never required this in the past. We would like to continue deciding the winner as in the past. Everyone knew the intent, so this is a candidate who is attempting to call a tech because the results didn't go his way. We understand that a new election may be required. We don't want to proceed with the majority requirement.

Even if my guess is right (i.e. that the bylaws may allow flexibility in the voting method), I can't see how it would be proper to change the rules in the middle of an incomplete election.

Assuming the objecting candidate's point of order is ruled well taken, should the election just continue where it left off, namely with further rounds of balloting? Several posters have mentioned amending the bylaws -- could that actually be done prior to continuing with an incomplete election? Or, if the point of order is ruled well taken, is the organization actually in the position of starting over, and having to hold a brand new election (as our randomly named guest seems to assume)?

I think my uncertainty comes from the fact that a number of responses have correctly indicated that an incomplete election should properly be continued with further rounds of balloting voting until a candidate receives a majority. However, since this wasn't done, and since the meeting was presumably adjourned, and since the objection to the announced outcome is coming at a future meeting, what happens next? Is the parliamentary situation really exactly the same as if the election were properly continuing at the original meeting? And, if so, where does a hypothetical motion to amend the bylaws fit in?

edited: Basically, I'm trying to draw the distinction between:

"This is how they should have done it in the first place."

VS

"This is what they can do now to fix it."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

edited: Basically, I'm trying to draw the distinction between:

"This is how they should have done it in the first place."

VS

"This is what they can do now to fix it."

Yes, that's an excellent distinction to draw. It seems quite likely to me that Official Interpretation 2006-18 applies here.

As for suggestions to amend the Bylaws, I suspect that was a suggestion for future elections.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...