Just The FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)
The answers here assume that RONR is the adopted parliamentary authority and that there are no bylaws, superior laws, or Special Rules of Order which supercede the rules in RONR:
- 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.
- 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 small boards of not more than about a dozen members present, the chairman usually participates the same as other members. 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."
So you see, 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. After all, the chairman is a member, too, and has just as much right to have things go their way as any other member. 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.
- 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.
- Can an ex-officio member vote, make motions, or debate?
Yes, the term "ex officio", when no written rule addresses it otherwise, refers to a METHOD of sitting with a 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.
- Can bylaws be suspended?
Only bylaws that are in clearly in the nature of rules of order may be suspended. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. p. 17.
- Can a member of the nominating committee be nominated?
Yes. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. p. 419.
- Can a member nominate themselves for an office?
Yes. There is no rule in RONR 10th ed. that prevents it.
- Can nominees vote for themselves?
Yes. There is no rule in RONR 10th ed. that prevents it.
- Must the President, if nominated, step down from the chair during the election?
No. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 436.
- Can a bylaws requirement for a ballot vote 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. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 255 and 244.
- 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.
- The President has resigned, now what?
The Vice-President automatically becomes the President for the remainder of the term of the President. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 442.
- 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.
- When somebody calls out "Question!", must debate cease?
No. Previous Question is the proper motion for that, and a member must be recognized by the chairman to move Previous Question, not just shout it out from their seat. If recognized and seconded, it is not debatable, and requires a two-thirds vote to be adopted. If adopted, debate ceases and a vote is taken on the immediately pending question. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 189-201.
- When does a resignation take effect?
A resignation is actually a request to be excused from a duty. It is effective only after the resignation has been accepted by the appointing or electing authority, unless the bylaws say otherwise. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 277-280.
- How long can a member speak in debate?
Ten minutes, unless he obtains the consent of the assembly to speak longer (two-thirds vote), and then a second time for 10 minutes after everyone has been given a chance to speak once. If debate is closed before the member has had a chance to make a speech or a second speech, none may be made. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 41.
- 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.
- 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 have no rights to the proceedings of the Board.
- 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.
- Should seconds be recorded in the minutes?
No. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 451-456.
- 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 legislative bodies. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 325-331.
- Can a meeting be adjourned if there is still business pending?
Yes. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 225-226.
- 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.
- What is a quorum?
It is the minimum number of voting members who must be present at a meeting in order to conduct business, 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.
- What can be done in the absence of a quorum?
Fix the time to which to adjourn, Adjourn, Recess, Take measures to obtain a quorum. For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. pp. 336-337.
- 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 maintain a neutral position by abstaining.) For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. p. 394 and p. 390.
- Can married couples be officers (or board members) at the same time?
Yes. Unless the bylaws say otherwise, there is no parliamentary rule to prevent it. Also, the voters have spoken, and saw nothing wrong there, too!
- 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 units 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.
- 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 one make a nomination for more than one person at the same time?
No -- unless nobody objects.
For more information, refer to RONR (10th ed.), p. 418, l. 6-11.
- Can a member vote on or second a motion to approve the minutes of a meeting that he did not attend?
Yes, absolutely! There is no requirement in Robert's Rules of Order that a member have first-hand knowledge of something 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.
- In the event of a tie vote what are the President's duties or options?
On a tie vote, a motion requiring a majority vote for adoption is lost, since a tie is not a majority.
If the presiding officer is a member of the assembly, he can vote as any other member when the vote is by ballot. In all other cases the presiding officer, if a member of the assembly, can (but is not obliged to) vote whenever his vote will affect the result--that is, he can vote either to break or to cause a tie; or, in a case where a two-thirds vote is required, he can vote either to cause or to block the attainment of the necessary two thirds.
The chair cannot vote twice, once as a member, then again in his capacity as presiding officer. In an appeal from the decision of the chair, a tie vote sustains the chair's decision, even though his vote created the tie, on the principle that the decision of the chair can be reversed only by a majority.
For more information, refer to RONR (10th ed.), pp. 392-393.
- How many times can minutes be corrected after they are approved?
There is no limit as far as Robert's Rules are concerned.
"If the existence of an error or material omission in the minutes becomes reasonably established after their approval, even many years later, the minutes can then be corrected by means of the motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted, which requires a two-thirds vote, or a majority vote with notice, or the vote of a majority of the entire membership, or unanimous consent."
For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. p. 458.
- Does a treasurer's report need to have a motion of approval?
No motion is needed - or proper. A treasurer's report is simply "received" as it is given and no motion should be made to "adopt", "accept" or "approve" it. An annual auditors' report, on the other hand, is "accepted" or adopted, but not the treasurer's financial report itself.br />
For more information, refer to RONR 10th ed. p. 461.