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 (http://www.scptamo.com/) 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!).  

Sincerely,

Donna Petiford, Council Parliamentarian, petiford@sbcglobal.net

petiford (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

Election of Officers

After the nominating committee is elected, the committee should review the bylaws to verify the date of the election meeting, notice of the election meeting, when the nominating committee report is published and requirements for additional nominations from the floor.

Some common methods of voting are by voice, by show of hands, by roll call, and by secret ballot. Secret ballots are generally preferred in large organizations and many bylaws state if there is more than one nomination for an office, a secret ballot is required.

Common rules for secret ballot votes:

When the bylaws mandate a secret ballot vote, this requirement cannot be suspended, even by a unanimous vote. Of course, bylaws can never be suspended.

In secret ballot votes, the chairman should always vote at the same time that the other members vote. In this case, the chairman loses his tie-breaking vote.

Two common methods of election:

1. By plurality vote. The person receiving the largest number of votes is declared elected. For example, if three per-sons were nominated for a position, the one receiving the largest number would win, even if the number were not a ma-jority of the votes cast.

2. By majority vote. A candidate must receive a majority of the total votes for all candidates to be elected. Common rules for election by majority vote:

– Abstentions are never counted. Blank ballots are discarded, and not reported as part of the vote.

– Illegal votes are reported as part of the vote, but may not be credited to any candidate.

– Under normal parliamentary rules, repeated balloting should be done until a candidate obtains a majority. Names of nominees should be kept on the ballot, unless the bylaws provide some method of dropping the nominee receiving the lowest number of votes.

Unless otherwise stated in the bylaws, candidates are elected by a majority vote of members present and voting.

If two or more candidates are nominated for office:

– The chair announces the procedure for election.

– A tellers’ committee is appointed by the chair.

– Ballots are cast by qualified members.

– The tellers collect the votes and retire to a private room to count votes.

This procedure is repeated for each contested office. The president re-reads the report and announces the results for each office.

The procedure for collecting ballots should be established before the election begins. Possible methods are:

– Tellers give ballots to members and collect them.

– Tellers give ballots to members, and the voter places the ballot in a box set up for this purpose.

The Chair of the tellers’ committee returns with a written report, signed by all of the tellers, which he/she reads and then hands to the presiding officer. The tellers’ report should include:

×          Number of votes cast

×          Number needed to elect.

×          List of candidates in order of number of votes received

×          Number of votes received after each name

×          Number of illegal votes

×          This procedure is repeated for each contested office. The president re-reads the report and announces the results for each office.

Remember when voting by ballot:

×          Members are to be advised when and how ballots are to be collected.

×          Candidates are not to be involved in the election procedure (teller, collecting ballots, or counting votes).

×          In a contested election, each candidate may designate a person as an observer at the time ballots are counted.

×          Only members may vote and each person votes only once.

After the vote is taken, counted and announced, the chair can designate how and when the ballots will be destroyed without objection from the membership. If there is an objection, a motion should be made to designate a time to destroy the ballots.

Adapted from Missouri PTA’s Nominations Are In Order

Parliamentary Tip of the Month

 

Occasionally, after the nominating committee has made its report, some member will call out “Move to vote the slate,” which would mean the member wishes to have the entire slate of officers voted on in its entirety. As presiding officer or as a member, one cannot allow this to happen, as it takes away every member’s right to be nominated from the floor. In this case, the presiding officer could simply state, “That motion is not in order at this time,” and continue with the call for additional nominations from the floor, voting on each office in turn.

Mary Christiano, Parliamentarian

mary_christiano@sbcglobal.net 

 

 

Nominating Committee

From the Parliamentarian . . .

NOMINATING COMMITTEE

by Julie Kays, Parliamentarian, Springfield Council of PTAs

Serving on the nominating committee is an honor and a privilege. This committee is your PTA’s most responsible, sensitive and deliberative body. The decision of this committee will affect the future of your PTA.

