Glossary

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A

absentee voting

Just as the name implies, this type of voting is done by a person who is not in attendance at the meeting. The bylaws must expressly authorize it before it is allowed.

abstain

To verbally refrain from voting. Frequently the reason for abstaining is a conflict of interest.

abstention

The result of abstaining from voting. Because the abstention is not voting, it does not count as a vote cast.

accept

To adopt or approve a motion or report. The effect of accepting, adopting, or approving a report is the assembly endorses the report in its entirety, every word of it.

acclamation

An election by unanimous consent.

ad hoc

A special committee. The term comes from a Latin term meaning “to this” and refers to a committee formed for a particular purpose.

adhering to the motion

A motion is considered adhering to the motion or question if it is made while the motion it is adhering to is pending. For example, a main motion is made. While it is being discussed, an Amendment is made to that Main Motion. The Amendment is adhering to the main motion. Adhering motions remain connected to the main motion even if the motion is interrupted, Referred, Postponed, or temporarily disposed of.

Adjourn

A motion to close the meeting.

adjourned meeting

A meeting that is a continuation of a previous meeting. It occurs when the work was not completed at a regular or special meeting and there was a motion to continue the meeting at a different time. The original meeting and the adjourned meeting make up a single session. Because it is a continuation of a previous meeting, special notice of the meeting doesn’t need to be sent to the membership. The adjourned meeting begins on the agenda where the meeting it is continuing left off.

adjournment sine die

(pronounced SIGN-ee DYE-ee)

A Latin term which means “without day.” It is the final adjournment of an assembly. The last meeting of the convention is said to adjourn sine die.

administrative year

While not a parliamentary term, this term refers to the time period in which the officers remains in office without need for re-election.

adopt

To accept or approve a motion or report. The effect of accepting, adopting, or approving a report is the assembly endorses the report in its entirety, every word of it.

affirmative vote

A vote in favor of the adoption of the motion.

agenda

A predetermined sequence of items of business to be covered at a specific meeting; an order of business. The prescribed agenda for organizations that have regular meetings at least quarterly and have Robert’s Rules as their parliamentary authority is: approval of minutes; reports of officers, boards, and standing committees; reports of special committees; special orders; unfinished business and general orders; and new business.

alternate

A member authorized to substitute for another member.

Amend

A motion to modify the pending motion before it is voted on.

Amend by adding

One of the forms of a motion to Amend. This form places a word or consecutive words or a paragraph at the end of a motion.

Amend by inserting

One of the forms of a motion to Amend. This form places a word or consecutive words or a paragraph in the beginning or the middle of a motion.

Amend by striking out

One of the forms of a motion to Amend. This form takes out a word or consecutive words or a paragraph in a motion.

Amend by striking out and inserting

One of the forms of a motion to Amend. This form strikes out a word or consecutive words and inserts a word or consecutive words in its place.

Amend by substituting

One of the forms of a motion to Amend. This form strikes out a paragraph or more and inserts another paragraph or more.

Amend Something Previously Adopted

A motion that allows the assembly to change an action previously taken. This motion can be applied to a motion adopted at a previous meeting provided that none of the action involved has been carried out in a way that it is too late to undo.

amendable

When a motion is amendable, it can be modified during the time it is pending (Step 4)

Amendment

A motion that proposes a change to the wording of a pending motion.

American Institute of Parliamentarians (AIP)

A professional organization of parliamentarians that emphasizes knowledge of Robert’s, Sturgis, and other parliamentary authorities.

announcement of the vote

The sixth step in the processing of a motion. In a complete announcement, the chair states the following: the results of the vote, declaration of whether the motion passed or failed, the effect of the vote, and the next item of business.

annual meeting

A meeting held yearly usually for the purpose of electing officers and receiving the annual reports of current officers and committees. The annual meeting is usually specified in the bylaws. You may also find in the bylaws what business can be brought up at the annual meeting as well as whether the annual meeting is considered a regular meeting, thus having the flexibility of a regular meeting. Sometimes certain subjects, for example, bylaw amendments, can only be acted on at the annual meeting.

annual meeting rules

These are rules that are adopted for a single meeting and may include parliamentary rules.

