Sometimes meetings get noisy, sometimes with no conclusions, sometimes contentious and sometimes dominated by some individuals. Roberts Rules of Order was invented to give some order and structure to meetings so that peoples time can be maximized, so that decisions can be made and that there is consensus.
Our Association obeys Roberts Rules of Order in its ByLaws. Here is the essence of those Rules.
Roberts’s Rules of Order
Robert’s Rules of Order is the standard for facilitating discussions and group decision-making. Copies of the rules are available at most bookstores. Although they may seem long and involved, having an agreed upon set of rules makes meetings run easier. Robert’s Rules will help your group have better meetings, not make them more difficult. Your group is free to modify them or find another suitable process that encourages fairness and participation, unless your bylaws state otherwise.
Here are the basic elements of Robert’s Rules, used by most organizations:
- Motion: To introduce a new piece of business or propose a decision or action, a motion must be made by a group member (“I move that……”) A second motion must then also be made (raise your hand and say, “I second it.”) After limited discussion the group then votes on the motion. A majority vote is required for the motion to pass (or quorum as specified in your bylaws.)
- Postpone Indefinitely: This tactic is used to kill a motion. When passed, the motion cannot be reintroduced at that meeting. It may be brought up again at a later date. This is made as a motion (“I move to postpone indefinitely…”). A second is required. A majority vote is required to postpone the motion under consideration.
- Amend: This is the process used to change a motion under consideration. Perhaps you like the idea proposed but not exactly as offered. Raise your hand and make the following motion: “I move to amend the motion on the floor.” This also requires a second. After the motion to amend is seconded, a majority vote is needed to decide whether the amendment is accepted. Then a vote is taken on the amended motion. In some organizations, a “friendly amendment” is made. If the person who made the original motion agrees with the suggested changes, the amended motion may be voted on without a separate vote to approve the amendment.
- Commit: This is used to place a motion in committee. It requires a second. A majority vote must rule to carry it. At the next meeting the committee is required to prepare a report on the motion committed. If an appropriate committee exists, the motion goes to that committee. If not, a new committee is established.
- Question: To end a debate immediately, the question is called (say “I call the question”) and needs a second. A vote is held immediately (no further discussion is allowed). A two-thirds vote is required for passage. If it is passed, the motion on the floor is voted on immediately.
- Table: To table a discussion is to lay aside the business at hand in such a manner that it will be considered later in the meeting or at another time (“I make a motion to table this discussion until the next meeting. In the meantime, we will get more information so we can better discuss the issue.”) A second is needed and a majority vote required to table the item being discussed.
- Adjourn: A motion is made to end the meeting. A second motion is required. A majority vote is then required for the meeting to be adjourned (ended).
Note: If more than one motion is proposed, the most recent takes precedence over the ones preceding it. For example if #6, a motion to table the discussion, is proposed, it must be voted on before #3, a motion to amend, can be decided.
IN THE MEETING
TO INTRODUCE A MOTION:
Stand when no one else has the floor. Address the Chair by the proper title. Wait until the chair recognizes you. ·
Now that you have the floor and can proceed with your motion say “I move that…,” state your motion clearly and sit down. ·
Another member may second your motion. A second merely implies that the seconder agrees that the motion should come before the assembly and not that he/she is in favor of the motion. ·
If there is no second, the Chair says, “The motion is not before you at this time.” The motion is not lost, as there has been no vote taken. ·
If there is a second, the Chair states the question by saying “It has been moved and seconded that … (state the motion). . ., is there any discussion?”
DEBATE OR DISCUSSING THE MOTION: ·
The member who made the motion is entitled to speak first. ·
Every member has the right to speak in debate. ·
The Chair should alternate between those “for” the motion and those “against” the motion. ·
The discussion should be related to the pending motion. ·
Avoid using a person’s name in debate. ·
All questions should be directed to the Chair. ·
Unless there is a special rule providing otherwise, a member is limited to speak once to a motion. ·
Asking a question or a brief suggestion is not counted in debate. ·
A person may speak a second time in debate with the assembly’s permission.
VOTING ON A MOTION: ·
Before a vote is taken, the Chair puts the question by saying “Those in favor of the motion that … (repeat the motion)… say “Aye.” Those opposed say “No.” Wait, then say “The motion is carried,” or “The motion is lost.” ·
Some motions require a 2/3 vote. A 2/3 vote is obtained by standing ·
If a member is in doubt about the vote, he may call out “division.” A division is a demand for a standing vote. ·
A majority vote is more than half of the votes cast by persons legally entitled to vote. ·
A 2/3 vote means at least 2/3 of the votes cast by persons legally entitled to vote. ·
A tie vote is a lost vote, since it is not a majority.
I have put into red italics those items which our membership needs to pay attention to during meetings.