Nominating Committee members must:
• Be elected according to your PTA’s bylaws;
• Be chosen carefully to include both experienced, ongoing leadership as well as newer members;
• Be elected on merit and ability – not on popularity;
• Be aware of the importance of their assignment;
• Have knowledge of potential candidates’ qualifications and abilities;
• Have knowledge of PTA unit/council goals, purposes and programs;
• Be able to give objective consideration to find the best-qualified leaders for the PTA;
• Have the courage to express ideas and to defend one’s convictions;
• Use sound judgment and skill in evaluating possible nominees; and
• Be tactful, have integrity and discretion, and be able to keep all deliberations confidential.

The committee’s responsibility is to nominate the best-qualified candidate for each office according to the unit/council bylaws. Any PTA member may suggest the names of persons to be considered; however, the committee is not bound by such recommendations. A presidential nominee should not be asked whom they would like for running mates.

The current president is not a member of the nominating committee and does not attend its meetings. The president should furnish the committee with copies of bylaws, procedures, and the PTA membership list.

A member of the nominating committee may become a candidate for office without resigning from the committee. The member proposed for nomination should withdraw from the meeting while his/her qualifications are discussed and to allow for additional names to be submitted for consideration. The member may return to vote. Please note that there is no rule in Robert’s Rules of Order that such a member resign from the nominating committee.

The committee should:
• Review the tenure of incumbent officers to determine their eligibility for another term in the same or another position;
• Think carefully about the possible candidates, their qualifications, ability to work well with others, sufficient time for the position*, and if they have the leadership qualities that will best achieve the goals and purposes of this PTA;
• Ask the president and other board members for input as to the performance of present board members;
• Nominate one person to serve in an office;
• Contact potential candidates to receive their consent to be nominated and to serve; and
• Keep all deliberations of the committee COMPLETELY CONFIDENTIAL and insure that no information on the names of persons considered for office or those who declined to accept nominations are ever made public.

*While the Nominating Committee may consider a possible candidate’s other commitments, it is important that the committee allow the candidate to accept or reject on that basis. The Nominating Committee should not dismiss a possible candidate because they think that person is too busy. Often the busiest people are also the most productive people and can handle many tasks.

The potential nominee:
• Must be a PTA member;
• Must be enthusiastic and supportive of the PTA unit/council;
• Must believe in the objects and purposes of the PTA and believe that PTA is the best organization for working for children and youth;
• Should have had experience in PTA, though other organizational work may be considered;
• Should have knowledge of the organization and its role in the school and community;
• Should be relied upon to give PTA a satisfactory level of priority and commitment;
• Should have a good relationship with people;
• Must be fair and objective and able to subordinate personal interest to the interests and well-being of the PTA unit/council; and
• Have successfully carried out any current responsibilities assigned by their office or position.
(Adapted from Missouri PTA’s Nominations Are In Order)

DO’S AND DON’TS

• DO consider membership on a nominating committee an honor and privilege as well as a responsibility.
• DO select qualified people with skill, personality, enthusiasm and time for the job.
• DON’T select people for candidacy because they expect to be asked or will be offended if not, or because they are friends. Choose the people that are right for the job and right for the organization.
• DO keep your deliberations confidential.
• DO be honest about the responsibilities and expectations of the position when contacting potential candidates.
• DO consider new people so your PTA grows and does not give the impression of exclusion. New leadership often brings new perspective and enthusiasm.

Mary Christiano, Parliamentarian

mary_christiano@sbcglobal.net

Parliamentary Procedures

Commonly Asked Questions – And Often Misunderstood Answers

By Dr. Leonard Young, Parliamentarian for Missouri PTA (an excerpt from a workshop handout presented at the Missouri PTA 2010 Convention).

1. Can the chairman vote?
If a member, the chairman has the right to vote, and does so in small boards of not more than about a dozen members present. In larger assemblies, the chairman (who has a duty to maintain an appearance of impartiality) may vote when his vote would affect the outcome: to make or break a tie or to make or prevent a two-thirds vote, or when the vote is by ballot (at the same time as everybody else). For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 392-393.

