Most Common Robert’s Rules Of Order FAQs Answered

Understanding Robert's Rules of Order is essential in the world of meetings and decision-making. Yet navigating its complexities can be challenging. With some luck, these FAQs will help provide clarity and practical insights for smoother and more efficient meetings.

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Understanding Robert’s Rules of Order is essential in the world of meetings and decision-making. Yet navigating its complexities can be challenging. With some luck, these FAQs will help provide clarity and practical insights for smoother and more efficient meetings.


Robert’s Rules of Order FAQs Answered

Robert’s Rules of Order contains the standard parliamentary procedures that most organizations use. However, many people, including organization leaders, still have unanswered questions. Here, we shed some light on the most common FAQs concerning Robert’s Rules.



Here are the Robert’s Rules of Order frequently asked questions on motions.


Q: What is the proper way to make a motion?

A: When making a motion, one should use phrases like “I move to…” or “I move that…” followed by a clear statement of the desired action. The chair then calls for a second by saying, “Is there a second to the motion?” If seconded, the chair opens the floor for debate or discussion on the motion.


Q: Does a resolution need a second?

A: Yes, if a single member proposes a resolution, it requires a second. However, if a committee with multiple members votes to present a resolution to the membership, a second is not necessary.


Q: Do you need to vote to table a motion after it gets a second?

A: Yes, all motions made and seconded, including the motion to lay on the table, require a vote. The motion to table, or lay on the table, should be voted on immediately without debate. It’s crucial to distinguish this motion from the motion to postpone, which is debatable and used to delay a motion to a later time. The motion to lay on the table is undebatable and reserved for temporarily setting aside urgent business.


Q: If a member calls the question during a motion debate, does it immediately cease?

A: No, halting a debate requires a specific procedure. The member must gain the floor, receive an acknowledgment from the chair, and propose the motion for the Previous Question. This motion necessitates a second and approval by either a two-thirds majority vote or unanimous consent.

Interjecting with exclamations like “Question” or “Call the Question” to disrupt a speaker is not permissible. Even in the absence of a current speaker, a member must seek formal recognition before proceeding with the motion.


Q: Can you reintroduce a rejected motion?

A: Generally, you can’t reintroduce a defeated main motion at the same meeting unless a member from the prevailing side moves to reconsider the vote or if circumstances change. However, members can bring up the motion again at a subsequent meeting, a process known as renewing the motion.



Here are the Robert’s Rules of Order FAQs on the president’s role.


Q: Can the board president refuse a member-guest permission to speak at a board meeting?

A: Typically, board meetings take place in executive session (except for HOAs), limited to board members unless a guest receives an invitation or there’s an open meeting policy. If invited, the guest can speak on a specific issue and answer questions but cannot participate in the debate afterward.


Q: Is conducting business after the meeting adjourns permissible?

A: No, conducting business after official adjournment is unethical and undemocratic. Any actions taken afterward are null and void.


Q: If the president excludes certain items from the agenda, can a member introduce them during the meeting?

A: Yes, a member can introduce items omitted from the agenda by the president. The agenda should reflect the collective needs of the organization, not the president’s preferences. The president’s role is to lead impartially, following a standard order of business, as in Robert’s Rules of Order. Any unfinished business from the previous meeting should be part of the agenda, and if overlooked, a member can raise a parliamentary inquiry to address it.


Q: Does the board president have the power to prevent presenting an issue before the board?

A: No, unless specified by a written rule. The president may rule a motion out of order if it conflicts with bylaws, the corporate charter, or relevant laws. Alternatively, they can object to considering the question, but this doesn’t block the motion from reaching the board; it requires a vote from the remaining members.


Q: Does the chair always have the final say in discussions?

A: Not typically. However, there is an exception with debatable appeals to the chair’s ruling, where parliamentary rules grant the presiding officer the first and last right to speak. The presiding officer also has the final word in adjourning a meeting, but other members must agree to it.


Q: Can the president propose or second a motion?

A: It depends. In a board meeting with fewer than 12 members (unless stated otherwise), the president can make motions, second them, discuss them, and vote on them. In a general membership meeting, the president should remain impartial and abstain from making or seconding motions.

However, exceptions exist. For example, the president can facilitate motions related to the treasurer’s bill payments or when handing over the chair to the vice president temporarily.


Secretary and Minutes

Here are Robert’s Rules of Order FAQs on the secretary’s role.


Q: What should meeting minutes include? Do they vary based on the type of meeting?

A: The general format of meeting minutes remains consistent mainly across different meetings, emphasizing recording actions taken rather than verbatim discussions. However, if any of these organizations require the publication of minutes, a verbatim record may be necessary, often requiring a tape recorder. It’s advisable to consult the Secretary of State’s office in the state of incorporation for specific legal guidelines on meeting minutes.

When drafting minutes, it’s essential to view them as a legal document. Background information may be crucial for providing context to actions taken. Confirm if your private company has specific guidelines for minutes. Additionally, recording methods such as counting, roll call, or ballot votes can serve as evidence of a present quorum.


