Practicing parliamentary procedure
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Practicing Parliamentary Procedure. How can I survive a formal meeting?. Have you ever experienced…. Meetings that seem endless because the business could have been completed hours ago? Confusion as to what exactly is being discussed and voted on?

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Practicing Parliamentary Procedure

How can I survive a formal meeting?

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Have you ever experienced…

  • Meetings that seem endless because the business could have been completed hours ago?

  • Confusion as to what exactly is being discussed and voted on?

  • Irritation because one person or a small group of people dominate a meeting?

  • The feeling that you never get your voice heard in group discussion?

  • Anger about decisions made that do not reflect the feelings of the majority of the group?

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Let’s put a stop to the Frustration !

  • How? Use parliamentary Procedure

    • What is Parliamentary Procedure?

    • Why use Parliamentary Procedure?

    • The Importance of an Agenda

    • The Role of the Members

    • Basic Parliamentary Procedure Skills

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What is Parliamentary Procedure?

  • Set of rules and guidelines that allow the following:

    • Majority rules

    • Minority is heard

    • Handling one item at a time

    • Maintains order

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Why use Parliamentary Procedure?

  • Focus on one item at a time

    - no more than one issue will be discussed

  • Extend courtesy to everyone

    - all members have an opportunity to participate

  • Observe the rule of the majority

    - no group decision is granted without majority

  • Ensure the rights of the minority

    - all members have equal access to decision-making

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The Importance of an Agenda

  • An agenda is a formal listing of the business that is to be conducted at a meeting

  • The agenda must be approved by the membership at the start of the meeting in order to follow it

  • Whenever possible, an agenda should be presented to membership well in advance of the meeting for membership review

  • REMEMBER – a well-planned agenda is critical to a well run, organized meeting

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Sample Agenda

  • Each individual organization needs to adopt an order of business to be used at every meeting – if it has not, the official order is as follows:

    1. Reading and approval of the minutes of the

    previous meeting

    2. Reports of standing committees and officers

    3. Reports of any special committees

    4. Special orders (guest speakers, etc.)

    5. Unfinished business

    6. New Business

    7. Adjournment

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FFA Meeting Sample Agenda:

1. Opening Ceremonies

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

3. Officer Reports (Treasurer, Reporter, etc.)

4. Vice-President Report on Chapter Program of


5. Special Features (guest speakers, videos, team-

building activities, etc.)

6. Unfinished Business

7. Committee Reports

8. New Business

9. Ceremonies

10. Closing Ceremonies

11. Entertainment, Recreation, Refreshments

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The Role of Members

  • Follow the leadership of the chair

  • It is the the responsibility of the membership of any organization to establish and maintain effective meeting structure

  • Every member has the right and responsibility to participate in meetings and the process of parliamentary procedure (voting, debating)

  • Members must educate themselves regarding the Constitution and By-Laws of the group

  • REMEMBER – Strong group discussion and interaction leads to strong decisions made by the group

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Duties of the Chair

  • To use Parliamentary Procedure

  • To follow the agenda

  • To follow the order of business for a meeting

  • Dispose of motions

    • Recognize persons wishing to gain the floor

  • Maintain order

  • State or restate motions

  • Inform the group of the requirements of a motion

  • Count votes

  • State outcome of a vote

  • Call for old or new business

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Getting Down to Business…

  • Parliamentary Procedure and the rules that govern the conducting of business is based on motions

  • The key to Parliamentary Procedure is learning and using these motions during meetings

    **Refer to handout entitled “Summary of Motions”

  • Do not be intimidated by the list of motions – anyone can learn to use these motions; the strongest organizations educate their members on the use of these tools

  • REMEMBER – Using Parliamentary Procedure

    correctly takes practice and effort!!

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History of Parliamentary Procedure

  • Better known as “Robert’s Rules of Order.”

  • Written by Henry M. Robert in 1876.

  • First revised in 1915.

  • Last revised in 1990.

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How do we get things done?

  • Through Motions

  • Types or classifications of motions

    • Main Motions

    • Privileged Motions

    • Incidental Motions

    • Subsidiary Motions

    • Unclassified (Bring Back)

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Classification of Motions

  • Main Motion (1) – used to bring up a new subject or idea to the group

  • Privileged Motions (5) – do not relate to a pending question, however are of such great importance that they take precedence of all other questions (motions)

  • Incidental Motions (8) – arise from another question that is pending and must be decided before the question out of which they arise (are made as the result of another motion)

  • Subsidiary Motions (7) – applied to other motions for the purpose of appropriately disposing of them

  • Unclassified (3) – have a definite purpose but are not classified as any other

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  • The floor: point where attention of meeting should be focused.

  • Germane: discussion or motion pertains to main motion being considered.

  • Quorum: amount of members present required to conduct a meeting.

