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NC State Extension

Parliamentary Procedure

Using Parliamentary Procedure

J. Cheek, Dean for Academic Programs, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

L. Arrington, Associate Dean for Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

R. Rudd, Associate Professor, Agricultural Education and Communication

M. McGhee, formerly Professor, Agricultural Education and Communication

Subtle modifications by C. S. Vavrina, Professor, Horticultural Sciences, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Identify the reasons for using parliamentary procedure

2. Define parliamentary procedure

3. Identify and describe the steps in presenting and disposing of a motion

4. Identify and describe the methods of voting

5. Identify and describe majority vote, two-thirds vote, and plurality

6. Identify when the presiding officer can vote

7. Classify motions into categories of privileged, incidental, subsidiary, unclassified, and main

8. Describe the purpose of main motion, amend, refer to a committee, point of order, appeal from the decision of the chair, division of the group, parliamentary inquiry, adjourn, lay on the table, take from the table, nominations and elections, previous question, leave to withdraw or modify a motion, reconsider, rescind, recess, question of privilege, call for the orders of the day, suspend the rules, object to the consideration of a question, division of the question, postpone definitely, and postpone indefinitely

9. For each motion listed in objective No. 8, identify whether the motion requires a second, whether it is debatable and/or amendable, the vote necessary for passage, whether the motion may be reconsidered and/or canceled, and other significant information

‘Robert, H. M., 111, & Evans, W. J. (Eds.). (1990). Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 9th ed. New York: Harper Collins.

2Russell, M. A. (2000). The “How” in Parliamentary Proce­dure, 6th ed. Danville, IL Interstate
Most people in our society participate in organizations. Members of such organizations develop policies, consider various items of business, make resource allocations, and decide and carry out a myriad of actions. When groups of people come together, they usually have group discussions and seek to arrive at group decisions. As an organization increases in size and complexity, it is necessary that rules and procedures be in place to allow the work of the organization to be done in a systematic and democratic manner. It is also important that the members of the organization understand, be able to use, and follow these rules and procedures. The use of parliamentary procedure is a means of providing a group or organization with the rules and procedures necessary to accomplish its business in a systematic and democratic manner.

Although parliamentary procedure is important, most people have only a minimal knowledge and understanding of it. Ability in parliamentary procedure cannot be fully developed by reading about it. It must be studied and then practiced in mock settings and in real organizations. This chapter is designed to provide the basic knowledge to understand and use the most common rules of parliamentary procedure. For additional information regarding the motions covered in this chapter and for information concerning other motions, refer to Robert’s Rules of Order. For an easy-to-read handbook that includes a convenient “Summary of Motions” table, the authors recommend the 80-page “How” in ParliamentaryProcedure.2

One caution as you begin your study of parliamentary procedure: Some people may be tempted to control meetings and outcomes of the workings of organizations through the use, and perhaps misuse, of parliamentary procedure. Parliamentary procedure should be used to help groups achieve their goals and objectives through a democratic process. It should not be used by either a minority or a majority to impede or obstruct the democratic process.

PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE

AS A CODE OF ETHICS

Parliamentary procedure is a code of ethics for individuals to follow as they conduct their group business, especially large groups. It is a code that permits a group to carry out its business in the most effective, fair, democratic, and efficient manner.

  • Debate must be fair to all.
  • The majority is guaranteed the right to decide and rule.
  • The minority is guaranteed the right to express opinions with protection.
  • The minority may disagree, but it must abide by the decisions of the majority.

Democratic principles give purpose to parliamentary procedure. Thus, the primary purpose of parliamentary procedure is to help groups make decisions through a democratic process.

STEPS IN PRESENTING AND DISPOSING OF A MOTION

The following steps are involved in presenting and disposing of a motion.

1. The member rises and addresses the chair, When a member of an group wishes to make a motion, he or she should rise and address the chair by saying “Mr. President,” “Madam Chairperson,” or “Madam Chair.”

2. The chair recognizes the member. The chair may yield the floor by recognizing the member who has requested recognition. Typically, the chair will either say, “Mr. Secretary,” or “specifically state the Secretary’s name,” and “I recognize … then state member’s name.”

