Voting and Quorum

Don’t take a two-thirds vote by voice

By Ann Macfarlane / June 5, 2018 / Comments Off on Don’t take a two-thirds vote by voice

When you have to take a two-thirds vote, take it by a show of hands. Don’t use voice, as in this video from Amherst, Massachusetts!

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Unanimous consent will slash your meeting time

By Ann Macfarlane / April 17, 2018 / Comments Off on Unanimous consent will slash your meeting time

Unanimous consent is one of the most useful tools in Robert’s Rules of order. Yet this method of voting is little known. Use it well, and your meetings will be much more efficient. Your members will also be grateful!

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Don’t try to count a voice vote

By Ann Macfarlane / April 3, 2018 / Comments Off on Don’t try to count a voice vote

Sometimes after a voice vote that is not unanimous, we see an odd scenario. The chair or the clerk starts trying to figure out who voted for and who voted against. “Let’s see, it looks like the motion passed, with Member B and Member C voting against—you did vote against, didn’t you?” Don’t do this! Trying…

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You can’t vote by email

By Ann Macfarlane / October 12, 2016 / Comments Off on You can’t vote by email
can't vote by email

Updated May 1, 2023 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…

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Recording votes in meeting minutes

By Ann Macfarlane / August 25, 2016 / Comments Off on 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 their 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

By Ann Macfarlane / August 4, 2016 / Comments Off on 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

By Ann Macfarlane / May 30, 2016 /

Updated November 19, 2022 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, say “aye.” [pause] Call for those against:  All those opposed, say “no.” [pause] Announce the result:  The “ayes” have it, the…

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What is a quorum and why does it matter?

By Ann Macfarlane / March 16, 2016 /
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

By Ann Macfarlane / March 4, 2016 /

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

By Ann Macfarlane / October 16, 2015 /
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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