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Other considerations

  • The taps of the gavel (symbol of leadership, represents chair’s authority).

    • 1 tap: be seated, announce vote.

    • 2 taps: call to order

    • 3 taps: all rise

    • Series of taps: restore order

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Other Considerations

  • The two-thirds vote:

    • Motions that require a two-thirds vote are those that limit or eliminate the members’ rights in some way.

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** Main Motions **

  • Means of introducing business to a meeting.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Is debatable

    • Is amendable

    • Majority vote

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Anatomy of a Main Motion

  • Always starts with “I move…”

  • May be prefaced

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Seconding a motion

  • Seconding ensures the following:

    • Get on record as supporting motion.

    • Puts the motion to a vote.

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Debating a motion

  • Raise concerns about the motion.

  • Persuade others to vote one way or another.

  • Provide information about motion.

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Amending a Motion

  • Allows for changes to a main motion to appease both sides or improve the motion.

  • Ways to amend….

    • Striking out

    • Inserting

    • Striking out and inserting

    • Adding

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  • No more than two amendments can be considered at one time.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Debatable

    • Amendable

    • Majority Vote

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Main Motion

Main Motion – used to bring items of business to the group; can not be used if any other motion is on the floor

**The only acceptable way to start a motion is to say…

“I move…”

*recognition required

“M/M President, I move that we take a trip to City Hall to learn about our city’s government.”

*second required, debatable and amendable, majority vote

(the main motion is the lowest ranking of all motions)

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Putting it All Together…

A common “agenda item” might look like this…

President: “Is there any new business…The chair recognizes


John: “M/M President, I move that we use Parliamentary Law

according to Robert’s Rules of Order at all of our


Sue: “I second that motion.”

President: “Is there any discussion?”

(blah, blah, blah)

President: “Seeing no further discussion, we will now proceed

to vote. All those in favor say “Aye”; all opposed

same sign. Motion passes.”

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Voting on a Motion

  • Can be done by the following means:

    • Voice

    • Visual—Show of hands or standing

    • Ballot

    • Roll call

    • Mechanical device

    • General (Unanimous) Consent

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Other Considerations

  • Types of votes:

    • Simple majority: one more than half the votes cast.

    • 2/3 majority

    • Plurality: the most votes received, but not always a simple majority.

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** Privileged Motions **

  • Motions that fulfill individual needs or the interest of the group individually.

  • Motions do not pertain directly to the business being discussed.

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Privileged Motions

  • Include the following:

    • Fix Time to Which to Adjourn

    • Adjourn

    • Recess

    • Raise a Question of Privilege

    • Call for Orders of the Day

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Fix Time to Which to Adjourn

  • Set date and time to adjourn meeting

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • NON-Debatable

    • Amendable

    • Majority Vote

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  • Privileged motion that ends current meeting immediately.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Non-debatable

    • Non-amendable

    • Majority vote

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  • Temporary break in a meeting.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Non-debatable

    • Amendable to time only

    • Majority vote

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Raise a question of Privilege

  • Secures comfort/convenience for members.

  • Requires:

    • Nothing. Question posed by member is decided upon by the chair.

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Call for Orders of the Day

  • Demand compliance with agenda, or seek information on order or agenda.

  • Requires:

    • Nothing. Addressed by chair when posed by member.

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Privileged Motions

1. Adjourn – allows the meeting to be officially over

*gain recognition from chair

“Mr./Madame President, I move to adjourn the meeting.”

*second required, not debatable, not amendable, majority vote

2. Question of Privilege –

may be a group or personal request from the chair

*no recognition needed

“M/M President, I rise to a group question of privilege – it is difficult to hear you would you please speak up?”

*no second, not debatable or amendable, no vote

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Privileged Motions (cont.)

3. Fix a Time To Which to Adjourn – allows for a continuance of the current meeting when it is obvious the meeting will not end in the allowable time frame

“M/M President, seeing we will be unable to finish today’s business in the time available, I move that when we adjourn we stand adjourned until 3:00 pm tomorrow.”

4. Recess – a short break or intermission in the proceedings which does not close the meeting

*gain recognition from chair

“M/M President, I move that we take a five minute recess to gather our thoughts on this matter.”

*second required, not debatable, is amendable as to time only, majority vote

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Privileged Motions (cont.)

  • 5. Call for the Orders of the Day – used when the group deviates from the agenda and you would like to follow the agenda

    *no recognition needed, not debatable or amendable

    “M/M President, I call for the orders of the day.”

    President then asks the secretary to read the orders (agenda)

    President then asks members if there are objections to following the orders of the day

    If there are objections, a vote must be taken and need 2/3 vote of the membership to not follow the orders of the day

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** Incidental Motions **

  • Motions that:

    • Correct ill-advised actions

    • Correct improper use of parliamentary procedure.

