Voting and Quorum

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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