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quorum


Guest Justin Fogo

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Our parlimentarian in our organization does not have a vote on executive committee issues, but does he/she get to count in quorum?

You mention a board and (also?) an executive committee. Are these two separate bodies? Is the parliamentarian a member of both? Does he not vote by choice (the RONR rule) or because your rules say he can't?

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... Does he not vote by choice (the RONR rule) or because your rules say he can't?

I'm not so sure that "by choice" is the RONR rule. P. 451 has it that the "member parliamentarian... does not ... vote" except for a ballot vote.

Doesn't sound like much "choice" there.

'Course, if the member chooses NOT to be the parliamentarian, then he can do anything any other member can do.

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You mention a board and (also?) an executive committee. Are these two separate bodies? Is the parliamentarian a member of both? Does he not vote by choice (the RONR rule) or because your rules say he can't?

Mr. Mountcastle,

Our board and exec. committee are one in the same. I wasn't aware that it was an RONR rule that parlimentarian couldn't vote. Our by-laws do not indicate any such rule, so I guess by RONR rule. Our previous parlimentarian had always ruled that he counted towards quorum, but it has come up in discussion lately. I really appreciate your help.

Justin

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I'm not so sure that "by choice" is the RONR rule. P. 451 has it that the "member parliamentarian... does not ... vote" except for a ballot vote.

Doesn't sound like much "choice" there.

Perhaps not. But I think, if only for the purposes of determining the presence of a quorum, there's a difference between a member who can't vote (perhaps because of some disciplinary sanction) and a member who, by virtue of accepting the position of parliamentarian, chooses not to exercise his right to vote.

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Our board and exec. committee are one in the same.

Well, to avoid future confusion (if only on this forum), you should stick with one name. Generally, the executive committee (if there is one) is a subset of the board (RONR describes it as "a board within a board"). Further, it's unlikely that a board (or an executive committee) would need the regular services of a parliamentarian and, further, it seems unwise for a member of a representative body (such as a board or executive committee) to give up his right to vote (as a member-parliamentarian is expected to do).

Finally, make sure that your parliamentarian is not just the parliamentarian of the association but also the board's parliamentarian. If only the former, he would be under no restrictions at board meetings.

I wasn't aware that it was an RONR rule that parlimentarian couldn't vote. Our by-laws do not indicate any such rule, so I guess by RONR rule. Our previous parlimentarian had always ruled that he counted towards quorum, but it has come up in discussion lately.

Please see my reply to Mr. Stackpole (above) regarding the member-parliamentarian and the quorum. And stay tuned for further replies.

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I wasn't aware that it was an RONR rule that parlimentarian couldn't vote. Our by-laws do not indicate any such rule, so I guess by RONR rule.Justin

Since the question hinges on whether the parliamentarian gets to vote, we must assume he is also a member of the organization. Absent any other rule to the contrary, RONR's rule of the parliamentarian having the same requirement of impartiality as the presiding officer (who, assuming is a member, retains all rights of membership but exercises few, and under certain circumstances, yet ostensibly still counts towards the quorum) would suggest they both count towards the quorum despite their restricted voting rights.

Although the original post started with "Our parliamentarian in our organization does not have a vote....", the reality is his right to vote was limited only by a misunderstanding by the organization of RONR and perhaps what they thought may have been in their bylaws.

As regards "small board" meetings, I haven't yet found anything in RONR that suggests the parliamentarian's rights are less restricted as are the presiding officer's. But I'm still looking.

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I'm not so sure that "by choice" is the RONR rule. P. 451 has it that the "member parliamentarian... does not ... vote" except for a ballot vote.

Doesn't sound like much "choice" there.

'Course, if the member chooses NOT to be the parliamentarian, then he can do anything any other member can do.

A member-parliamentarian retains the right to vote but he should not exercise this right except when the vote is by ballot or he is unlikely to keep his position as parliamentarian.

I wasn't aware that it was an RONR rule that parlimentarian couldn't vote.

There isn't. A member-parliamentarian retains the right to vote but he should not exercise this right except when the vote is by ballot.

Our by-laws do not indicate any such rule, so I guess by RONR rule.