Q: How can the board address an uncooperative secretary? Is it possible to remove and replace the current secretary?

A: The secretary’s role demands collaboration with all board members and dedication to the organization’s service. The bylaws should outline the procedures for removing an uncooperative secretary or any officer failing their duties. In cases where such provisions are absent, the board must initiate a removal process.

If the bylaws specify a removal procedure, it’s essential to follow it accordingly. Alternatively, nullification of the election is possible if the bylaws state that the officer serves until a successor takes office. This requires prior notice and a majority vote, or without prior notice, a two-thirds vote or a majority of the entire membership. After removal, you can fill the vacancy by conducting an election during the same meeting.


Other Officers

Here are Robert’s Rules of Order FAQs on the role of other officers.


Q: Does the parliamentarian have voting rights on motions? Can they participate in discussions on motions?

A: If the parliamentarian is not a member of the organization, they do not have voting rights or the ability to engage in debates on motions. If the parliamentarian is a member and sits near the president, they cannot make motions, discuss motions, or vote.

The parliamentarian is considered an impartial authority figure. However, if the parliamentarian is a member and sits with the assembly during meetings (without advising the chair), they may have the right to make motions, participate in discussions, and vote.


Q: What are the responsibilities of the board chairman?

A: If your bylaws do not specify the chairman of the board’s duties, their primary responsibility is to preside over board meetings. Typically, the association president conducts membership meetings.


Q: Can you withdraw a resignation after submission?

A: Similar to any motion, a person may withdraw a resignation before the chair introduces it to the assembly for consideration. Before the chair states the question on its acceptance, withdrawal may occur without requiring the assembly’s consent. However, once the chair has introduced the resignation to the assembly for approval, the assembly must give its permission to withdraw it.


Nominations and Election of Officers

Here are Robert’s Rules of Order FAQs on nominations and the election of officers.


Q: Are there rules against a person running for two offices simultaneously?

A: Generally, there is no parliamentary prohibition against a person receiving nominations for multiple offices unless the bylaws explicitly say otherwise. However, it’s customary for members to hold only one office at a time. If a member is elected to two offices and is present during the election, they should choose which office to serve. In their absence, other members can decide which office they should serve.


Q: Is a second necessary to nominate someone?

A: No, a second is not obligatory. Any eligible member’s name can be written on a ballot for consideration. Furthermore, according to Robert’s Rules of Order, nomination is not a prerequisite for election. Therefore, a person can secure a position through a write-in campaign on a written ballot.


Q: What does a “slate” mean in elections?

A: In parliamentary terms, a “slate” refers to a nominee for each office. For instance, if you elect three offices — president, secretary, and treasurer — a single slate contains one nominee for each office. A multiple slate contains more than one nominee for each office.


Q: Does the nominating committee exclusively nominate officers, or can any member make a nomination?

A: Consult your organization’s bylaws for specific details on the nominating and electing process. In general parliamentary practice, any member should have the right to nominate an officer.


Q: Can the president reopen the floor for nominations after closing it?

A: Robert’s Rules of Order allow for the reopening of the floor for nominations with a majority vote for any reason. A member can make a motion to reopen nominations. Alternatively, the chair can assume such a motion.



Here are the Robert’s Rules of Order FAQs on voting.


Q: What is the proper procedure for someone entering late during a vote?

A: Proceedings should continue with the vote, as interruptions are only allowed before any member votes, except during the counting of a ballot vote. Members arriving late should not expect a pause in the process.


Q: Do you count abstentions in elections requiring a majority vote?

A: Abstentions are typically excluded from vote counts in majority vote elections, potentially influencing the outcome, particularly if a majority of the entire membership is required.


Q: Do committee chairs and ex officio committee members have voting rights?

A: Committee chairs typically possess voting rights akin to regular members, as do ex officio committee members. However, non-member ex officio individuals should not be counted in the committee or board quorum.


Q: How do you resolve a tie in officer elections?

A: According to Robert’s Rules, the president always votes in a ballot vote, preventing them from breaking a tie. If a tie occurs, voting should continue until someone receives a majority. If the organization desires the president to cast a tie-breaking vote, they must wait until the result is announced before voting.


Q: What defines a majority in determining voting outcomes?

A: In this context, “majority” simply denotes more than half.


Q: In the absence of bylaws, do abstentions default to a majority vote?

A: Without bylaws, abstentions count as zero votes according to Robert’s Rules, potentially impacting the outcome of a majority vote.


Q: What constitutes a vote of no confidence?

A: The term “vote of no confidence” is not explicitly defined in Robert’s Rules of Order, nor is it commonly used within its framework. However, an assembly can choose to adopt a motion expressing its confidence or lack thereof in any of its officers, subordinate boards, or committees. Such a motion functions as a main motion, solely reflecting the assembly’s sentiments without resulting in the officer’s removal.


Q: What are the key requirements for a valid proxy vote?