3. The member presents the motion. After the member is recognized, he or she has the floor. Before making the motion, the mover should present the rationale for the motion. By doing so, the mover has the opportunity to give reasons why other members of the group should vote for the motion. After a brief preliminary discussion, the member should make the motion. The only acceptable terminology for making a motion is “I move…”

4. Another member seconds the motion. After a motion has been made, it needs a second. If another member does not second the motion, the chair should ask, “Is there a second to this motion?” If no one responds, the motion dies for lack of a second. A second assures that at least one other person in the group supports the idea. Typical ways members second a motion include “Madam President, I second the motion,” “I second the motion,” or simpy “Second.”

5. The chair states the motion. Once the motion has been made and seconded, it should be restated by the chair so that everyone in the group understands the motion and its intention. The chair should say: “It is moved and seconded that we … The floor is now open for discussion on the motion.”

6. The members debate the motion. When the floor is open for discussion, members can debate the pending motion. A member wishing to discuss the motion must rise and request recognition. Once recognized, the member can debate the issue and offer subsidiary, privileged, and unclassified motions. Debate must be limited to the immediately pending motion.

7. The chair calls for the vote. When debate has ended, the chair may ask, “Is there any additional debate?” If there is none, the chair can now call for a vote on the motion. If the chair does not promptly call for a vote when the discussion has ended, a member of the group can express his or her desire to vote on the issue by calling out “Question.” Recognition is not required to call “Question,” and the chair is not required to call for the vote simply because a member has called “Question.” Assuming a voice vote is to be taken, when the chair is ready for the vote on the issue, the chair should say: “Those supporting the motion to (state motion) say ‘Aye.’” “Those opposed to the motion to (state motion) say ‘No. ‘ ”

8. The chair announces the results of the vote. After the vote has been taken, the chair should announce the results by saying “The aye’s have it, and the motion passes. We shall (restate motion)” or “The no’s have it. The motion to shall (restate motion) is defeated.” After the announcement of the vote and the statement of the motion, the chair may rap the gavel.

METHODS OF VOTING

There are five methods of voting that are commonly used in typical business meetings.

1. Rising or show of hands. The most visible method of voting is a rising vote. The chair says: “The question is … All those who support this motion, please rise. Be seated. All those who do not support this motion, please rise. Be seated.” An alternative is for the chair to ask the members to vote by a show of hands. After the vote, the chair indicates the results.

2. Voice. The most common method of voting is a voice vote. To call for a voice vote, the chair says, “Those supporting the motion to … say ‘Aye.”‘ “Those opposed to the motion to … say ‘No.”‘ The chair then announces the results.

3. Roll call. Another method of voting is the roll call. In this case the chair or the secretary calls the roll of members, requests each member’s vote, and then records and tallies the votes. The chair announces the results.

4. General consent. Voting on an item of business can be sped up by the chair requesting approval by “general consent.” The chair states the motion and asks, “Shall we approve this by general consent?” If no one objects, the chair says, “The motion to (state motion) is approved by general consent.” If one person in the group objects, the vote must be taken by other means.

5. Ballot. When a confidential vote is needed, the ballot voting method is used. Ballots are handed to all members, the members cast their votes, the ballots are collected and counted, and the results are announced.

WHEN CAN THE PRESIDING OFFICER VOTE?

The chairman can vote whenever the vote is taken by ballot. In addition, the chair can vote in all cases where his or her vote will change the result. For example, if the vote were 10 for and 10 against, the chair could cast the tie breaking vote. If the chair chooses not to vote in this situation the motion fails. The chair can also vote in a situation where there were 9 votes for and 10 against a motion. Should the chair vote for the motion the result would be a 10 – 10 tie, which would defeat the motion. Neither the chair nor the members are required to vote.

DEFINITIONS

The following definitions will be useful as you master parliamentary procedure.

1. Majority vote. A majority vote is more than half the vote’s cast. A member cannot be required to vote; therefore, a majority vote is determined by the number of members voting. If ten people vote, a majority is six. Most motions require a majority vote for passage.

2. Two-thirds vote. Whenever a motion restricts the actions of the group as a whole, it is important that more than a simple majority vote is necessary to carry the motion, therefore a two-thirds vote is usually necessary. When a two-thirds vote is required, the voting must be done by a method that allows the votes to be counted. A two-thirds vote is two-thirds of the votes cast. If ten people vote, a two-thirds vote is seven.

3. Plurality. During an election involving at least three candidates, one candidate may receive more votes than any other candidate but not a majority of the possible votes. When this occurs, that candidate is said to have a plurality. Since a majority vote is needed for election, a runoff would be required.

