Committees According to Robert's Rules
Robert's Rules for Referring a Motion to Committee
Robert's Rules on Absentee Voting

Robert's Rules and Requests

Some incidental motions make it possible to handle, in an orderly manner, just about anything that’s requested. Robert’s Rules covers three specific situations — Request for Information, Request to Withdraw a Motion, and Request to Read Papers.

Request for Information

A Request for Information needs to be addressed to the chair or through the chair. The goal of this motion is to get information. When you have the information you seek, business can proceed.

A Request for Information

  • Can interrupt a speaker who has the floor if immediate attention is required

  • Doesn’t need to be seconded

  • Isn’t debatable

  • Can’t be amended

  • Requires no vote be taken

  • Can’t be reconsidered

Request to Withdraw a Motion

A time may come when you make a motion that turns out to be just a bad idea; you don’t really want it to be considered, but the chair has stated the motion, and it now technically belongs to the group. In situations like this, a special request is available only to you, as the maker of the motion. You can request that the motion be withdrawn (or changed).

The chair then needs only to announce that you have made the request and ask for unanimous consent.

If someone objects, the chair can put the question to a vote, or you or any member can move that the assembly grant the request to withdraw the motion. Then the chairman puts the Question to Withdraw the Motion to a vote just like any other motion.

If your Request to Withdraw a Motion is granted, the parliamentary situation is no different than if the motion hadn’t been made in the first place, so you can make your motion again at the same meeting.

A Request to Withdraw a Motion

  • Can interrupt a speaker who has the floor if immediate attention is required

  • Doesn’t need to be seconded unless formally proposed by the member making the request

  • Isn’t debatable

  • Can’t be amended

  • Requires a majority vote

  • Can be reconsidered if it’s a vote to modify a motion or a negative vote

Request to Read Papers

As a means of protecting a group from any member who wants to read a lengthy item in connection with debate on a motion, it’s out of order to “read papers” if anybody objects, unless the permission of the group is obtained.

Robert’s Rules recognizes that sometimes a quick excerpt of some factual material may be pertinent and acceptable, so reading papers isn’t expressly forbidden. But it must be done with the consent of the members.

If you think that the members need to have some information that requires you to read something, state that you have something you want to read “if no one objects.” Be sure to tell the group what the material is and how long it is.

If someone objects, the chair asks the members, “Ms. Smart would like to read [state the item]. What is the pleasure of the assembly?” If the members agree to listen (by either unanimous consent or majority vote), read your material. If they don’t agree, don’t try to force it. It’s just not worth the price of their goodwill.

This rule can’t be used to limit the ability to have material that is before the group for adoption read during consideration. Reading from papers generally refers to reading material with the purpose of bolstering a position in debate. If the question is on the adoption of a report or resolution, expect to have the report or resolution read aloud so you know exactly what you’re voting on.

A Request to Read Papers

  • Can interrupt a speaker who has the floor if immediate attention is required

  • Doesn’t need to be seconded unless formally proposed by the member making the request

  • Isn’t debatable

  • Can’t be amended

  • Requires a majority vote

  • Can be reconsidered if it’s a vote to modify a motion

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