Robert's Rules and Motions That Bring a Question Again Before the Assembly - dummies

Robert’s Rules and Motions That Bring a Question Again Before the Assembly

By C. Alan Jennings, PRP, PRP

Among all the rules in Robert’s Rules, few are more important than rules that prevent somebody from incessantly requiring your group to vote over and over on essentially the same motion. There’s a real need for a couple of basic principles of parliamentary law aimed to keep the minority from controlling matters by wearing down the majority:

  • After you’ve disposed of a motion (Motion A), it’s not in order to entertain another motion (Motion B) that proposes essentially the same question as the one already decided (Motion A).

  • Changing something that the assembly has already decided shouldn’t be as easy as making the decision in the first place. Depending on the situation, Robert’s Rules places restrictions on who can ask that a decision be revoted on in the same meeting, and the parliamentary authority requires a higher vote, a notice, or maybe both a higher vote and a notice for motions revisited in later meetings.

Whatever the situation, most of the time when you decide something, you’ve done all the talking you need to do and you’re ready to move on. But that’s not always the case.

Later in a meeting, new information may come up that affects a decision your group has already made. Or something may change over time, and old procedures just no longer work.

Robert’s Rules gives you a way to revisit the questions and change your collective mind. General Robert was an engineer, and he wisely provided a means for your group to dig itself out of a hole without getting too muddy in the process. Whatever the situation, you can find the right tool in the Motions That Bring a Question Again Before the Assembly. These motions are as follows:

  • Reconsider

  • Rescind or Amend Something Previously Adopted

  • Discharge a Committee

  • Take from the Table

This table provides a short rundown of situations in which you use these motions.

When to Use the Motions That Bring a Question Again Before the
If You Want To . . . Then Use . . .
Revote on something you voted on in this meeting Reconsider
Repeal (or strike out) a motion that has been adopted Rescind Something Previously Adopted
Make a change to (or amend) a motion that has been adopted Amend Something Previously Adopted
Take a referred motion out of the hands of a committee Discharge a Committee
Resume considering a motion you laid on the table Take from the Table