TYPES OF MOTIONS

Some motions rank higher than others and therefore take priority (generally called precedence in parliamentary procedure) over other motions. Motions are classified into five groups, based on precedence (discussed below and ranked from highest of lowest priority).

1. Privileged motions do not relate to the pending question but take precedence over it and all other questions because they are of immediate importance. Privileged motions include adjourn, recess, question of privilege, and call for the orders of the day.

2. Incidental motions come from questions that arise during the discussion of a motion pending on the floor. Therefore, they take precedence over, and must be decided on before, the question or motion from which they arise is voted upon. In other words, incidental motions set the stage for the decision to be made on the question that is pending and must be decided before other business can be done. Examples of incidental motions include: appealing a decision of the chair, point of order, parliamentary inquiry, suspend the rules, withdraw a motion, object to the consideration of a question, division of the question, and division of the group are all.

3. Subsidiary motions are applied to other motions for the purpose of settling of them. By means of subsidiary motions, an original motion may be modified, action may be postponed, or the motion may be referred to a committee. The following subsidiary motions are arranged in the order of their precedence (from highest to lowest): lay on the table, previous question, postpone definitely, refer to a committee, amend, and postpone indefinitely.

4. Unclassified motions are motions that cannot be classified. In order of precedence (from highest to lowest), they are take from the table, reconsider, and rescind.

5. Main motions. Main motions are made to bring items of business before a group for its consideration and action. Of the five classes of motions, main motions rank lowest in precedence, because they cannot be voted on until all other motions have been voted on and disposed of.

Main Motion

The purpose of a main motion is to present an item of business for consideration and action by a group. Examples might include a motion to sponsor a trip to. France, a motion to sell T-shirts as a money making activity for the council, and a motion to purchase plaques to recognize persons who have made a significant contribution to the organization. Only one main motion may be before the group at any one time. However, other types of motions may be presented when a main motion is pending. For instance, if a main motion is on the floor, a motion to amend or refer to a committee, as well as a variety of other motions, may be offered. A main motion is the most common type of motion.

Relevant Information Regarding a Main Motion

  • A second is required.
  • The motion is debatable and amendable.
  • A majority vote is necessary for passage.
  • A main motion may be reconsidered and canceled.
  • A main motion ranks last in precedence. Therefore, everything on the floor must be voted on before the main motion is voted on.

Amend

The purpose of a motion to amend is to modify or change the intent of the motion under consideration. For example, if the motion on the floor is to increase the dues to $50, someone could move that the main motion be amended by striking “$50″ from the motion and inserting “$100.”

There are two kinds of amendments, first rank and second rank. An amendment applying to an original motion is of the first rank.

Relevant Information Regarding Amendments

  • A second is required.
  • Amendments are debatable.
  • An amendment may be amended by an amendment of the second rank.
  • An amendment to an amendment cannot be amended.
  • A majority vote is necessary for passage. However, a motion to amend does not have to be voted on if the mover of the original motion accepts the amendment, and no one objects.

Amendments may be reconsidered and canceled.

All amendments must relate to and be on the same subject as the original motion.

The example given above (changing the dues) is a first-rank amendment. An amendment to an amendment is of the second rank. Amendments must pertain to the motion or the amendment to which they refer.

A motion may be amended in four ways: (1) An amendment can strike out words, such as “I move that we amend the motion by striking out the words ‘purchase a van.”‘ (2) An amendment can insert words. For instance, a motion could be amended by’ a member saying “I move that we amend this motion by inserting the words ‘and return to campus at 7:30 P.M. on Saturday.”‘ (3) An amendment can strike out and then insert words. In this case, an amendment could be stated this way: “I move that we amend this motion by striking out the words ‘15-passenger van’ and inserting the word ‘mini-van.’” (4) An amendment can also be used to substitute a new motion on the same subject.

Refer to a Committee

The purpose of referring a motion to committee is to place the pending motion temporarily in the hands of a subgroup for a decision. There are several reasons that motions are referred to a committee including:

1. Getting more information on the matter;

2. Getting direction from the committee;

3. Guaranteeing privacy in sensitive matters;

4. Allowing for more informal discussion than time permits during the meeting;

5. Giving a committee the power to act on behalf of the group by carrying out the group’s desires.

A committee is a group of two or more people. The committee can be defined and special instructions can be given to the members in the motion to refer to committee, or members of the group can specify the composition of a committee via amendments. If the committee is not identified when the motion to refer is passed, the chair should designate the committee, appoint the committee chair, and provide other necessary instructions.