2. Can the chairman make motions?
Yes, the chairman, if a member, has the same RIGHT to make a motion as any other member. In small boards of not more than about a dozen members present, the chairman usually participates in the same way that other members do. However, in larger assemblies, the chairman has a duty to remain impartial, so would usually not make a motion directly. The chairman could say, for example, “The chairman will entertain a motion to…” and then wait for a member to make it, or “Is there a motion to suspend the rules that interfere with hearing the speaker at this time?”  The chairman may also assume a motion, as in: “If there are no [further] corrections, the minutes stand approved as read [as corrected].” or “If there is no further business to come before the meeting, this meeting will now adjourn. [pause] Hearing none, this meeting is adjourned.”  Without actually directly making a motion, the chair can accomplish pretty much the same thing without blatantly compromising his or her impartiality. Another option is to ask someone before the meeting to make a motion that the chair wishes to be considered. Accepting the job of chairman does not remove any rights as a member. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 470-471, 343, 210, 234, 490.

3. Can the chairman enter into debate?
In small boards of not more than about a dozen members present, yes. In larger assemblies, if the chairman wishes to debate, he/she should relinquish the chair to the vice president or another member, until the matter is disposed of, before resuming the chair. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 470-471,
382-383.

4. Can an ex-officio member vote, make motions, or debate?
Yes, the term “ex officio”, when no written rule addresses it otherwise, refers to how a member becomes part of a particular body, not a “class” of membership. It tells how one becomes a member (by virtue of the office), not what their rights are. If the rights of ex-officio members are to be restricted, that must be done in the bylaws. Otherwise, ex-officio members have the same rights as elected or appointed members. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 466-467.

5. Can bylaws be suspended?
Only bylaws that are in clearly in the nature of rules of order or that contain a clause that clearly provide for its own suspension may be suspended. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. p. 17.

6. Can a member of the nominating committee be nominated?
Yes. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. p. 419.

7. Can a member nominate themselves for an office?
Yes. There is no rule in RONR 10th ed. that prevents it.

8. Can nominees vote for themselves?
Yes. There is no rule in RONR 10th ed. that prevents it.

9. Must the President, if nominated, step down from the chair during the election?
No. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 436.

10. If the bylaws require a ballot vote be this requirement be suspended if there is only one nominee for each office?
No, such a bylaw cannot be suspended even by a unanimous vote or unanimous consent. If you wish for this provision to be possible, put it in your bylaws. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 255 and 244.

11. What is a write-in vote?
During a ballot vote, a member may write a name on the ballot, which is a vote for that person, rather than voting for a candidate whose name already appears on the ballot. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 427.

12. The President has resigned, now what?
Generally, the Vice-President automatically becomes the President for the remainder of the term of the President. However, the bylaws should specify what is done in case of a vacancy. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 442.

13. Are mail-in or telephone votes okay?
No, not unless authorized by the bylaws. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 469-470.

14. When somebody calls out “Question!” must debate cease?
No. A member who wishes debate to be closed should wait to be recognized by the chairman and then move the Previous Question, not just shout it out from their seat. If recognized and seconded, this motion is not debatable, and requires a two-thirds vote to be adopted. If adopted, debate and further amendment of the pending question cease and a vote is taken on the immediately pending question. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 189-201.

15. How long can a member speak in debate?
Ten minutes, unless he obtains the consent of the assembly to speak longer. This requires a two-thirds vote. A member may speak a second time for 10 minutes if no one is claiming the floor who has not yet spoken for the first time. Organizations that want to limit debate should adopt a special rule of order limiting the length or number of speeches. Such a rule requires a two-thirds vote for adoption. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 41.

16. Do nonmembers have a right to attend or speak at meetings?
No, nonmembers have no rights to the proceedings. However, a request can be granted to attend by a majority vote or unanimous consent, but it requires a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules to allow a nonmember to speak in debate. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 255, 625.

17. Do members who are not members of the Board of Directors have a right to be present or speak at board meetings?
No. See the answer to #17, as nonmembers of the Board have no rights to the proceedings of the Board.

