Survival Tips on
Robert's Rules of Order
Surprises from Various Meetings
- What are we voting on?: Member A moves a motion. After some light debate, the chair puts the motion to a vote. Member A interrupts to ask, "What are we voting on?" Member B recommends that Member A ask the mover of the motion to repeat the motion. Member A says, "Oh, it's my motion."
- Motion to Ban the Committee Chair: Bylaw requires that a particular commmittee be chaired by the Treasurer. That committee adopted a motion to ban the Treasurer from the next meeting. A Conflict of Interest was suspected.
- Move the Previous Question: Often called after 15 minutes of debate, unfortunately no motion has been moved.
- Straw Vote: Request permission to run a straw vote to determine if the board would entertain a motion to postpone the motion.
- Unicorn Syndrome: A delegate prepared a well thought out amendment to a resolution. When the amendment was ready to be discussed in front of hundreds of her peers, the delegate took the microphone and moved to Object to the Consideration of the Question (her amendment). The voting had to be delayed until the laughing ceased.
- Most Common Abuse: On many occasions, a chair has insisted on making unilateral decisions on issues entirely outside of his power and completely within the power of the delegates or members. For example: by cutting off debate; by ignoring Requests for Information or Points of Order; by refusing a motion properly moved and seconded; by accepting the suggestion from one member without allowing the delegates to decide for themselves.
- Election Tyrant: The chair of the election committee insisted on handling the election, the nominations, the balloting, the reballoting, and the definition of illegal votes.
- Bylaws Tyrannt 1: The chair of the bylaws committee insisted on handling speaker recognition sequence, the validity of amendments to the amendments, the voting, the division on the voting, the debate time per member, and when to close debate.
- Bylaws Tyrannt 2: The bylaw committee chair insisted that no amendments could be made to the bylaw amendments as his committee had written them. The delegates could either adopt the amendments or defeat them, but could not alter the wording even within the scope of the notice.
- Need of a Parliamentarian: A member insisted that the chair should not need a parliamentarian. This was the annual meeting of an incorporated association. I asked if he thought it was acceptable for the chair to keep the CPA and the attorney in the meeting. No response.
- Convention Agenda: The chair of the convention coordinating committee insisted that the agenda (published in the program several weeks before the convention) was not being followed. I reminded the member that the delegates had adopted a modified version of that agenda. His feelings were hurt.
- Amendments: A board of directors would not allow any amendments to a main motion unless the maker and the seconder of the original motion gave their consent.
- Bylaws Prohibit Bylaw Amendments: Unless the proposed amendment is for non-substantive purposes.
- Call for the Question: A board of directors that allowed the chair the discretion to permit or disallow the motion to 'Call for the Question.'
- Biggest Surprise of All: A board that allows members from the audience to make motions at the board meeting!