Robert's Rules and Motions Related to Methods of Voting and the Polls - dummies

Robert’s Rules and Motions Related to Methods of Voting and the Polls

By C. Alan Jennings, PRP, PRP

Whenever you want to vote on a motion using another method of voting, you use a motion related to the method of voting. And whenever you want to specify when voting will take place, you use a motion related to the polls.

A motion related to voting and the polls

  • Can’t interrupt a speaker who has the floor

  • Must be seconded

  • Isn’t debatable

  • Can be amended

  • Requires a majority vote (except for closing the polls, which requires a two-thirds vote)

  • Can be reconsidered if it’s a negative vote on a motion to reopen the polls

Motions related to the method of voting or the polls are in order as incidental motions anytime an election is pending or when a vote is about to be taken on a motion. They are incidental main motions if no other business is pending.

Select a method of voting

As is the case with many incidental motions, the method for voting often can be decided informally by general consent. A good presiding officer sometimes simply calls for a ballot, which is approved by unanimous consent, or can call for a counted vote on her own accord.

But if, for whatever reason, you want to use one of these forms or another voting method, such as a roll call or signed ballot, you can make the motion upon obtaining recognition by the chair.

Open or close the polls

Usually associated with balloting, the motion to close the polls is best left to be handled by the presiding officer. Seeing that all who want to vote have done so, she simply declares the polls closed.

But if someone comes into the meeting who hasn’t voted, and if the votes haven’t been counted (and the results haven’t been announced), it’s perfectly permissible to allow latecomers to vote. But if the polls have been formally closed either by motion and vote or by declaration of the chair, they can be opened only by majority vote (or unanimous consent) to permit the latecomers to cast their ballots.

Sometimes a group’s bylaws prescribe that a vote be by ballot. In this case, changing the form of voting is not in order because even the unanimous consent of everyone in the meeting can’t compromise a member’s right to secrecy.

Similarly, an election that’s required to be conducted by ballot can’t be held by a voice vote even if there’s only one nominee or candidate because such a change compromises a member’s right to cast a write-in vote.

Ballot voting obtains the truest expression of the will of your membership on a question, so when it’s prescribed, it must be used.