18. Do members of an organization have access to the minutes of the Board of Directors?
The Board may grant an individual member’s request to inspect the minutes, or by a two-thirds vote or by a vote of a majority of the entire membership, the organization can order the minutes to be produced and read at a meeting, or by a majority vote if previous notice is given. For more information, refer to RONR
10th ed. pp. 470.

19. Should the name of the person seconding a motion be recorded in the minutes?
No. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 451-456.

20. If a motion has been defeated, can it be brought up again at the next meeting?
Yes, if the meeting is a different session, which is the normal situation, in other than governmental legislative bodies. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 325-331.

21. Can a meeting be adjourned if there is still business pending?
Yes. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 225-226.

22. Who decides what is on the meeting Agenda?
The members at a meeting may adopt an agenda by a majority vote, and may amend it prior to its adoption. After it is adopted, an amendment to the Agenda requires a two-thirds vote, or a vote of a majority of the entire membership, or unanimous consent. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 360-363.

23. What is a quorum?
It is the minimum number of members who must be present at a meeting in order to conduct business. This number is usually specified by the bylaws. If not specified in the bylaws, then in most societies a quorum is a majority of the entire membership. In a body of delegates, a quorum is a majority of the members registered as attending. In organizations without a reliable register of members, a quorum at a regular or properly called meeting is those who attend. In a mass meeting, a quorum is those persons present at the time. For more
information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 334-335.

24. How do you count abstentions? As ayes? As no’s?
In the usual case, abstentions are not counted. They are not “votes” technically. In a room of 100 people, a vote of 1-0 [one affirmative and zero negative] is legitimate, and renders a binding decision. Also, a vote of 1-0 in room of 100 people is technically a “unanimous vote” because there was no vote in opposition. However, if the bylaws specify “a majority of those PRESENT” or “two-thirds of those PRESENT”, instead of “PRESENT AND VOTING”, then an abstention has the same effect as a negative vote. (This language is generally undesirable; as it denies a member the right to maintain a neutral position by abstaining.) For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. p. 394 and p. 390.

25. What is a majority? Fifty-one percent? Fifty percent plus one?
The word “majority” means “more than half.” The false definition “51%” only applies to assemblies of exactly 100; the false definition of “50% + 1” is only true for even numbers, and false for odd numbers. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 387.

26. When nominations for offices are being taken from the floor, and in a situation in which the office calls for more than one person to be elected, can a member make a nomination for more than one person at the same time?
Yes — unless nobody objects. For more information, refer to RONR (10th ed.), p. 418, l. 6-11.

27. Can a member vote on or second a motion to approve the minutes of a
meeting that he did not attend?

Yes. There is no requirement in Robert’s Rules of Order that a member must
have first-hand knowledge before voting on minutes or other motions. In fact, a
motion need not be made regarding the approval of the minutes. The chair says,
“Are there any corrections to the minutes?” Members may offer corrections, and
when there are no further corrections forthcoming, the chair says, “If there are
no further corrections to the minutes, they stand approved as corrected… the
next item of business is…” or if no corrections are offered, “If there are no
corrections to the minutes, they stand approved as read… the next item of
business is…” Note that there is no second involved in this process. For more
information, refer to RONR (10th ed.), pp. 343-344.

From The Parliamentarian

FROM THE PARLIAMENTARIAN . . . AMENDMENTS
by Julie Kays, Parliamentarian for Springfield Council of PTAs

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

1. Amendments, like main motions, require a second, are amendable, are debatable, and require a majority vote.
2. An amendment should be stated so that it indicates exactly what is being done to the main motion.
3. An amendment must always be handled before voting on the motion to which it was applied.

EXAMPLES OF VARIOUS TYPES OF AMENDMENTS

MAIN MOTION: “Mr. Chairman, I move that we sponsor a delegate to our National PTA Convention in June.”

Amend by STRIKING OUT: “Mr. Chairman, I move to amend the main motion by striking out the words ‘in March.’” (Such an amendment would be useful if the exact dates of the convention are not known).