Relevant Information Regarding a Motion to Refer to a Committee

A second is required.

  • The motion to refer to a committee is debatable and amendable.
  • A majority vote is necessary for passage.
  • The motion to refer to a committee may be reconsidered or canceled before the committee meets and discusses the issue.
  • If the committee to which the business has been referred has met and discussed the question, but the full group wishes to bring the item of business back before it for further consideration without the committee’s report, the committee can be discharged. To discharge a committee requires a two-thirds vote. The motion to discharge a committee is debatable but unamendable.
  • A committee report should be written and filed with the secretary when the report is given. A committee report can be for information only, or the committee can make a recommendation based on its deliberations.

Point of Order

The chair of a group should make certain that parliamentary procedure is followed at all times during a meeting and should make sure that any violation of the rules is recognized and not permitted. If the chair fails to correct a violation of rules, then a member of the group can call attention to the violation by using the point of order process.

When a member identifies a violation of rules, he or she should stand and say, “Mr. Chair, I rise to a point of order.” The chair will then say, “State your point.” At that time the member will identify the violation. For example, the member might say, “Sally’s debate is not germane to the pending motion.” Then, the chair would make a ruling regarding the ap­peal, such as “Your point is well made. Sally, your discussion is not pertinent to the motion. If you wish to continue to discuss the motion, make your remarks relevant to the motion.”

Relevant Information Regarding Point of Order

  • A second is not required.
  • It is not debatable (unless the chair asks for a vote) or amendable.
  • Recognition by the chair is not necessary.
  • A member can interrupt the chair or a member speaking from the floor to rise to a point of order.
  • A vote is not required.
  • If a member does not agree with the decision of the chair, he or she may appeal the decision of the chair.
  • A point of order can be reconsidered and canceled.

If the chair is uncertain about the proper procedure, he or she may ask a knowledgeable person to provide advice regarding the issue. The chair may submit the question to the group for a vote. If the chair submits the question for a vote, the floor must be opened for debate. After the chair rules on a point of order, he or she is then obligated to correct the error if a violation was made.

Appeal from the Decision of the Chair

The purpose of appeal from the decision of the chair is to obtain a decision from the group regarding a question on which the chair has made a decision. This provides a safeguard for majority rule and prevents the chair from dominating the actions of the group. An announcement of a vote and an answer to a parliamentary inquiry are not decisions of the chair and therefore cannot be appealed. To question the accuracy of a vote, a member should call for a division of the group (house). If a member believes that the chair has incorrectly answered a parliamentary inquiry, the member should rise to a point of order.

Relevant Information Regarding Appeal from the Decision of the Chair

  • A second is required.
  • It is debatable except in select cases, such as indecorum (improper conduct).
  • Recognition by the chair is not necessary.
  • A member can interrupt the chair or a member speaking from the floor to appeal from the decision of the chair.
  • It cannot be amended.
  • A majority vote or tie vote sustains the decision of the chair.
  • It can be reconsidered and canceled.

Division of the group

The purpose of division of the group (also called “division of the house”) is to determine the accuracy of a vote by requiring that another vote be taken. If a member believes that the chair has incorrectly counted a vote, the member should immediately call for a division of the group by saying “I call for a division of the group” or by saying “Division.”

Relevant Information Regarding Division of the Group

  • A second is not required.
  • It is not debatable or amendable.
  • Recognition by the chair is not necessary.
  • A member can interrupt the chair or a member speaking from the floor to call for a division of the group.
  • No vote is required.
  • It cannot be reconsidered or canceled

Parliamentary Inquiry

The purpose of a parliamentary inquiry is to permit a person to obtain parliamentary information. If a member needs such information, he or she should rise and say, “I rise to a parliamentary inquiry.”

Relevant Information Regarding Parliamentary Inquiry

  • A second is not required.
  • It is not debatable or amendable.
  • Recognition by the chair is not necessary.
  • A member can interrupt the chair or a member speaking form the floor to call for a parliamentary inquiry
  • It cannot be reconsidered or canceled.
  • A vote is not required.