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Include the following:

Object to the Consideration of Question

Appeal from the Decision of the Chair

Rise to a Point of Order

Withdraw a Motion

Suspend the Rules

Call for Division of the House

Rise to Parliamentary Inquiry

Incidental Motions

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Object to the Consideration of Question

  • Stops offensive or inappropriate measures.

  • Requires:

    • NO Second

    • Non-Debatable

    • Non-Amendable

    • Two-thirds Vote

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Appeal from the Decision of the Chair

  • Allows members to overrule chair

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Debatable only if motion being overruled was debatable

    • NON-Amendable

    • Majority Vote

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Rise to a Point of Order

  • Have parliamentary errors corrected.

  • Requires:

    • Nothing. Error presented by member is decided by the chair.

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Rise to Parliamentary Inquiry

  • Check on parliamentary questions, or ask how to carry out a parliamentary ability.

  • Requires:

    • Nothing. Question presented by member is address by the chair.

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Call for a Division of the House

  • Requires countable vote, if voice vote was announced incorrectly by chair.

  • Can only be called for after vote has been announced.

  • Requires:

    • Nothing. Addressed by chair upon being called.

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Withdraw a Motion

  • Retracts motion proposed. Can only be moved by member or proposed motion being withdrawn.

  • Requires:

    • Nothing. If chair asks for objections and there is none, withdraw stands. If there is an objection, a majority vote is needed for passage.

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Suspend the Rules

  • Make exceptions to by-laws of organization’s constitution.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Non-Debatable

    • Non-Amendable

    • Two-thirds Vote

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Incidental Motions

6. Point of Order – made when a member of the assembly makes a parliamentary error

*no recognition needed

“M/M President, I rise to a point of order.”

President asks member to state his/her point

Member states parliamentary error and chairperson agrees or disagrees

*no second, not debatable or amendable, no vote

7. Appeal – used when member feels that the chairperson has made a decision not in agreement with the group

*no recognition needed

Chairman says the group was volunteered to clean all of main street

“M/M President, I appeal the decision of the chair.”

*requires second, is debatable but not amendable, majority vote

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Incidental Motions (cont.)

8. Suspend the Rules – used to deviate from the agenda or allow for special circumstances

*need recognition

“M/M President, I move to suspend the rules so that our guest speaker may speak at this time.”

*requires a second, is not debatable or amendable, 2/3 vote

9. Division of the House –

used when a member disagrees with the vote result stated by the chair

*no recognition needed

“I call for the Division of the House!”

President then calls for a revote – any other than voice and states result

*no second, not debatable or amendable, no vote

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Incidental Motions (cont.)

10. Parliamentary Inquiry –

used when there is a question about parliamentary law

*no recognition needed

“I raise a parliamentary inquiry.”

President then asks member to state his/her inquiry

“Is this motion debatable?”

President responds

*no second, not amendable or debatable, no vote

11. Withdraw – used when a member wishes to withdraw his/her motion

Member may say “I withdraw my motion” before President restates it and it is dropped.

If the President restates the motion, requires a majority vote by the members to withdraw it.

*no second, not debatable or amendable, no vote

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Incidental Motions (cont.)

12. Division of the Question - used when a member feels the motion is really two motions in one

*recognition required

Example: “M/M President, I move that our group have a bake sale for a fundraiser and we go out for pizza after our meeting.”

“M/M President, this motion is really two motions in one. Therefore, I move to divide the question into two parts; the first stating that we have a bake sale and the second stating that we go out for pizza after our meeting.”

*second required, not debatable but is amendable as to how the question is divided, majority vote

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Incidental Motions (cont.)

13. Object to the Consideration of the Question – allows group to avoid a motion entirely if they feel it would not be in the best interest of the group to consider it

*no recognition, must be made before president restates the motion

“M/M President, I object to the consideration of the question!”

*A 2/3 vote is then required to pass this motion and if done so, the motion is dropped

*no second required, not debatable or amendable

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** Subsidiary Motions **

  • Motions that alter, change or dispose of main motions.

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Subsidiary Motions

  • Include the following:

    • Lay on the Table

    • Call for Previous Question

    • Postpone Definitely

    • Refer to a Committee

    • Amend

    • Postpone Indefinitely

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Lay on the Table

  • Delays motion briefly, until taken from table.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Non-debatable

    • Non-amendable

    • Majority vote

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Call for Previous Question

  • Ends debate immediately.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Non-debatable

    • Non-amendable

    • Two-thirds vote

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Postpone Definitely

  • Delays motion to a certain time.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Debatable

    • Amendable

    • Majority vote

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Refer to a Committee

  • Assign main motion to a committee.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Debatable

    • Amendable

    • Majority vote

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Refer to a Committee

  • Two types of committees:

    • Standing.

    • Ad Hoc, or special committee appointed by the chair.