Appeal from the Decision of the Chair (Appeal)

A motion to take a decision regarding parliamentary procedure out of the hands of the presiding officer and place the final decision in the hands of the assembly.

appoint

To name or assign a person to an office, a position, or a committee.

approve

This term is synonymous with ratify, confirm, adopt, or accept. The effect of accepting, adopting, or approving a report is the assembly endorses the report in its entirety, every word of it.

articles of incorporation

May also be referred to as the corporate charter. It's the legal instrument required by the state to incorporate an organization.

assembly

A group of people meeting together to openly discuss issues and make decisions that then become the decision of the group. Also referred to as a deliberative assembly.

assessment

A fee that is imposed on the members. It must be specifically authorized in the bylaws.

asynchronous meetings

Electronic meetings that occur with the participants in different places at different times. Venues of asynchronous meetings include, but are not limited to, e-mail, e-mail list groups, and facsimile/fax. Also referred to as nonsynchronistic meetings.

attendance via a communication method

There are various methods by which a person can attend a meeting electronically, but only as specifically authorized in the bylaws. For example, if a member must miss a meeting because they physically cannot be in the meeting room, then some bylaws authorize that person to attend by video or audioconferencing methods. Unless the bylaws indicate otherwise, that person is considered in attendance at that meeting.

audit

An examination and verification of the financial records of the association. Depending upon the size of the organization, an audit may be required by federal or state law. The size of the organization also determines whether the audit can be done by an internal group, usually referred to as the audit committee, or an external, independent auditor.

aye

Word frequently used in a voice vote to vote in the affirmative. For example, “All those in favor of the motion, say ‘aye’.”

B

ballot vote

A method of voting in which ballots[md]usually pieces of paper[md]are passed out to each voting member, the member fills in the ballot, and the ballot is collected. Instructions from the chair might be: "Please mark your ballots clearly, fold them one time, and hand them directly to a teller."

board of directors

A specified group of members who make decisions on behalf of the organization. The membership, authority, and limitations of this group are specified in the bylaws. Meetings of the board are usually only open to members of the board and their invitees.

board of directors meeting

Because it takes a lot to run an organization, and all the members do not have a tremendous amount of time to devote to the organization, the members give some of the responsibilities of running the organization to a group of people frequently referred to as the board of directors. Thus, the board meeting is a meeting of a specified group of members who make decisions on behalf of the organization. The membership, authority, and limitations of this group are specified in the bylaws. Because this group has been given total authority over specific aspects of the organization, meetings of the board are usually only open to members of the board and their invitees and the meetings are usually held in executive session.

budget

The itemized estimate of income and disbursements.

business

An item or matter brought up at a meeting in the form of a motion, for action by the assembly.

bylaws

A governing document that, when used without a constitution, comprises the highest body of rules of the organization except rules from a higher governing authority, such as a parent body or laws. In the bylaws, an organization is free to adopt any rules it may wish, subject to higher governing authority such as a parent body or laws, even rules deviating from the organization's established parliamentary authority.

C

Call for the Orders of the Day

By the use of this motion, a single member can require the assembly to follow the order of business or agenda, or to take up a special order that is scheduled to come up, unless two-thirds of the assembly wish to do otherwise.

call of the house

This is used only in bodies that have the legal power to compel the attendance of their members, such as legislative bodies. This motion requires the unexcused absent members to be brought to the meeting, following the established procedures.

call of the meeting

The official notice of a meeting given to all members of the organization.

call the roll

A method of taking a vote or of determining attendance of members in which each member’s name is called out and members publicly announce their vote or their presence.

