Robert's Rules
on Parliamentary

According to

California State Association of Parliamentarians


Survival Tips on
Robert's Rules of Order

Unanimous Consent

"If there is no objection ...". These are the 5 most helpful words a chairperson will ever find.

In cases where there seems to be no opposition in routine business; or on questions of little importance; and in the presences of a quorum; you can save time by obtaining Unanimous Consent (General Consent) from the assembly. And then in one meeting, you as a chair can accomplish ten times the amount of work.

After all, parliamentary procedure is designed to protect the minority, and generally need not be strictly enforced when there is no minority (opposition) to protect. In these cases, a motion can be adopted without the Six Steps or even the formality of making a motion.

Any meeting can be ten times more productive if the chair will merely state, "If there is no objection, (we will adopt a motion to do such and such)." When no objection is heard, the chair states, "Since there is no objection, ... (such and such a motion is adopted)." If someone objects, the chair cheerfully proceeds with the traditional Six Steps.

    Examples of situations which clearly beg for the Unanimous Consent approach are:

  1. To correct or approve the minutes. You do not need a time wasteful motion for this.

  2. To withdraw an own motion before the vote is taken. The maker may wish to withdraw his own motion; but the motion belongs to the assembly. Only the assembly may allow the withdrawal of a motion.

  3. To suspend a rule on a matter clearly not controversial (and as long as no ByLaw is violated).

  4. To allow a speaker a few more minutes than the prescribed time.

  5. To allow a guest speaker to speak in an order contrary to the approved agenda (or Rules of Order).

  6. To divide a complex motion into logical parts for discussion, amendments, and voting purposes.

  7. To close polls on a voting process after inquiring if there are any more votes. No motion to close the polls is necessary.

  8. To elect a lone nominee by acclamation.

In reality, as long as you have a quorum and do not violate a ByLaw, these 5 powerful words can allow a chair to quickly accomplish just about anything. These 5 words can shorten any meeting which is typically run by an egocentric, self-indulging, power meister.

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