Adjourn

The purpose of the motion to adjourn is to terminate the meeting. It is a privileged motion when unqualified. A privileged motion can be offered at any time. A qualified motion to adjourn (e.g., adjourn in 30 minutes) is a main motion and can be offered only when the floor is open for a main motion.

Relevant Information Regarding a Motion to Adjourn (Unqualified)

  • A second is required.
  • It is not debatable or amendable.
  • A majority vote is required for passage.
  • It cannot be reconsidered or canceled.
  • It cannot be made while voting is taking place.

Lay on the Table

The purpose of the motion to lay on the table is to temporarily delay action on an item of business.

Relevant Information Regarding a Motion to Lay on the Table

  • A second is required.
  • It is not debatable or amendable.
  • A majority vote is required for passage.
  • It cannot be reconsidered or canceled.

When the motion to lay on the table is made and passes, all items on the floor at that time are laid on the table. Some reasons for laying a motion on the table are to attend to more critical business; to give preferential treatment to competing items of business; to allow time to think about the item of business; and to allow time to gain more information regarding the motion before voting on it.

Take from the Table

The purpose of this motion is to bring before the group a question that was previously laid on the table. After the question was laid on the table, at least one item of business must have been transacted before the motion to take from the table can be offered.

There is a time limit on taking a question from the table. A question that has been laid on the table

Relevant Information Regarding a Motion to Take from the Table

  • A second is required.
  • It is not debatable or amendable.
  • A majority vote is required for passage.
  • It cannot be reconsidered or canceled.

It can be taken from the table during the same meeting or at the next meeting. If not taken from the table within these time limits, the question dies on the table. However, it can be reintroduced later as a new motion.

Nominations and Elections

The purpose of elections is to allow the group to select nominees to fill an office or position. The purpose of nominations is to present the names of candidates for a particular office or position within an organization. A majority vote is required to elect.

Specific requirements related to nominations and elections are usually contained in the constitution or the bylaws of an organization. The chair should review the nomination and election procedures with the group before the process begins. Nominations may be made from the floor or by a nominating committee.

Relevant Information Regarding Nominations

  • A second is not required to nominate.
  • If nominations are made by a committee, members of the organization can still make additional nominations from the floor.

Relevant Information Regarding Closing Nominations

  • The chair may close nominations by asking for additional nominations. If there are none, nominations are closed and a vote is taken.
  • A member may move that nominations be closed. The motion requires a second, is not debatable, is amendable as to time only, and requires a two-thirds vote. It cannot be reconsidered.

Relevant Information Regarding Reopening Nominations

  • A second is required.
  • The motion is not debatable.
  • The motion can be amended as to time only.
  • A majority vote is required.
  • Only a negative vote can be reconsidered.

Relevant Information Regarding Elections

  • Candidates are voted on in the order in which they were nominated.
  • A majority vote is required to elect.
  • The most appropriate method of voting is by ballot.
  • Prior to voting, runoff procedures should be developed in the event no candidate receives a majority vote.

Previous Question

The purpose of previous question is to end discussion on a motion or motions and to secure an immediate vote. Previous question should not be confused with question. When a member calls “Question,” he or she is simply indicating a desire to terminate discussion and vote; however, question does not require the chair to terminate debate. If previous question passes, debate is terminated and a vote must be taken.

Relevant Information Regarding Previous Question

  • A second is required
  • It is not debatable or amendable
  • A two-thirds vote is required for passage.
  • It may be reconsidered before an affirmative vote is taken on the pending question.

If a main motion and an amendment are pending on the floor and a member moves previous question, only the immediately pending question is affected. In this case, the immediately pending question is the amendment. If the member was interested in ending debate on both the motion and the amendment, he or she would move “previous question on all pending items of business.” If that motion passed, then an immediate vote would be taken on the amendment and then on the main motion.

Leave to Withdraw or Modify a Motion

The purpose of leave to withdraw or modify a motion is to permit the one who proposed the motion to withdraw the motion from consideration or to permit modification of a motion. Prior to a motion being stated by the chair, it is the property of the person making it, and he or she can withdraw or modify it without the consent of anyone. If the motion is modified before being stated by the chair, the person seconding the motion can withdraw the second. If someone does not second the motion, it dies for want of a second. If the motion has been stated by the chair, the one who proposed the motion usually says, “Madam Chair, permission is requested to withdraw [or modify] my motion.” When a motion is withdrawn, it is the same as if the motion was never proposed.