call up the motion to Reconsider

The motion to Reconsider can be divided into the making of the motion and the actual consideration of the motion, referred to as calling up. Words used: "Madam President, I call up the motion to Reconsider the vote on the motion . . ." Also see Making the Motion to Reconsider.

called meeting

Another term for a special meeting.

calling a member to order

An order from the presiding officer to a member to stop an inappropriate action and be seated. If the presiding officer does not call to order a member behaving inappropriately, another member may call that member to order.

caucus

A meeting to plan strategy toward a particular issue or motion.

censure

A motion to reprimand or admonish a member. The only consequence of this motion is the admonishment or reprimand.

chair

The person who is in charge of the meeting. Presiding officer and chair are interchangeable terms. They both are sometimes used to refer to the president of the organization when the president is conducting the meeting.

charter

A document issued by a parent organization authorizing the establishment of a subordinate unit.

close debate

Termination of Step 4 in the processing of the motion. It occurs when the chair ends debate because no one else wants to speak, or with the adoption of the Previous Question motion.

close nominations

This is a motion that puts an end to nominations. The motion is out of order if any member is seeking the floor to nominate a candidate. This motion should not be used. Instead, when there is no one seeking the floor to nominate a candidate, the chair should close nominations, without a motion.

Commit or Refer to a Committee

This motion sends the Main Motion to a smaller group (a committee) for further examination and refinement before the body votes on it. Be sure to be specific which committee, size of committee, and so on.

committee

A group of one or more persons who are appointed or elected to carry out a charge. The charge can be to investigate, to recommend, or to take action.

committee meeting

The larger group frequently assigns specific tasks to a committee. When they assign the task, they usually give the committee a specified level of authority to carry out the task. That authority may be to research the subject and make a recommendation to the larger group or it may be to make a decision for the larger group and carry out that decision. That group comes together to meet and, based on the authority given them, takes the action directed by the larger group.

committee of the whole

The entire assembly acts as a committee to discuss a motion or issue more informally. The presiding officer vacates the chair and another member is appointed to serve as chairman. This motion is usually reserved for large assemblies, particularly legislative bodies.

committee report

An official statement that is formally adopted by a majority vote of the committee and that is presented to the parent body (either the entire membership or the board of directors) in the name of the committee. It contains information obtained, information regarding action taken, or recommendations on behalf of the committee.

conflict of interest

A situation in which a member has a direct personal interest not common to the other members.

consent agenda or consent calendar

An agenda category that includes a list of routine, uncontroversial items that are approved with one motion, no discussion, and one vote.

consent calendar

See consent agenda.

Consideration by Paragraph or Seriatim

The effect of this motion is to debate and Amend a long motion paragraph by paragraph. The vote is taken on the whole motion after consideration of each paragraph separately.

consideration of a question

The discussion that occurs during Step 4 of the processing of a motion, while the motion is pending.

Constituent unit

Organizations, particularly national organizations, are frequently made up of units at regional, state, or local levels that are referred to as constituent units. The bylaws should establish their relationship within the organization’s structure.

constitution

A governing document that contains the highest body of rules of the organization, except rules from a higher governing authority, such as a parent body or laws. Some organizations have both a constitution and bylaws, but the single bylaws document is recommended.

continued meeting

A term interchangeable with adjourned meeting.

convene

To initiate a meeting by calling the meeting to order.

convention

An assembly of delegates usually chosen for one session. The participants frequently attend as representatives of a local, state, or regional association. The convention participants come together to make decisions on behalf of the entire organization. Some smaller organizations give all members the right to attend the convention as voting members. Thus, the voting members of the convention are the individual members of the organization who are registered and attend the convention.

convention standing rules

These are rules that are adopted for a single meeting or series of meetings and may include parliamentary rules.

corporate charter

A legal document that includes the name and object of the organization in compliance with state statutes for the state in which the organization is incorporated. It may also be referred to as the articles of incorporation.

corresponding secretary

An officer who is responsible for the general correspondence of the organization.

counted vote

A method of voting in which the members express their vote by standing or raising their hand and then those standing or with their hands raised are counted and the number is reported to the presiding officer. “Those in favor of the motion, please stand and remain standing until counted. [pause] You may be seated. Those opposed to the motion, please stand and remain standing until counted. [pause] You may be seated.”