Amend by ADDITION (or INSERTION): “Mr. Chairman, I move to amend the main motion by adding at the end of the motion ‘providing, however, that this PTA shall be responsible for expenses up to $550.00.”

Amend by STRIKING OUT AND INSERTING: “Mr. Chairman, I move to amend the main motion by striking out the words ‘a delegate’ and inserting the words ‘two delegates.’”

All of the above are examples of PRIMARY (first degree) amendments, because they apply directly to the main motion stated above. A SECONDARY (second degree) amendment is one that applies to another amendment. A SECONDARY amendment could be applied to the above amendment by addition, as follows:

SECONDARY AMENDMENT: “Mr. Chairman, I move to amend the amendment by striking out ‘$550.00” and inserting ‘$500.00.’”

Amendments of the THIRD DEGREE are not permitted, but an unlimited number of primary and secondary amendments can be made. However, no more than one primary and one secondary amendment can be proposed at a time.

SUBSTITUTE MOTION

Whenever it is desired to change the wording of a motion so substantially that several amendments would be required, a substitute motion may be used. A substitute motion has the same status as a primary amendment, but the procedures for handling it are somewhat different. Both the main motion and the proposed substitute are opened to amendment. Then when both have been PERFECTED, a vote is taken on whether the substitute will replace the main motion. Finally, the vote is taken on the adoption of the final motion (which may be either the proposed substitute or the original main motion).

SUBSTITUTE MOTION: “Mr. Chairman, I move that we encourage all of our members to attend National PTA Convention in June.” (This is a logical substitute for the main motion stated above. It deals with the same topic – attendance at the National convention, but proposes a completely different course of action.)

When voting on main motions with amendments, the secondary amendment is first voted upon, then the primary amendment (as amended by the secondary amendment, if it passes), then finally the main motion (as amended by the secondary amendment, if that is the case) is voted on. The chair announces the defeat of the motion or that the motion is adopted (as amended, if that is the case).

Mary Christiano, Parliamentarian

mary_christiano@sbcglobal.net

Motions and Rules of Debate

FROM THE PARLIAMENTARIAN . . .October 2011 (Council News)

MOTIONS

A MOTION is a formal proposal by a member, in a meeting, that the organization take certain action.

Basic form: Main Motion: The only motion whose introduction brings business before the assembly.

The main motion, once adopted, is the expressed will of the organization. The minutes should state the exact wording of the motion as adopted.

PRINCIPLES OF PARLIAMENTARY LAW

Only one main motion can be pending at a time.

The same or substantially the same question cannot be considered twice during the same session.

If a main motion has been temporarily disposed of, the same or substantially the same question cannot be brought up while it is still under the control of the assembly.

Once a motion has been adopted, the same question cannot be renewed unless the motion is rescinded or reconsidered.

RULES OF DEBATE

A member who desires to speak in debate must obtain the floor.

Each member has the right to speak twice on the same question on the same day, but cannot make a second speech on the same question so long as any member who has not spoken on that question desires the floor.

No one can speak longer than permitted by the rules of the body, or when no rules have been adopted, for no longer than ten minutes per speech.

Debate must be confined to the merits of the pending question.

Speakers must address their remarks to the chair or through the chair – not to any other member.

Speakers must maintain a courteous tone and avoid injecting personal notes or attacking another member’s motives.

Speakers should refer to officers by title only.

Speakers should avoid the mention of other members’ names as much as possible.

The presiding officer should not enter into discussion of the merits of the pending question.

The presiding officer cannot close debate so long as any member, who has not exhausted his right to debate, desires the floor, except by order of the body, which requires a two-thirds vote (to close debate).

HANDLING A MOTION

A member makes the motion. (“I move that . . .”)

Another member seconds the motion. (Does not need to be recognized. Seconder is not recorded in the minutes).

The chair states the question. (“It has been moved and seconded that . . .”)

The members debate the motion.

The chair puts the question (takes the vote).

The chair announces the results of the vote.

