Voting and Quorum

You can’t vote by email

can't vote by email

Several of our clients have been startled recently to learn that they can’t vote by email. Email is so ubiquitous and useful that it seems like a natural way to make decisions. For boards, it is not. The essential nature of a board of directors is to meet, discuss and decide affairs as a body.…

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Recording votes in meeting minutes

When deciding about recording votes in meeting minutes, first review any legal requirements in your state of incorporation. For instance, in California, public bodies must record how each board member cast her vote by name in the minutes. Those requirements may settle the matter for you. If your state doesn’t specify how to record the…

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Publish your numbers when electing nonprofit officers

When it comes time for electing nonprofit officers, far too often we see announcements like this: “The election for president was held and Director Black was elected to the office.” This is a mistake! When you hold an election for office, BE SURE to include the numbers of votes cast for each individual in your…

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How to call the vote at meetings

after you call the vote

  It’s interesting to see the many different ways people can call the vote at meetings. This is what Jurassic Parliament recommends: Call for those in favor:  All those in favor, please say “aye.” [pause] Call for those against:  All those opposed, please say “no.” [pause] Announce the result:  The “ayes” have it, the motion…

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What is a quorum and why does it matter?

cartoon about quorum

A friend recently described a board meeting when 20 members, who had driven or flown in from distant parts, sat around waiting because they couldn’t take action – they didn’t have a quorum. Eventually one straggler arrived and the meeting could begin. What is a quorum? A quorum is the minimum number of voting members…

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Chair called the vote wrong

Today’s Seattle Times reports that a committee chair called the vote wrong on Tuesday. The Sustainability and Transportation Committee of the Seattle City Council was considering a proposal to rescue the Pronto bike-sharing program. Chair Mike O’Brien announced that the vote was tied 3-3, meaning that it failed. However, Council Member Debora Juarez actually voted…

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Hopeless in Houston without a quorum

photo of disgusted person

During my time as executive director for a national association of interpreters, the annual meeting in Houston stands out as a low moment. We had retained a professional parliamentarian, but she was over 70 years old and not up to dealing with our frisky members. Accusations were made that the board had mishandled $25,000 and…

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If you abstain from a vote, what happens?

A council member called me recently with one of the most common errors people make about Robert’s Rules of Order. She said, “We have a really controversial vote coming up, and if someone abstains, that counts as a ‘yes’ vote, right?” No, it doesn’t. Under Robert’s Rules of Order, you can vote “aye” or you…

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