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Refer to a Committee

  • Reasons for referring to a committee:

    • Gather more information

    • Act on a motion

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Postpone Indefinitely

  • Kills motion without a direct vote.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Debatable

    • NON-Amendable

    • Majority Vote

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Subsidiary Motions

14. Lay on the Table – used to postpone decision on the motion until the next meeting (at the latest)

*requires recognition

“M/M President, I move to lay this motion on the table.”

*requires second, not debatable or amendable, majority vote

15. Previous Question – used when member wants an immediate vote

*requires recognition

“M/M President, I move the previous question (on all pending matters.)

*requires second, not debatable or amendable, 2/3 vote

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Subsidiary Motions (cont.)

16. Postpone Definitely – used to remove an issue from the floor to be brought up at the next meeting

*recognition required

“M/M President, I move to postpone this motion to our next regularly scheduled meeting.”

*second required, is debatable and amendable as to time, majority vote

17. Limit/Extend Debate – used to increase or decrease debate/discussion

*recognition required

“M/M President, I move to limit/extend debate to five minutes per side/three debates per member.”

*second required, not debatable or amendable, 2/3 vote

Standard debate rules are twice per motion/ten minutes per debate

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Subsidiary Motions (cont.)

18. Refer to Committee – used to allow a committee to do more research or look into an issue more

**May be a standing committee or special committee

**Must state number of members on committee

**The power the committee is given (to act, or report back)

**How the committee is selected (appointed, volunteer, etc.)

**Must address who the chair will be if not a standing comm.

“M/M President, I move to refer this motion to a committee of three, appointed by the chair, chair appointed by the chair, giving them the power to act.”

*recognition, second, is debatable and amendable, majority vote required

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Subsidiary Motions (cont.)

19. Amendment – used to change a motion, but never the intent of the motion

** Three ways to amend a motion:

1. Addition – adding a word or phrase

2. Subtraction (striking out) – removal of part of the motion

but not to change the intent

3. Substitution – removing part of the motion and inserting a

new word or phrase

“M/M President, I move to amend the motion by adding the words “and we pay our own way.”

**motions can only be amended twice, require recognition, a second, are debatable & amendable, and a majority vote

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Subsidiary Motions (cont.)

20. Postpone Indefinitely – used to remove an issue from debate permanently (not postponed, dropped)

*requires recognition

“M/M President, I feel this motion should not be considered by our group, therefore I move to postpone this motion indefinitely.”

*second required, is debatable but not amendable, majority vote

The motion may be brought up again, but is not required to be through the power of this motion

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** Unclassified Motions **

  • Motions that do not fit other parliamentary categories

  • Motions usually pertain to actions already taken at previous meetings.

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Unclassified Motions

  • Include the Following:

    • Reconsider

    • Rescind

    • Take from the Table

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Correct ill-advised or erroneous action.

Member who moves to reconsider must have been on prevailing side of motion being reconsidered.





Majority Vote


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  • Revoke or nullify previous action.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Debatable

    • Amendable

    • Two-thirds Vote

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Take from the Table

  • Resume consideration of tabled motion.

  • Requires:

    • Second

    • Non-debatable

    • Non-amendable

    • Majority Vote

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Unclassified Motions

22. Take from the Table – used to bring a motion that was previously tabled back on the floor

*requires recognition

“M/M President, I move to take from the table the motion concerning our raffle fundraiser that was tabled at our last meeting.”

*requires second, not debatable or amendable, majority vote

**If motion passes, the chair states that the motion is back on the floor in its debatable and amendable form. Then asks for discussion

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Unclassified Motions (cont.)

23. Rescind – allows a member to remove some action previously taken

*requires recognition

“M/M President, I move to rescind the motion which states we take a field trip to City Hall.”

*requires second, D & A, 2/3 vote

**The member making this motion must have been on the side of the prevailing vote

*requires recognition, is debatable

“M/M President, I move to reconsider the motion stating that we hire a new parliamentarian.”

President would then ask if member was on prevailing side and mention that motion is back on the floor

24. Reconsider – allows discussion and a revote on action previously taken

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Common errors!

Saying “I make a motion…” instead of “I move…”

Counting the votes of each person present instead of only members in good standing!

Not gaining proper recognition of the chair.

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Common errors!

Saying “I so move” after the presentation of an item instead of restating the item in the correct form of a motion.

Just because a member makes or seconds a motion does not mean they are required to vote in favor, or at all!

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Common errors!

Using improper grammar: ex. Asking if there are any additions, subtractions or corrections to the minutes. Obviously, additions and subtractions are corrections, just ask for corrections.

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Common errors!

Using the motion “Lay on the Table” to kill a motion is incorrect and should be ruled out of order!

When making the motion to amend, the person making the motion should not state how it would read after the change.