Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR). A brief review of issues encountered while I served as parliamentarian for the LFA (now LFPA) Presented by Ken Lohrentz 5.13.14. Sources.
A brief review of issues encountered while I served as parliamentarian for the LFA (now LFPA)
Robert’s rules of order newly revised/ Henry M Robert [and] Sarah Corbin Robert. (Philadelphia : Da Capo Press, 2011). 11th ed., new and enlarged. lii, 716 p. (RONR)
“The only current authorized edition of the classic work on parliamentary procedure”—p.  of cover.
Robert’s rules of order : newly revised in brief/ Henry M. Robert. (Philadelphia : Da Capo Press, 2011) 2nd ed. vii, 197 p. (RONR in brief)
“The rules you need in a meeting, made simple and easy. The only authorized concise guide.” –p.  of cover.
The Official Robert’s Rules of Order Web Site(www.robertsrules.com)
FAQ’s, question and answer forum, brief history of Robert’s Rules, blurbs on various RONR publications, alternative formats, etc.
Answer: “If the president is a member of the voting body, he or she has exactly the same rights and privileges as all other members have, including the right to make motions, to speak in debate, and to vote on all questions.”
Caveat: “The impartiality required of the presiding officer . . . precludes exercising the rights to make motions or speak in debate while presiding, and also requires refraining from voting except (i) when the vote is by ballot, or (ii) whenever his or her vote will affect the result.”
Source: RONR in brief, p. 110.
Example 1: The vote of the assembly results in a tie vote. The presiding officer may exercise his or her right to vote either by casting an affirmative vote to pass the motion, OR s/he may refrain from voting, which results in a negative vote since a majority of members voting is required for the motion to pass. When a simple majority is required to pass the motion, a tie vote has the same effect as a negative vote.
Example 2: If there is one more vote in the affirmative than in the negative, the chair can create a tie by voting in the negative, thus causing the motion to fail.
Note: At a committee meeting, such as LFPA Exec., the presiding officer may exercise rights and privileges pertaining to voting, participating in debate, and making motions as fully as any other member.
Answer: Only under special circumstances. In one instance, I recall that the assembly wanted to vote a second time on the same motion at the same meeting in order to break a tie vote. This is an infringement of the rules.
When and How can it be done?
i) A motion to reconsider must first be made. If the original motion passed, the motion to reconsider must be made by a member who cast an affirmative vote. If the original motion was defeated, the converse is true. i) A motion to reconsider can only be proposed at the same meeting.ii)If the motion to reconsider is passed, the main motion is again open for debate, amendment, and a new vote that may reverse the original vote.
Circumstances: A motion to reconsider should only be proposed when new information has been brought to the attention of the assembly that impinges on the correctness or integrity of the main motion previously passed.
Source: RONR in brief, pp. 58-60.
Answer: No. However, the continued presence of a quorum is presumed to exist until the chairperson or any other member notes that a quorum is no longer present.
The Chairperson: If the chairperson notices the absence of a quorum, s/he should declare that fact before taking any vote or stating the question on any new motion. Any vote taken without the presence of a quorum may be rescinded by an announcement from the chairperson.
Members: Any member noticing the apparent absence of a quorum can and should make a Point of Order to that effect.
Source: RONR in brief, p. 114.
Explanation: The chairperson has the option of using the rule of “unanimous consent,” particularly in instances where s/he is reasonably certain that the proposed action is noncontroversial.
Procedure: The chairperson may simply ask, “Is there any opposition to the proposal to . . . ? If no opposition is voiced, the proposal is declared as adopted without a vote being taken.
Exception: If only one voice is raised in opposition to the call for unanimous consent, the issue must be opened for debate (assuming the pending motion is debatable) and a vote of the assembly must be taken.
Source: RONR in brief, p. 117.
According to RONR), the procedure of offering a “friendly” amendment is incorrect. The correct procedure is as follows:
A motion is made and seconded.
Before the chairperson states the motion from the floor, it is his/her responsibility to ascertain that a) it is in order, and b) that the motion is clearly phrased. If the motion is unclear, the chairperson should help the mover to reword it before officially stating it.
The chairperson then states the motion by saying, “It has been moved and seconded that. . . .”
Once the chairperson has stated the motion, it is no longer the “property” of the mover, but of the whole assembly.
From that point onwards, any amendment, “friendly” or otherwise, must be adopted by the full assembly, either by a vote or by unanimous consent.
Source: RONR (11th ed.) p. 162, and RONR in brief, pp. 116-117.
Answer: No. The decision to terminate debate is too important for just one person to make alone. It must be submitted to the assembly.
Proper Procedure: Any member who wishes to bring debate to an end must be recognized by the chairperson and then Move the Previous Question as a motion.
Rules for Moving the Previous Question: The motion must be seconded and adopted by 2/3 vote or by unanimous consent. It is NOT debatable.
Note: Rules governing or amending debate of an assembly generally require a 2/3 vote.
Source: RONR in Brief, p. 118.
Answer: No. To quote RONR in brief (p. 115), “The phrase “abstention votes” is an oxymoron, an abstention being a refusal to vote. To abstain means to refrain from voting, and, as a consequence, there can be no such thing as an “abstention vote.”
Explanation: Since what is ordinarily required is a majority or 2/3 of members voting, abstentions are not counted and have no effect on the outcome of the vote.
Exception: If the vote required is a majority or 2/3 of the members present, or a majority or 2/3 of the total membership, abstentions have the same effect as a “no” vote, but are still not counted.
Definition: Rules are the standard procedures adopted by a deliberative body to facilitate the transaction of its official business.
LFPA Rules in order of Precedence
Code and Bylaws
Rules of Order
[Special rules of order, specific to the organization]
Parliamentary authority, i.e., RONR
[Standing rules : administrative details, not of sufficient importance to be added to the organization’s Bylaws]
Custom -- unwritten, informal procedures
Note: To my knowledge, the LFPA has not adopted any special rules of order or standing rules. They are listed here in brackets only to indicate their order of precedence were they to be adopted by the organization.
Answer: Yes. While RONR is widely recognized as the standard work on parliamentary procedure, it is not the only source that can be adopted by a deliberative body to conduct its business.
Problems with RONR: arcane, outdated language and procedures, many of which only apply to larger organizations.
Alternative: Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure/ American Institute of Parliamentarians. (New York : McGraw-Hill, 2012). x, 326 p.
Earlier editions were written by Alice Sturgis; often cited as the Sturgis manual. Based on the principle that “rules should be simplified as much as possible and should be explained in understandable language. “—p. xxiii (4thed, 2001)