CP

Certified Parliamentarian through the American Institute of Parliamentarians (AIP). To become a CP a person must pass a written examination that covers the rules in various parliamentary authorities and must earn service points.

CPP

Certified Professional Parliamentarian through the American Institute of Parliamentarians (AIP). To become a CPP, a person must pass a rigorous oral examination and demonstrate expertise in presiding.

CPP-T

Certified Professional Teacher of Parliamentary Procedure through American Institute of Parliamentarians (AIP). In addition to being a CPP, the person must complete a teacher education course and must show evidence of successful teaching experience.

CP-T

Certified Teacher of Parliamentary Procedure through American Institute of Parliamentarians (AIP). In addition to being a CP, the person must complete a teacher education course and must show evidence of successful teaching experience.

Create a Blank

A method used to change a motion that allows an unlimited number of choices for a specific portion of a motion to be considered at the same time. E.g. if the motion is to purchase an item for $50.00 and there are several choices on the amount of money to spend, a member could first move to strike %50.00 and Create a Blank. If that motion is adopted, then members could list any number of recommendations for the amount of money. The body votes on those recommendations one at a time, in a specified order, until one receives a majority vote and thus fills the blank. Then the Main Motion of the purchase is voted on.

credential

A certificate that shows a person is authorized to serve as a delegate or alternate delegate or a representative of a specific body.

credentials committee

The committee that has the duty to certify the credentialed delegates or members and report that number to the membership. That number then becomes the highest number of votes that can be cast at the meeting.

cumulative voting

A voting method used when there are multiple positions or propositions and each member may cast a vote multiplied by that number of positions or propositions. The member may assign those votes however he or she chooses among the various positions or propositions, including multiple votes to one position or proposition. In order to be used, this method of voting must be specifically authorized in the bylaws or the state statutes.

custom

A long established practice of an organization. If a custom is found to be in violation of the organizations bylaws, rules, or parliamentary authority, and a member challenges that, the custom must cease.

D

dark horse

A nominee who may not be the first choice of most, but on whom most may prefer to agree.

debatable

When a motion is debatable, the members may discuss it during Step 4 of the processing of the motion. Undebatable motions must skip Step 4 and go immediately to the vote on the motion.

debate

The discussion of a motion that occurs after the presiding officer has restated the motion and before putting it to a vote.

decorum

To conduct oneself in a proper manner. Usually refers to debate, as in decorum in debate.

decorum in debate

Appropriate behavior during debate. Robert’s Rules lists nine such debate rules, including not attacking another member’s motives, addressing comments through the chair, and so on.

defer action

Using specific motions to delay action on a motion.

delegate body

In organizations that are large and/or spread throughout the country or the world, it's not practical for all the members to come together for a meeting. To still maintain decision-making that represents the membership, this type of organization may have delegates who come together and meet on behalf of the entire organization. The participants frequently attend as representatives of a local, state, or regional association. The convention participants come together to make decisions on behalf of the entire organization.

deliberative assembly

A group of people, meeting together to openly discuss issues and make decisions that then become the decision of the group.

Dilatory

A motion, action, or statement that’s purpose is to delay action. It is an attempt to obstruct the will of the assembly.

Discharge a Committee

A motion that relieves a committee from further consideration of the task that has been assigned to it.

disciplinary procedures

An organization has a right to make and enforce rules, and to require members to refrain from conduct that hurts the organization. Therefore a society has the right to discipline its members, following very specific procedures that are outlined in Robert’s Rules.

discussion

Debate that occurs after the presiding officer restates the motion and before the vote is taken on the motion.