A: Begin by reviewing state laws concerning proxy voting and ensure compliance. Verify that your bylaws explicitly permit proxy voting. While Robert’s Rules generally discourage proxy voting, specific organizations may find it beneficial. Consider factors such as proxy validity duration, revocability, and validation procedures, as well as their impact on meeting dynamics and member participation.


Q: Can an assembly mandate a higher vote threshold for a main motion?

A: To alter the required vote for a main motion, the assembly must initiate a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for approval.


Q: Can you use proxies to establish a quorum if a meeting lacks one?

A: If an organization’s bylaws allow proxy voting, the quorum should be determined based on members’ attendance, whether in person or through proxy.


Q: What is the sequence of voting in a roll call vote?

A: The secretary conducts a roll call vote alphabetically, with the president’s name read last. Members can vote yes, no, abstain, or present. Those who initially passed get a second chance to vote, and members can change their votes before the results are announced.


Q: What happens if the president’s vote results in a tie on a motion?

A: The motion is defeated if the president’s vote creates a tie. The president can vote in such scenarios, but a tie vote does not constitute a majority, resulting in the motion’s failure.


Q: Under what circumstances can the president exercise voting privileges?

A: The president can vote to break or make a tie, participate in a roll call vote, and cast a ballot vote. However, they abstain from voting in other situations to maintain impartiality, except in a secret ballot vote where their vote remains confidential.



Here are the Robert’s Rules of Order FAQs on meetings.


Q: Is it permissible to conduct meetings via teleconference?

A: Board meetings can take place via teleconference or videoconference if the organization’s bylaws allow. If so, it’s crucial to ensure that all participating members can hear each other simultaneously. Establish specific rules regarding equipment requirements, recognition procedures, motion submission, quorum verification, and voting procedures.


Q: Can voting occur during an executive session?

A: Yes, voting can take place in an executive session. While executive sessions are held behind closed doors, there are generally no restrictions on voting during these sessions. However, certain organizations, such as HOAs, may have additional regulations.


Q: Can the committee chair make motions during committee meetings?

A: Yes, the committee chair can propose motions, participate in debates, and vote during committee meetings. In smaller committees, the chair is often an active participant. However, formal meeting rules in larger committees may restrict the chair’s involvement in motions and debates.


Q: Can members propose additions to the agenda?

A: Members can add items to the agenda if they are not adopted at the beginning of the meeting. You can do this by motion when the chair calls for new business. If the agenda is initially adopted by a majority vote, a two-thirds vote is required to amend it by adding new items. While agendas should maintain order and expedite business, they should also allow flexibility for members to bring forward new business, excluding only items requiring prior notice.


Q: Should a board member with a conflict of interest leave the meeting during discussions related to the conflict?

A: A board member with a conflict of interest should abstain from discussing and voting. While they don’t have to leave the room, they should refrain from participating in the discussion or voting. If their presence is necessary for a quorum, their absence affects the board’s ability to vote on the issue.



Here are the Robert’s Rules of Order FAQs on the quorum.


Q: Does the quorum remain valid if members leave during the meeting?

A: No. While a quorum is presumed to exist once established at the meeting’s outset, this assumption remains valid only until the chair or any member brings to the assembly’s attention the absence of a quorum. If the chair notices the lack of a quorum, it is crucial to declare this status, particularly before proceeding with any vote or addressing new motions. Any member who notices the apparent absence of a quorum should promptly raise a Point of Order when another person is not speaking.


Q: What is the minimum number necessary to hold a board meeting?

A: Your organization’s bylaws should outline the quorum requirement for board meetings. If not specified, according to Robert’s Rules of Order, a quorum consists of a majority, meaning more than half, of all the members.


Ex Officio Officers and Members

Here are Robert’s Rules of Order FAQs on the role of ex officio members and officers.


Q: What are ex officio members?

A: Adopting a parliamentary authority like Robert’s Rules of Order guides ex officio members. Typically, an ex officio member gains membership in an organization by holding a specific office. For example, the organization’s president might serve as an ex officio member on a board or committee.

If you choose to include a community member with relevant expertise as an ex officio member on your board, they will cease to be a member if they leave their position. Subsequently, their successor would assume the ex officio membership.


Q: Do ex officio members contribute to the quorum?

A: Ex officio members who are organization members are considered part of the quorum and have the right to make motions, participate in debates, and cast votes. If ex officio members are not organization members, they retain the right to make motions, engage in debates, and vote but are not included in the quorum count.


Q: Do ex officio members have voting rights?

A: Ex officio members possess full membership rights, allowing them to make motions, participate in debates, and cast votes. If ex officio members are regular organization members, they count toward the quorum. However, they retain membership rights if they are not organization members but don’t count toward the quorum.


The Bottom Line

Hopefully, the answers to these common Robert’s Rules of Order FAQs can help your organization navigate the parliamentary procedure better. Of course, when in doubt, it’s always best to seek the help of a professional.


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