Then yes, he does count toward a quorum.

As regards "small board" meetings, I haven't yet found anything in RONR that suggests the parliamentarian's rights are less restricted as are the presiding officer's. But I'm still looking.

Well, you'll be looking for a while, as it's not in there. The restrictions on the parliamentarian apply regardless of the size of the assembly, but a small board is unlikely to need a parliamentarian anyway.

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Judging from a good number of posts recently, I'd tend to dispute this. Maybe they shouldn't need the services of one, however........ ;)

Well, perhaps I should say that a small board is unlikely to need the long-term services of a parliamentarian. A short session training the members in the basic principles of parliamentary procedure may be beneficial. It is also possible that a particular meeting may involve particularly complex or controversial issues and the assistance of a parliamentarian could be beneficial. It is primarily in larger assemblies (especially conventions), however, that the rules are complex enough that there is value in having a parliamentarian at every meeting.

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A member-parliamentarian retains the right to vote but he should not exercise this right except when the vote is by ballot ...

There isn't. A member-parliamentarian retains the right to vote but he should not exercise this right except when the vote is by ballot.

Have to disagree there: the p. 451 text is crystal clear: the member-parliamentarian "does not ... vote" - no "should not" about it. The one exception to the hard and fast rule is in the case of a ballot.

So I suppose if there was a ballot vote the parliamentarian would count toward the quorum for that vote.

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Have to disagree there: the p. 451 text is crystal clear: the member-parliamentarian "does not ... vote" - no "should not" about it. The one exception to the hard and fast rule is in the case of a ballot.

So I suppose if there was a ballot vote the parliamentarian would count toward the quorum for that vote.

But is "does not" the same as "can not?" Does the acceptance of the position of parliamentarian actually take away the member's rights, which typically can only be done by disciplinary action, or explicit rule (perhaps in the bylaws, or a special rule of order)?

[added]

Since he can vote if by ballot, to say that magically he now counts towards the quorum when a ballot vote is called for, and otherwise does not, makes little sense to me. I don't see the difference between this circumstance and that of the presiding officer who also "does not vote" except in certain circumstances (affecting the result, or by ballot) and yet, as I assume, still counts towards the quorum at all times.

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Have to disagree there: the p. 451 text is crystal clear: the member-parliamentarian "does not ... vote" - no "should not" about it.

Crystal-clear would be saying, "the member-parliamentarian shall not vote". Or, more crystal clearly, "can't vote". Saying he does not is sort of like predicting the future (or the present). It's like when you bring your kid over to your friend's house, your friend serves carrots, and you tell her, "Oh, Jimmy doesn't eat carrots". At which point, of course, Jimmy scarfs down a handful of carrots.

Or maybe it's like when someone tells you, "My dog doesn't bite".

The member-parliamentarian has not lost his right to vote. If, against the rule that says he doesn't vote, he does, he should be disciplined. But his vote counts.

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Have to disagree there: the p. 451 text is crystal clear:

the member-parliamentarian "does not ... vote" -- no "should not" about it.

The one exception to the hard and fast rule is in the case of a ballot.

So I suppose if there was a ballot vote the parliamentarian would count toward the quorum for that vote.

It is never the case that the quorum count differs once a METHOD OF VOTING is adopted.

The quorum count isn't dependent on how the assembly casts its votes.

***

If a rule has an exception, then, in no case, is it "hard and fast".

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Have to disagree there: the p. 451 text is crystal clear: the member-parliamentarian "does not ... vote" - no "should not" about it. The one exception to the hard and fast rule is in the case of a ballot.

So I suppose if there was a ballot vote the parliamentarian would count toward the quorum for that vote.

I do not think the statement on RONR, 10th ed., pg. 451 is sufficient to override the rule of RONR, 10th ed., pg. 255, lines 22-28. If a member-parliamentarian insisted on voting when the vote was not taken by ballot, he could not be prevented from doing so, although I expect he would not retain his position for very long after such a stunt. The member-parliamentarian retains the right to vote, although he should not exercise that right except when the vote is by ballot. He counts toward a quorum at all times he is present, just like any other member.

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