[KI-LC] RONR Rules of Quorum
J. Trent Adams
adams at isoc.org
Thu Jan 21 12:28:42 EST 2010
I spent some quality time reading Robert's Rules of Order (RONR) over
the holiday (yeah, I have no life). I'd previously been relying on the
"... in Brief" version, but it was missing some good stuff.
The reason for this note is to share with WG/DG Chairs something I
uncovered regarding the management of quorum during a meeting. While
we'd been operating under the assumption that as long as there is quorum
during a roll call, you're good to conduct business even if enough
people leave to drop out of quorum (until another roll call is made).
Unfortunately... RONR is a bit more strict than that. Basically, as
soon as the Chair becomes aware (by any means) of someone leaving, they
are obligated to act accordingly. The allowable actions without quorum
are: to set the date for the next meeting, recess, take measures to
achieve quorum, and to adjourn. No other actions are permitted.
For example, if there are exactly enough people on a teleconference to
make quorum, and the Chair hears a "leaving beep", he/she must take
appropriate action (which means discussion on the open topic can
continue, but no official action taken on it). The Chair should try to
regain quorum (by pinging members via email/chat/etc.), and adjourn if
unsuccessful. The folks can continue talking, but any further notes
taken must be clear they've been made after adjourning, and be read into
the minutes of the next quorate call for acceptance.
It's possible I've missed something (after all, it's a thick tome), so
I've copied the salient text below in case you spot something I didn't.
Thanks, and happy chairing.
Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised
Chapter XI: Quroum; Order of Business and Related Concepts
If the chair notices the absence of a quorum, it is his duty to declare
the fact, at least before taking any vote or stating the question on any
new motion... Any member noticing the apparent absence of a quorum can
make a point of order to that effect at any time so long as he does not
interrupt a person who is speaking.
Manner of Enforcing the Quorum Requirement
Before the presiding officer calls a meeting to order, it is his duty to
determine, although he need not announce, that a quorum is present. If a
quorum is not present, the chair waits until there is one, or until,
after a reasonable time, there appears to be no prospect that a quorum
will assemble. If a quorum cannot be obtained, the chair calls the
meeting to order, announces the absence of a quorum, and entertains a
motion to adjourn or one of the other motions allowed, as described above.
When the chair has called a meeting to order after finding that a quorum
is present, the continued presence of a quorum is presumed unless the
chair or a member notices that a quorum is no longer present. If the
chair notices the absence of a quorum, it is his duty to declare the
fact, at least before taking any vote or stating the question on any new
motion -- which he can no longer do except in connection with the
permissible proceedings related to the absence of a quorum, as explained
above. Any member noticing the apparent absence of a quorum can make a
point of order to that effect at any time so long as he does not
interrupt a person who is speaking. Debate on a question already pending
can be allowed to continue at length after a quorum is no longer
present, however, until a member raises the point. Because of the
difficulty likely to be encountered in determining exactly how long the
meeting has been without a quorum in such cases, a point of order
relating to the absence of a quorum is generally not permitted to affect
prior action; but upon clear and convincing proof, such a point of order
can be given effect retrospectively by a ruling of the presiding
officer, subject to appeal (24).*
*What happens to a question that is pending when a meeting adjourns
(because of the loss of a quorum or for any other reason) is determined
by the rules given on pages 228-29. If such a question, however, was
introduced as new business and it is proven that there was already no
quorum when it was introduced, its introduction was invalid and, to be
considered at a later meeting, it must again be brought up as new business.
NOTE: The previously referenced allowable actions without quorum are: to
set the date for the next meeting, recess, take measures to achieve
quorum, and to adjourn. No other actions are permitted.
J. Trent Adams
Outreach Specialist, Trust & Identity
e) adams at isoc.org
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