The action of the assembly may be recorded in the minutes as follows:

“MOTION: Sara Jones moved that Springfield Council of PTAs contribute an additional $100.00 to the Clothing Bank to help with additional needs from hurricane victims. MOTION CARRIED (or ADOPTED or FAILED).”

Parliamentary Tip of the Month

 

There is some confusion as to the role of the chair in a meeting as it relates to entering into the business of the organization. Is it true that the chair cannot make motions and cannot vote? NO, it is not true, but has a grain of truth. A chair never loses the ordinary rights of membership, including making motions and voting. However, while acting as the presiding officer of a group larger than a small committee meeting, the duties of chairmanship demand that the chair be im-partial. Therefore, the chair should not make motions, and should not vote unless the single vote of the chair will change the outcome, or unless the voting is by ballot. This implies that the chair votes last, if voting by voice or by rising, if at all, to preserve the image of impartiality up to the deciding vote.

Mary Christiano, Parliamentarian

mary_christiano@sbcglobal.net

From the Parliamentarian

BASIC PRINCIPLES OF PARLIAMENTARY LAW

Sept 2011 (Council Newsletter)

 

Parliamentary procedure requires that all members have equal rights; that there be mutual respect among board members; that the rights of the minority to initiate motions, debate, and have their votes counted be protected, while at the same time the will of the majority governs.

Only one item may be under consideration at a time.

The majority vote decides the question.

Any question that limits board members’ rights of discussion or changes theagreed order of business requires a 2/3 vote of the members present.

Any matter once decided cannot be brought up again at the same meeting, except by a motion to reconsider.

The simplest, clearest and most expeditious way to conduct business is considered proper, as long as it does not violate the rights of members.

Responsibilities of the Chair

 

Recognize board members entitled to speak or propose motions.

Note: Some motions may be made while another member has the floor.

Speaker must state the purpose of the interruption so the chair can rule on its validity.

Restate motions after they have been seconded, then open discussion.

Close discussion and put motions to vote. Votes on motions that are not debatable should be put immediately. If any member objects to closing discussion on a debatable motion, a 2/3 vote is required to close debate. Restate the motion exactly as it was made or amended before calling for a vote.

Announce the result of a vote immediately. A tie vote defeats a motion requiring a majority of those voting. The chair may vote to make or break a tie.

Avoid entering into any controversy or interfering with legitimate motions or discussion.

Maintain order and proper procedure, making necessary rulings promptly and clearly.

Expedite business in every way compatible with the rights of members. You can allow brief remarks on debatable motions, advise board members how to take action (proper motion or form of motion), or order pro-posed routine action with a formal vote. (See tip below.)

Protect the board from frivolous motions whose purpose is to obstruct the board’s business. You can refuse to entertain such motions. Never adopt such a course, however, merely to expedite business.

Parliamentary Tip of the Month

 

There are several ways that the chair can expedite business in a meeting. One of those ways is the use of general consent on business items. There will be items of business that everyone or almost everyone agrees upon. During a business meeting, voting can take time. In the interest of expediency, the procedure of adopting a motion by unanimous (or general) consent can be used. This can save time and speed up a meeting when business is minor or routine.

Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, states “. . .the method of unanimous consent can be used either to adopt a motion without the steps of stating the question and putting the motion to a formal vote, or it can be used to take action without even the formality of a motion.”

This procedure would not be used when there is even a hint of disagreement among members. With our silent consent, we allow a non-verbal vote that the presiding officer processes. Then we can move on to the next item of business. If someone objects, then the motion is treated in the normal manner and put to a vote.

Examples:

“If there is no objection, the minutes will stand approved as read.” There is an implied motion to approve the minutes, but the chair need not wait for the motion and a second.

“Without objection, we will stand adjourned.” Once again, this is an implied motion if all business is completed. However, even if a member moves to adjourn, unanimous consent can be used to dispose of the motion.

The chair can usually sense the tone of discussion on a motion, when there is no disagreement, and when the motion is ready to be decided. That would be an appropriate use of general or unanimous consent.

Mary Christiano, Parliamentarian

mary_christiano@sbcglobal.net