Dispense With the Reading of the Minutes

This motion, if adopted, delays the reading of the minutes to a later time in the meeting. In most contemporary organizations, the minutes are distributed in advance of the meeting and, therefore, there is no need to read them at the meeting.

dispose of

Action on a motion that removes it from consideration by the assembly. A motion is considered permanently disposed of when it has been approved or defeated by vote of the assembly.

Division of the Assembly

The effect of this motion is to require a standing vote (not a counted vote). A single member can demand this if he or she feels the vote is too close to declare or is unrepresentative. This motion can only be used after the voice vote or show of hands vote where there is a reasonable doubt of the results.

Division of the Question

This motion is used to separate a Main Motion or Amendment into parts to be voted on individually. It can only be used if each part can stand as a separate question.

E

entertain a motion

A request, usually from the presiding officer, for a formal motion on the subject under discussion.

executive board

A term usually synonymous with board of directors or board of trustees.

executive committee

An executive committee is to the board of directors what the board of directors is to the membership. It is a smaller group, usually the officers, who are given specific authority in the bylaws. They have only the specific authority that is given to them in the bylaws, even though some executive committees assume a lot of authority. Like the board, their meetings are open only to members of the executive committee and their invitees and are held in executive session.

executive session

A meeting or a portion of a meeting in which the proceedings are secret and the only attendees are members and invited guests. Deliberations of an executive session are secret and all attendees are honor-bound to maintain confidentiality. You may have already figured out that this may be an incredibly useful tool in a controversial issue and/or when you want the members to feel free to say things without worry of what they have said being repeated outside of the meeting.

ex-officio

A person is a member by virtue of an office held. An ex-officio member has full voting and speaking rights, unless otherwise indicated in the bylaws.

expunge from the minutes

Upon the adoption of the motion to Rescind and Expunge From the Minutes, the secretary draws a line through the portion of the minutes covered in the motion and writes the words “Rescinded and Ordered Expunged” with the date and her signature. This should be used rarely as a method of expressing strong disapproval of the action taken.

F

fixed membership

Refers to the number of memberships established in the bylaws. If the bylaws established a board of 9 and there were currently 2 vacancies, a majority of the fixed membership would be 5, a majority of the entire membership would be 4.

floor

A member has the floor when he has been recognized by the chair to speak. A member is “assigned the floor” by the presiding officer. During that time no one else is to speak until the floor is assigned to another. A motion is considered on the floor when it is in Step 4 of the processing of a motion; when it is pending.

forum

An informal meeting or portion of a meeting that allows the members to openly discuss issues.

friendly amendment

A proposed Amendment that is perceived to be acceptable to the entire assembly. This Amendment should be processed just like any other Amendment, following the steps of any other motion, even if the maker of the motion “accepts” the Amendment. If it is obvious all members are in agreement with the minor change, it can be adopted by unanimous consent.

frivolous motion

A motion proposed that is not significant or is dilatory (intended to delay or obstruct business).

fundamental principle of parliamentary law

Rules in parliamentary procedure that protect the basic rights of the individual member. These rules cannot be suspended. An example is that the right to vote is limited to the members as defined in the bylaws. Therefore, the rules cannot be suspended to allow nonmembers to vote.

G

gavel

A mallet used by the presiding officer to bring order to the meeting and keep order throughout the meeting. A gavel is a symbol of parliamentary procedure and of the presiding officer.

general consent or unanimous consent

A method of voting without taking a formal vote. The presiding officer asks if there are any objections, and if none are expressed, the motion is considered passed. If any objection is expressed, the motion must be processed using the six steps.

general orders

A category of the agenda that includes any motion which, usually by postponement, has been made an order of the day without being made a special order. Translated, that means that if an item is Postponed until a certain day or after a certain event, it fits into this category.

