According to the EAC Bylaws, “Meetings shall be conducted by Robert’s Rules of Order as interpreted by Robert’s Rules in Plain English by Doris P. Zimmerman.” We use Robert’s Rules in order to protect (a) the right of the majority to decide, (b) the right of the minority to be heard, and (c) the rights of individual members. This document summarizes some of the important components of Robert’s Rules of Order.
Steps to Make and Handle a Motion
- A member who wishes to make a motion requests, and obtains, recognition from the Chair to speak.
- The member makes a motion.
- Another member seconds the motion. [Note that a motion from an EAC Standing Committee is considered seconded once it is moved.]
- The Chair states the motion.
- The members debate the motion. [A debatable motion should continue as long as members wish to debate it. A two-thirds vote is required to suspend debate.]
- The Chair puts the question to a vote, asking all in favor to say “Aye” and all opposed to say “No” and, when relevant, asking for abstentions.
- The Chair announces the result of the vote.
Once a motion has been seconded and discussion has begun, it may become apparent that a re-wording of the motion will result in more clarity and better represent the desired goals. In such a case, a “friendly amendment” can be adopted by consent, as long as there are no objections. If there is an objection to the amendment or if it’s “hostile” (i.e., if it substantively changes the meaning of the motion), then a majority vote is required to adopt the amendment.
Whenever an act takes away or limits members’ rights (e.g., ending debate or limiting discussion-time), a two-thirds vote is required. A two-thirds vote is also required for motions that change the EAC Bylaws.
Silence is Consent
A majority means a majority of members voting (as opposed to a majority of council members or a majority of those present). So members who abstain are agreeing to go along with the majority, i.e., abstentions don’t count.