Relevant Information Regarding Leave to Withdraw or Modify a Motion

  • A second is not required.
  • It is not debatable or amendable.
  • A majority vote is required to grant permission to withdraw or modify a motion after it has been stated by the chair. A common way to grant permission is through general consent.
  • A motion cannot be withdrawn after voting has commenced.
  • A negative vote can be reconsidered, but an affirmative vote cannot be reconsidered.

Reconsider

The purpose of a motion to reconsider is to bring an item previously voted on back to the floor for further discussion and possibly a new vote. The motion to reconsider must be made by a member who voted on the prevailing side (the side that won).

Relevant Information Regarding a Motion to Reconsider

  •  A second is required.
  • The motion to reconsider is debatable if the motion to be reconsidered is debatable.
  • It is unamendable.
  • A majority vote is required.
  • It cannot be reconsidered.
  • The motion can be made only during the same meeting in which it was originally introduced or on the next day.

Rescind

The purpose of rescind is to cancel action that was approved at a previous meeting. Any motion that is passed by a group can be canceled. There is no time limitation. The motion to rescind can be made when no motions are pending.

Relevant Information Regarding a Motion to Rescind

  •  A second is required.
  • It is debatable and amendable.
  • A majority vote is required if previous notice of the proposed action was given. Otherwise a two-thirds vote is required.
  • Only a negative vote can be reconsidered.
  • It cannot be applied to action that cannot be reversed.
  • When the motion to rescind is open to debate, the main question is also open to debate.

Recess

Recess is to take a short intermission during the meeting. Recess does not adjourn the meeting. The motion to recess can be a privileged motion (it is moved while other business is pending) or a main motion (it is moved when no other business is pending). The member desiring to take a recess would say, “I move that we take a recess.” If a recess has been planned in the agenda, there is no need for the motion to recess

Relevant Information Regarding Recess as a Privileged Motion

  • A second is required.
  • It is not debatable.
  • It is amendable as to the length of the recess.
  • A majority vote is required for passage.
  • It can be offered when other motions are pending on the floor.
  • It is not in order when another person has the floor.
  • It cannot be reconsidered.

Relevant Information Regarding Recess as a Main Motion

  • A second is required.
  • It is debatable.
  • It is amendable as to the length of the recess.
  • A majority vote is required for passage.
  • It si snot in order when another person has the floor.
  • It cannot be reconsidered.

Question of Privilege

A question of privilege is a motion that permits a request concerning the rights and privileges of the organization or a member of the organization. It might relate to such things as cooling, heating, or lighting of the meeting room; noise or other disturbances; conduct of members; or conduct of visitors. Questions of privilege are usually handled as privileged motions; therefore, they can be offered when other items of business are pending. As privileged motions, they are usually decided by the chair, and a vote is not taken. They can also be treated as main motions.

Relevant Information Regarding Question of Privilege as a Privileged Motion

  • A second is not required.
  • It may interrupt the speaker if the matter is urgent.
  • It is not debatable or amendable.
  • It cannot be reconsidered.
  • Decision is made by the chair

Relevant Information Regarding Question of Privilege as a Main Motion

  • A second is required.
  • It is debatable and amendable.
  • A majority vote is required for passage.
  • It cannot be reconsidered or canceled.

Call for the Orders of the Day

When one calls for the orders of the day it requires the organization to conform to the order of business or meeting agenda. A member, for example can call for the orders of the day when the items on the agenda are being considered out of the stated sequence.

Relevant Information Regarding Call for the Orders of the Day

  • A second is not required.
  • It is not debatable or amendable.
  • Recognition by the chair is not necessary.
  • A member can interrupt the chair or a member speaking from the floor to call for the orders of the day.
  • A two-thirds vote is required not to follow the orders of the day, or the agenda.
  • It cannot be reconsidered or canceled.

Suspend the Rules

The purpose of the motion to suspend the rules is to allow an organization to temporarily conduct business that would violate its rules. The suspension is in force only while a particular motion is being considered. The motion to suspend the rules may be offered before the item of business is presented, or it may be offered while the item of business is pending. The organization’s constitution, bylaws, and parliamentary law may not be suspended.

Relevant Information Regarding a Motion to Suspend the Rules

  • A second is required.
  • It is not debatable or amendable.
  • A two-thirds vote is required
  • It cannot be reconsidered or canceled.

