Robert’s Rules for Dealing with Incomplete Elections

By C. Alan Jennings, PRP

Despite the best of plans, sometimes your group just can’t finish its order of business in a given meeting or session, even when you use Robert’s Rules. If you run out of time before you’ve elected all the positions you plan to fill, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world — just the end of the meeting! And meetings being what they are, you can be sure you’ll have another one.

With that in mind, if you expect that you’re not going to finish your work, you need to provide for an adjourned meeting in which to conclude your election. However, if your next regular meeting is scheduled within a quarterly time period (see the Appendix) and you’re able to wait, you can also finish your election at the next regular meeting.

If you’re wondering who your officers are either after an election or during an incomplete election, keep the following points in mind:

  • Elections are final immediately upon their conclusion unless the elected person isn’t present and hasn’t consented to serve, or unless the elected person declines to serve when notified of the election, whether present at the time of election or not.
  • An election can’t be reconsidered after it’s finalized.
  • The newly elected officer assumes office immediately unless the bylaws state a specific time for the term of office to commence.
  • If the bylaws require an installation ceremony, failure to conduct the ceremony doesn’t affect the time at which the term commences, nor does it prohibit the candidate from assuming the office.

If your organization fails to complete an election for an office, the current officer might be duty-bound to continue in office until the election is complete. But that isn’t always the case. The bylaws might provide for a specific term ending date, term limits might kick in, or the current officer might just have had enough and decide to step down. In any of those cases, a vacancy in office exists and you will have to check your bylaws or other rules to know what happens when such a vacancy occurs.