Department of Illinois Parliamentary Tid-Bits
The governing documents of the Unit, County, District, Division, Department and National Organization determine who we are and how we operate. These are the Constitution, Bylaws, and Standing Rules. They all contain an article about Parliamentary Authority. For example, the District includes the following:
Current edition, Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, shall govern in all matters not specified in the Constitution and Bylaws of the organization.
• is a set of rules for conducting meetings
• allows everyone a chance to be heard and make decisions
• Uses Robert’s Rules
This is a system developed by Henry M. Robert in 1876 to assure democratic rule, flexibility, protection of rights (majority and minority), fair hearing for everybody and prevent chaos.
MOTIONS enable business to be conducted. The following are common motions used in meetings:
Point of Order – Error in Parliamentary Procedure
Point of Personal Privilege – Too hot, can’t hear
Previous Question (2/3s vote) – Stop debate
Lay on the Table – Later in same session (something more important is at hand)
Postpone Definitely – At another session
Postpone Indefinitely – The motion is dead.-
Refer to Committee – Research, information
Limit Debate – Shorten or extend time
Amend: insert, strike, strike and insert, substitute – Change the words
Division – Count votes
Most motions require a majority vote; those that require you to give up your rights, like the right to debate, require a 2/3s vote. In order to know how many votes there are you establish VOTING STRENGTH at the beginning of your meeting. This is done through the roll call and/or sign-in. Your Bylaws state who can vote (officers, delegates, past presidents, chairmen, etc.) A count of those eligible to vote at each meeting should be reported at the beginning of the meeting. Then there is no question as to whether a motion passes or fails. Do not depend on whose voices are the loudest; ask for DIVISION (counted votes) if you are unsure.
POWER OF THE CHAIR
The Chair has a great deal of power.
• Decides order to recognize speakers
• Can refuse to recognize speakers
• Reminds or cuts off in accord with time rules
• Appoints committees
• Enforces decorum
• Decides points of order
• Votes (always in ballot voting; waits until all have voted for a roll call vote. A tie vote loses, but the
chair can make the difference if it’s a majority vote situation.)
• Avoids comments on a motion that might influence the vote
Members are to support the presiding officer; after all, they elected her. “Warm fuzzies” and positive suggestions encourage the creation of an Internal Culture of Goodwill. However, Parliamentary Procedure gives you the tools to use if necessary to keep power in check.
A meeting without structure is like sailing without a compass – you spend a lot of time getting nowhere.
If you have questions, just ask. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll consult Robert or a parliamentarian.