Dear Dinosaur Advice Column

Got questions about Robert's Rules of Order? Ann Macfarlane is a dinosaur who knows her stuff. She explains the complexity of Robert's Rules so it makes sense. She loves hearing from readers with their questions about Robert's Rules of Order.

How do I handle nominations for mayor? Do nominations need a second?

Dear Dinosaur:  At our council meeting, councilmembers will appoint a mayor for the new year from among the council. My question is how to manage the possibility of there being more than one nomination. I can’t say that we will, but I want to be prepared.

Answer: At the meeting, as presiding officer you open nominations. Members propose a name they would like to see elected. Nominations do not require a second. When all eligible names have been provided, you announce that nominations are closed.

You then take the vote on each name, in the order it was listed. The first name that receives a majority wins the election as mayor. No votes are taken on the remaining names.

It’s important to explain to people that they need to vote on each name, not to wait until their preferred name is voted on, since if they abstain from voting or are silent, another candidate could be elected by a majority of those who do vote.

Note that the basis for determining the outcome could be different, depending on the laws and policies that apply. See our blog entry, Counting a vote wrong is dangerous.

And of course, this election must be conducted in open session, unless the sunshine laws (open public meeting laws) of your state say something different.

Dear Dinosaur provides simple, practical answers to questions about Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure. Send your questions to Dear Dinosaur here. Our answers are based on Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 12th edition. As always, nothing in this post constitutes legal or business advice. For specific issues, seek a qualified authority.

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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.