germane

Related to the subject. An Amendment must be germane to the motion it is amending. A Secondary Amendment must be germane to the Primary Amendment it is amending. For example, the Main Motion is “I move that we purchase a computer.” A germane Amendment might be to add “not to exceed $3,000.00.” An Amendment not germane would be to add “and an exercise bicycle.”

good of the order

Refers to the number of memberships established in the bylaws. If the bylaws established a board of 9 and there were currently 2 vacancies, a majority of the fixed membership would be 5, a majority of the entire membership would be 4.

governing documents

The rules of the organization. They include federal law, state law, corporate charter, articles of incorporation, constitution, bylaws, rules of order, standing rules, and policies and procedures.

governing documents of parent organization

If the organization is a local or state branch of an organization (referred to as the parent organization) and they are authorized to exist in the governing documents of the parent organization, then the rules contained in the governing documents of the parent organization that apply to the local are higher in authority than the rules of that state or local organization.

H

hand counted vote

A method of voting in which the votes of the members are actually calculated, instead of estimated. The members raise their hands and someone counts the hands raised.

hearing

An informal meeting of a group that allows members to express their views and listen to the views of others on a particular subject.

honorary

A category of the agenda that includes any motion which, usually by postponement, has been made an order of the day without being made a special order. Translated, that means that if an item is Postponed until a certain day or after a certain event, it fits into this category.

house

An assembly. Most frequently used with legislative bodies or delegate bodies.

I

illegal vote

A vote that is not credited to any candidate or choice, but is counted as a vote cast. An example is a ballot cast for a fictional character, such as Sylvester the Cat or Tweety.

immediately pending

A motion is considered immediately pending when several motions are pending and it is the motion that was most recently stated by the chair and is the one that will be first disposed of.

in order

An action following correct parliamentary procedures.

Incidental Main Motion

A Main Motion that is incidental to, or related to, the business of the assembly, or its past or future action. An example is a motion to fix the method of making nominations if made before the election is pending.

incidental motions

Motions that relate to matters that are supplementary to the conduct of the meeting rather than directly to the Main Motion. They may be offered at any time when they are needed. Motions in this classification include: Point of Order, Appeal from the Decision of the Chair, Objection to Consideration of a Question, Suspend the Rules, Division Of The Assembly, Division Of The Question, Consideration By Paragraph Or Seriatim, Parliamentary Inquiry, Point of Information, Motions Relating To Methods Of Voting And The Polls, Motions Relating To Nominations, Request To Be Excused From A Duty, Request For Permission To Withdraw A Motion, Request To Read Papers, and Request For Any Other Privilege.

incoming president

A person who has been elected president but has not yet taken the office of president. This is different than president-elect, because president-elect is an official title for a particular office.

indecorum

Improper or disorderly behavior.

informal consideration

A form of Committee of the Whole. This motion allows the assembly to exchange ideas on an informal basis with more freedom of debate than in a formal assembly.

item of business

An agenda item, including a report or a motion. The chair usually announces it by stating “the next item of business . . .”.

L

Lay on the Table

This motion in essence puts aside a Main Motion until a later, unspecified time. It places in the care of the secretary the pending question and everything adhering to it. If a group meets quarterly or more frequently, the question laid on the table remains there until taken off or until the end of the next regular session. This motion should not be used to kill a motion without debating it. The motion to Take from the Table is used when the assembly wants to continue considering the motion.

legal vote

A vote cast by a member entitled to vote.

Limit or Extend Limits of Debate

This motion can reduce or increase the number and length of speeches permitted or limit the length of debate on a specific question.

lost motion

A motion rejected by a vote of the assembly.

