Parliamentarian Tips: General Consent, Voting By Email

During a business meeting, the chair may decide, in the interest of expediency, to use the procedure of adopting a motion by general consent (or unanimous consent). This can save time and speed up a meeting when business is minor or routine.

This procedure would not be used when there is even a hint of disagreement among members. If someone objects, then the motion is treated in the normal manner and put to a vote.  Examples:

The presiding officer says, “If there is no objection…….” and pauses to allow any possible objection, then proceeds to declare the decision.

“If there is no objection, the minutes will stand approved as read.” (Pause) “Hearing none, the minutes will stand approved as read.”

“Without objection, we will stand adjourned.” (Pause) “Meeting adjourned.”

One of the most frequently asked questions from our PTAs is on the practice of voting by email.  Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised has addressed this issue that has been created by our technology-driven society and many PTAs may find this to be a useful and time-saving tool.

Voting by email can only be allowed if your PTA bylaws provide for this method. As with “general consent”, the chair should be careful in using this method to determine majority rule on an issue.  The procedure for the vote should include instruction for time allowed for debate and when voting will take place.  Also, each member must be able to participate in the debate contemporaneously (at the same time) therefore members must be careful to use “reply all” when discussing and voting.  Results of the electronic vote should be reported at the next “physical meeting” and be recorded in the minutes of the approving body.

Other great parliamentary tips are available on the Council website ( under the Catagory “Parilamentary Notes” in the sidebar.  Please take time to scroll through these notes for answers to most parliamentary questions that PTAs encounter.  Additional topics may be found under the Page: Parliamentarian Tips.

Also, Missouri PTA is fortunate to have the help of a professional parliamentarian, Dr. Leonard Young. Dr. Young is the president of the National Association of Professional Parliamentarians and he will be presenting a workshop at our convention in Springfield in October.  His workshop is one you won’t want to miss, so be sure to register your PTA leaders for the convention by the September deadline!

“Fundamentally, parliamentary procedure defines how groups of people, no matter how formal or informal, can most effectively meet and make decisions in a fair, consistent manner—and make good use of everyone’s time. Even a basic background in parliamentary principles can help you and your organization hold more efficient meetings.”  I recommend memorizing some basic parliamentary procedures and practicing them at every PTA meeting.

While I am not a professional, I am able to help answer most questions regarding parliamentary procedure for PTAs (and I do have an expert parliamentarian on speed-dial!).  


Donna Petiford, Council Parliamentarian,

petiford (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

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