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March/April 2007

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ASK THE PARLIAMENTARIAN
Minutes And Majorities

BY MIKE SWIFT, VVA PARLIAMENTARIAN

Q: Can members who did not attend a committee meeting vote on the motion to approve the minutes of that meeting?

A: Minutes are usually approved by unanimous consent without taking a vote. If a vote is taken, all members of the committee are entitled to vote on the motion to approve the minutes, whether or not they attended the meeting at which the minutes were taken. If, however, it is the end of the term of the committee members, and the entire committee is being replaced, they should approve the minutes of their last meeting at the close of that meeting.

Q: What are the options available after someone submits his or her resignation and it has been accepted? Can it be “un-accepted” or withdrawn?

A: When a resignation has been acted upon, or a person has been elected to or expelled from membership or office, and the person was present or has been officially notified of the action, the only way to reverse an expulsion is to follow whatever procedure is prescribed by the bylaws for admission or reinstatement. Robert’s, page 298, line 1.

Q: If a member submits his or her resignation, can it be rejected or denied?

A: Although the assembly can, by a vote, reject a resignation or the individual appointing authority can reject a resignation, it serves no practical purpose in a volunteer organization such as VVA. If a member decides a resignation is in everyone’s best interest, it should be accepted by unanimous consent, and an offer of gratitude for service rendered should be extended to the member.

Q: A chapter is electing four directors and there are six names on the ballot. If a member votes for only two of the candidates, is his ballot void and not counted?

A: No, the ballot is not void and it is counted. If a member leaves one or more of the choices blank on a ballot containing more than one office to be filled, the blank spaces in no way affect the validity of the spaces the member filled, and for each of these votes, the member should be given credit for one legal vote. Robert’s, page 402, line 3.

Q: When voting, what is the difference between “a majority” and “a majority of those present”?

A: A majority means a majority of the votes cast with no consideration of those present, and a majority of those present means the number of affirmative votes must be a majority of those members attending the meeting. By modifying the concepts of a majority vote, other bases for determining a voting result are sometimes prescribed by rule. Two elements enter into the definition of such bases for decision: (1) the proportion that must concur—as a majority, two thirds, three fourths, etc.; and (2) the set of members to which the proportion applies—which (a) when not stated, is always the number of members present and voting, but (b) can be specified by rule as the number of members present, the total membership, or some other grouping. Robert’s, page 389, line 20.

Send your questions on parliamentary procedures to parliamentarian@vva.org Answers are based on VVA’s parliamentary authority, Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 10th edition.

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