M

Main Motion

A motion that brings before the assembly any particular subject and is made when no other business is pending. If passed, it commits the assembly to do or say something. Motions in this classification include: Original Main Motion and Incidental Main Motion.

majority

More than half of the votes cast.

majority of the entire membership

More than half of all the members of the entity that is meeting. For example, in a meeting of a convention, a majority of the entire membership refers to a majority of all the registered convention attendees entitled to vote.

majority report

An incorrectly used term for the report of the majority of the members of a committee. Instead, it should simply be referred to as the committee report.

majority vote

More than half of the votes cast.

making the motion to Reconsider

The motion to Reconsider can be divided into the making of the motion and the actual consideration of the motion, referred to as calling up. The making of the motion to Reconsider has higher ranking than the consideration of the motion. Therefore, there are times that the motion can be made, but not yet considered. Just the making and seconding of the motion to Reconsider temporarily suspends actions stemming from the vote it is proposed to Reconsider. That suspension lasts until the vote on Reconsider is taken. Also see Call up the Motion to Reconsider.

mass meeting

An open and informal meeting of a group of people with a common interest but not formally organized. These meetings happen for many different reasons, one of which is that it's the very first step in the beginning of an organization. Because a mass meeting is not a meeting of an organized group, the rules applicable to a mass meeting are very different from those of other meetings. If you are going to attend a mass meeting or you are the person calling the mass meeting, you should review the section in Robert’s Rules regarding mass meetings. If the purpose of the mass meeting is to form a new organization, there is another section in Robert’s Rules that you will also want to review. That section walks you through the process of organizing a permanent society.

meeting

An assembly of members gathered to conduct business during which there is no separation of the members except for a short recess.

member

A person who belongs to an organization.

membership

Members of an organization get together to meet and make decisions on behalf of the organization. As a general principle, usually the members of the organization have the rights to control the organization, unless they choose to assign those rights and responsibilities to another group. The place they assign those rights and responsibilities is in the bylaws. The entities that they assign those rights and responsibilities to varies but most frequently include staff, the board of directors, the executive committee, or other committees.

minority report

A formal expression of the views of a portion of the committee or group that are not in agreement with the majority stand on an issue.

minutes

The written record of the proceedings of a deliberative assembly. They are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

mock minutes

A tool to assist in the minutes writing process. They are minutes prepared in advance of a meeting or convention which includes all that will be occurring, and the order in which it will occur. They contain many blank spaces that are filled in during the meeting by the person(s) in charge of the minutes. They are prepared using the agenda and/or the script for the meeting.

motion

A proposal that the group take a specific action or stand. Motion and question are interchangeable terms.

motions relating to methods of voting and the polls

These motions are used to demand a ballot vote, count a vote, or close or reopen polls.

motions relating to nominations

These motions are used in relation to nominations of candidates for office. They include motions relating to the method of nomination, closing nominations, and reopening nominations.

motions that bring the question again before the assembly

Motions that are used to bring back a motion that has already been considered by the assembly. Motions in this classification include: Rescind, Amend Something Previously Adopted, Take from the Table, and Reconsider.

move

The word used to make a motion: “I move that...."

mover

The person who makes the motion.

N

National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP)

A professional organization of parliamentarians that emphasizes Robert’s as the parliamentary authority.

nay

Word frequently used in a voice vote to vote in the negative. “All those opposed to the motion, say ‘nay’.” Robert’s Rules recommends simply using the word “no.”

negative vote

A vote against the adoption of the motion.

new business

A heading on the agenda for items that are new items of business.

nomination

Naming a person as a candidate for an office or position.

nominee

A person who has been nominated.

notice

An official announcement, given verbally or in writing, of an item of business that will be introduced at the meeting. Certain motions require previous notice.

null and void

Without legal force or effect.

O

objection

A formal expression of opposition to a matter or procedure.