Object to the Consideration of a Question

The purpose of the motion to object to the consideration of a question is to enable the group to avoid considering a particular motion because it is undesirable for the motion to come before the group. Only main motions can be objected to, and objection must be made before debate has commenced.

Relevant Information Regarding a Motion to Object to the Consideration of a Question

  • A second is not required.
  • It is not debatable or amendable.
  • Recognition by the chair is not necessary.
  • A member can interrupt the chair or a member speaking from the floor to object to the consideration of a question.
  • A two-thirds vote is required to prevent consideration of question.
  • A negative vote (sustaining the objection) can be reconsidered and canceled.

Division of the Question

The purpose of division of the question is to separate the motion into it various parts and then consider and vote on each part separately.

Relevant Information Regarding Division of the Question

  • A second is required.
  • It is not debatable.
  • It may be amended.
  • A majority vote is necessary for passage.
  • It may not be reconsidered or canceled.

Postpone Definitely (or to a Certain Time)

The purpose of the motion to postpone definitely is to defer action on an item of business to a definite day, or a specific meeting, or an exact time, or until a particular event occurs. This motion provides a mechanism to defer action when there is not sufficient time to discuss a motion fully.

Relevant Information Regarding a Motion to Postpone Definitely

  • A second is required.
  • It is debatable and amendable.
  • A majority vote is necessary for passage.
  • It may be reconsidered and canceled.
  • Debate cannot focus on the merits of the main motion but rather on whether the motion should be postponed.
  • When a motion has been postponed to a specific time, it becomes an order of the day for that time.

Postpone Indefinitely

When the group declines to take a position on a pending item of business they should raise a motion to postpone indefinitely.

Relevant Information Regarding a Motion to Postpone Indefinitely

  • A second is required.
  • It is debatable.
  • It is not amendable.
  • A majority vote is necessary for passage.
  • An affirmative vote may be reconsidered and canceled.

Passage of the motion to postpone indefinitely kills the main motion and allows the group to avoid a direct vote on the question.

SUMMARY

Parliamentary procedure is used by a group to facilitate decision making and to assure that the majority has the opportunity to decide what the group will do and how it will function. This chapter examined the essential information that you need to know in order to use parliamentary procedure effectively. It also discussed the most common motions and presented relevant information regarding those motions. Study the “Important Points” section that follows and the “Relevant Information” section related to each motion to review the major concepts included in this chapter.
IMPORTANT POINTS OF PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE

  • Parliamentary procedure is a code of ethics for individuals to follow as they conduct business in groups, especially large groups.
  • Parliamentary procedure is based on democratic principles and majority rule.
  • These are the steps in presenting and disposing of a motion: the member’s rising and addressing the chair; recognition by the chair; presentation of the motion; seconding of the motion; statement of the question by the chair; debate; call for the vote; and announcement of the results of the vote.
  • There are five methods of voting: rising or show of hands; voice; roll call; general consent; and ballot.
  • The chair can vote when the vote is by ballot and in any case where the vote of the chair will change the results.
  • A majority vote is the most common type of vote. A majority is one more than half the votes cast.
  • Some motions are of higher rank than others. This ranking of importance is called “precedence.” Motions are classified into five groups based on precedence: privileged, incidental, subsidiary, unclassified, and main.
  • Privileged motions do not relate to the pending question but take precedence over all other questions because they are of immediate importance. Privileged motions include adjourn, recess, question of privilege, and call for the orders of the day.
  • Incidental motions arise out of another question that is pending on the floor. Therefore, they take precedence over and must be decided on before the question or motion out of which they arise. Incidental motions include appeal from the decision of the chair, point of order, parliamentary inquiry, suspend the rules, withdraw a motion, object to the consideration of a question, division of the question, and division of the group.
  • Subsidiary motions are applied to other motions for the purpose of disposing of them. The following subsidiary motions are arranged in the order of their precedence (the first one having the highest ranking): lay on the table, previous question, postpone definitely, refer to a committee, amend, and postpone indefinitely.
  • Unclassified motions are motions that cannot be classified. In order of precedence, they are take from the table, reconsider, and rescind (cancel).
  • Main motions bring items of business before the group for its consideration and action. Of the five classes of motions, the main motion ranks lowest in precedence, because it cannot be voted on until all other motions have been voted on and disposed of.
  • Only one main motion may be on the floor at a time.
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