Approving minutes if you were absent

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Is it all right for you to vote to approve minutes of a meeting if you were absent? Robert’s Rules of Order gives a resounding “yes” as the answer to this question.

When you vote to approve the minutes, you are expressing your confidence in the veracity of the secretary, the actions of your colleagues, and the correctness of the minutes preparation process. You are not making a personal eyewitness statement that “you were there.”

The body needs an official record of its actions, and all members may approve that record. This means that you should not abstain from voting to approve minutes of a meeting if you were absent from that meeting.

Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition says this:

It should be noted that a member’s absence from the meeting for which minutes are being approved does not prevent the member from participating in their correction or approval. 41:11.

In the same vein, a newly elected member may vote to approve minutes, and a member who was not present at a meeting has the right to move approval of the minutes of that meeting.

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Ann Macfarlane

Ann G. Macfarlane is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. She offers an interactive and user-friendly way to master the key points for effective, efficient and fair meetings. Her background as a diplomat and Russian translator enables her to connect with elected officials and nonprofit board directors and give them the tools they need for success. She is the author of Mastering Council Meetings: A guidebook for elected officials and local governments.