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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How Much Does the Average Person Understand 'Roberts Rule of Order'?

Robert's Rules of Order, a book by Henry Martyn Robert, was first published in 1876 and is the most widely-used manual of parliamentary procedure in America. The original page count was 669. The latest edition is entitled Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised and was authored by Henry M. Robert III. The latest edition is in paperback (Publisher: Da Capo Press), 816 pages, and continues to maintain its dominance over all others of its type.

In spite of its longevity and popularity, many people are not knowledgeable or comfortable with its organized message. Those of us who grew up in the United Methodist Youth Group and went on to hold offices on the church Board, became very much aware of the procedures of Robert's Rules. Without some form of common pattern of conduct, it is very difficult, indeed, to get much done when no one is calling for "order."

One of the biggest violations of Robert's Rules is the one that says:
"A motion must be made and seconded to initiate discussion..."  
Motions are statements that describe a proposed action or decision. Although the formality of Robert’s Rules can seem cumbersome, the process of making motions ensures that no decision is accepted without the opportunity for discussion and a vote. Typically the motion making process progresses as follows: A member of the group proposes a motion: “I move that…”
• Motions require that a second member of the group agrees to consider the proposal to ensure that the proposal is meaningful to more than one person. A member of the group chooses to second: “I second” or “I second for discussion” if you want to be clear that you are not in support but want to entertain a conversation about the proposal.
• Without a second the motion will die. Once the group has had a chance to speak in favor or against the motion, the Chairman will lead a vote.
Types of Motions 

Main motion - A motion must be made and seconded to initiate discussion on an issue (a limited amount of discussion may be allowed at the discretion of the Chairman prior to a motion being made). Motions are projected onto a screen for all to see before being voted on. 
Substitute motion - Used to propose an alternative action to the main motion. Up to one main and two substitute motions may be on the floor at one time. If a substitute motion passes, it does away with the prior motions. If it fails, the previous motion comes back up for consideration. 
Friendly amendments - These are editorial changes that may be allowed if nobody objects. However, any member may object and deny such requests. 
Call the question – A motion to end debate and vote on the motion at hand. If seconded and passed, the main motion is then voted on. If no second or fails, discussion continues. (The Chair can choose to end debate.) 
Motion to table - Non-debatable. If seconded, discussion ends and must be voted on immediately. A subsequent motion to take from the table is required to reopen discussion. 
Motion to reconsider – Can only be made by a member on the prevailing side of a previous vote. If seconded and passed, it rescinds the previous vote and brings the motion back for discussion. 

Methods of Voting 
Adopt by consensus: If there is no opposition or only one or two opposed
Voice vote: Ayes vs. nays
Show of hands: Keep hands raised until Chair and staff have completed counting 
Roll call vote: Only used if requested by a voting member
Secret ballot: Only used to elect Chair and Vice-Chair.
---Taken directly from Robert’s "Rules of Order – A Quick Guide to Motions 
and Voting" published by Gulf of Mexico Fishing Management Council

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