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        Robert Rules of Order

 

Robert Rules of Order has been a long standing set of procedures that facilitates any type of meeting. Even though these standards and outlines may seem long, they provide a basis to make your meeting flow much easier. You may be free to modify and adjust these to bring fairness and simplicity to your meeting. Many churches may have their own set of bi-laws.  Printable Version link at the bottom of this link.


Here are the basic elements of Robert's Rules, used by most organizations:

 

1. Motion: This allows someone 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 be made after that motion by raising your hand and say ("I second it.") The reason to raise one’s hand is that several may call for a second and the secretary can record who actually called for the second in the minutes. After a limited amount of 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.) Some bi-law business requires a 2/3 vote on purchasing or selling property, etc. with churches. You may want to check out your denominational guidelines.

 

2. Postpone Indefinitely: This tactic is used to kill a motion. When passed, this motion cannot be reintroduced at that meeting. It may be brought up again at a later date. One should say, ("I move to postpone this indefinitely..."). A second is required. A majority vote is required to postpone the motion under consideration.

 

3. Amend: This process is used to change a motion under consideration. Perhaps you like the idea proposed but not exactly as it is 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, discussions are made and a majority vote is needed to decide whether the amendment is accepted. Then a vote is taken on the amended motion.

 

Note: Some organizations will offer a "friendly amendment", which allows the person to withdraw their original motion and modify that motion to include suggested changes after discussions have been made. This eliminates to have an amended motion to be brought up and voted on without a separate vote to approve the amendment.

 

4. 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.

 

5. Question: To end a debate immediately, the word “question” is used (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. The reason for a two-thirds vote on this area is to help eliminate someone trying to stop further discussions to gain an advantage. If it is passed, the motion on the floor is voted on immediately.

 

6. 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 is required to table the item being discussed.

 

7. 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 a smaller meeting, like a committee or board meeting, often only four motions are used:

 

  • To introduce (motion.) (“I make a motion to…”)
  • To change a motion (amend.) (“I make a motion to change or amend…”)
  • To adopt (accept a report without discussion.) (“I make a motion to adopt this”)
  • To adjourn (end the meeting.) (“I make a motion to adjourn”)

 

Remember, this allows everyone to have a say in the discussions, share ideas, and to pass items in an orderly manner. Parliamentary procedure should not be used to prevent discussion of important issues. Board and committee chairpersons or other leaders may want to review these before conducting a meeting.

 

 

                           Tips on Parliamentary Procedures

 

 

The following summary will help you determine when to use the actions described in Robert's Rules.

 

  • A main motion must be moved, seconded, and stated by the chair before it can be discussed.
  • If you want to move, second, or speak to a motion, stand and address the chair.
  • If you approve the motion as is, simply vote for it.
  • If you disapprove the motion, simply vote against it.
  • If you approve the idea of the motion but want to change it, amend it or submit a substitute for it.
  • If you want advice or information to help you make your decision, move to refer the motion to an appropriate quorum or committee with instructions to report back.
  • If you feel they can handle it better than the assembly, move to refer the motion to a quorum or committee with power to act.
  • If you feel that there the pending question(s) should be delayed so more urgent business can be considered, move to lay the motion on the table.
  • If you want time to think the motion over, move that consideration be deferred to a certain time.
  • If you think that further discussion is unnecessary, move the previous question.
  • If you think that the assembly should give further consideration to a motion referred to a

quorum or committee, move the motion be recalled.

  • If you think that the assembly should give further consideration to a matter already voted

upon, move that it be reconsidered.

  • If you do not agree with a decision rendered by the chair, appeal the decision to the assembly.
  • If you think that a matter introduced is not germane to the matter at hand, a point of order may be raised.
  • If you think that too much time is being consumed by speakers, you can move a time limit on such speeches.
  • If a motion has several parts, and you wish to vote differently on these parts, move to divide the motion.

 

 

   To Do This

You Say This

May you interrupt the
   speaker?

Must You Be
Seconded?

   Is The
Motion Debatable?

What Vote is
   Required?

   Adjourn
   Meeting*

I move that we
     adjourn

       No

     Yes

     No

   Majority

     Recess
   Meeting

I move that we recess until…

       No

     Yes

     No

   Majority

Point of room temperature or noise, etc.*

     Point of
   Privilege

     Yes

       No

     No

   No Vote

Suspend further consideration of*

I move we
   table it

     No

     Yes

     No

   Majority


   End Debate

I move the
   previous
   question

     No

     Yes

     No

   2/3 Vote

     Postpone consideration of

I move we postpone this motion until…

     No

     Yes

     Yes

   Majority

Have something studied further

I move we
refer this to
committee

     No

     Yes

     Yes

   Majority

Amend a Motion

I move this  
motion be
amended by

     No

     Yes

     Yes

   Majority

 

 

 

 

 

 

   To Do This

You Say This

May You interrupt the
   Speaker?

Must You Be
   Seconded?

   Is the
   Motion Debatable?

What Vote is
   Required?

   Introduce a
Primary Motion

I move that…

     No

     Yes

     Yes

   Majority

     Object to
   Procedure or Personal Affront*

Point of Order

     Yes

     No

     No

   No Vote Chair Decides

       Request
   Information

   Point of
Information

     Yes

     No

     No

   No Vote

Ask for Actual
Count to Verify
   Voice Count

   I Call for a Division of the
     House

     No

     No

     No

   No Vote

     Object to Consideration of
Undiplomatic
       Vote*

I Object to Consideration
     of this
   Question

     Yes

     No

     No

   2/3 Vote

Take Up a Matter
     Previously
       Tabled*

I Move to Take from the Table

     No

     Yes

     No

   Majority

   Reconsider
   Something Already Disposed
           Of*

I Move We

Reconsider
   Action
Relative To

     Yes

     Yes

     Yes

   Majority

       Consider
     Something Already Out of Its
     Schedule*

I Move We Suspend Rules
and Consider

     No

     Yes

     No

   2/3 Vote

Vote On Ruling
     By Chair

I Appear the
     Chair’s
   Decision

     Yes

     Yes

     Yes

   Majority

 

*Not Amendable

 

 
 

   IN THE MEETING

 

 

Note: Having a Robert’s Rule of Order book, outline, or quick references such as the ones listed above, does not guarantee that you will have a successful meeting. It is merely provides a guide or outline on how to make motions, vote on those motions, how to maintain order on the voting and discussions.

 

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 someone 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 or discussions.
  • 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. Time-limits could be established by the chair on motions that are significant changes to one’s organization or is controversial.  
  • 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 can be obtained verbally, standing, or the raising of hands for a count.
  • 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.



Printable Version
Robert Rules of Order.docx
Microsoft Word document [24.1 KB]

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