Objection to Consideration of a Question

The purpose of this motion is to prevent the assembly from considering the question/motion because a member deems the question as irrelevant, unprofitable, contentious or simply objectionable. The member believes it is undesirable for this motion to come before the assembly. This motion is only applicable to an Original Main Motion, not an Incidental Main Motion.

obtain the floor

Secure recognition from the presiding officer to either speak or make a motion.

officer

A person who has been appointed or elected to an official position in the organization.

old business

An incorrect and misleading term for the part of the agenda properly called unfinished business. Old business is misleading because it indicates that anything that the group once talked about fits here. The only business that fits in unfinished business is business that was started but not yet finished.

on the floor

A motion is considered on the floor when it has been stated by the presiding officer and has not yet been disposed of either permanently or temporarily. Pending and on the floor are interchangeable terms.

order of business

The schedule of business for the meeting; the agenda.

order of the day

A business item that is scheduled to be taken up during a particular meeting.

Original Main Motions

Those motions which bring before the assembly a new subject, sometimes in the form of a resolution, upon which action by the assembly is desired.

out of order

A motion, action, request, or procedure that is in violation of the rules of the organization.

ownership of a motion

A concept that refers to whose property the motion is at a given time and, therefore, who has a right to make any changes to it. In the six steps of the motion process, the maker of the motion owns the motion up until the completion of Step 3. After Step 3, the ownership of the motion is transferred to the assembly.

P

parliamentarian

A person who is an expert in parliamentary procedure and is hired by a person or an organization to give advice on matters of parliamentary law and procedure. Sometimes a parliamentarian is a member of the organization who has some knowledge of parliamentary procedure and is used as a parliamentary resource during the meeting.

parliamentary authority

The set of rules a group adopts as the rules that will govern them. The parliamentary manual adopted by the organization, usually in its bylaws, to serve as the governing authority. Robert’s Rules is the parliamentary authority for the vast majority of the organizations in the United States, and for many organizations in other countries.

Parliamentary Inquiry

A question directed to the presiding officer concerning parliamentary law or the organization’s rules as they apply to the business at hand.

parliamentary law

The established rules for the conduct of business in deliberative assemblies. The terms parliamentary law and parliamentary procedure are frequently used interchangeably.

parliamentary procedure

A system of rules for the orderly conduct of business. The terms parliamentary law and parliamentary procedure are frequently used interchangeably.

pending

A motion is considered on the floor when it has been stated by the presiding officer and has not yet been disposed of either permanently or temporarily. Pending and on the floor are interchangeable terms and refer to Step 4 in the processing of a motion.

plurality vote

A method of voting in which the candidate or proposition receiving the largest number of votes is elected or selected. Use of decision by plurality vote in an election must be authorized in the bylaws.

Point of Information

A nonparliamentary question about the business at hand.

Point of Order

If a member feels the rules are not being followed, he or she can use this motion. It requires the chair to make a ruling and enforce the rules. Avoid overuse; save it for when someone’s rights are being violated.

Point of Personal Privilege

Another phrase used for a Question of Privilege. An urgent request or motion relating to the privileges of a member of the assembly.

policies and procedures

Some organizations have additional detailed rules and guidelines regarding the administration of the organization.

poll

A place where voting is conducted.

Postpone Definitely

See Postpone to a Certain Time.

Postpone Indefinitely

This motion, in effect, kills the Main Motion for the duration of the session without the group having to take a vote on the motion. If the motion passes, there is no vote on the Main Motion which means there is no stand taken for or against the motion.

Postpone to a Certain Time or Postpone Definitely

If the body needs more time to make a decision or if there is a time for consideration of this question that would be more convenient, this motion may be the answer. If a group meets quarterly or more frequently, the postponement cannot be beyond the next session.

preamble

The first part of a resolution that contains the “whereas” clauses. It's the portion of the resolution that explains the reasons for the motion.

Precedence of Motions

(pre SEED ens) A rank of motions indicating the order in which specific motions should be processed. When a motion is immediately pending, any motion above it on the Precedence of Motions is in order and any motion below it is out of order. In this book the terms ladder of motions and precedence of motions are used interchangeably. Precedence of Motions applies only to the following motion, in the following order:

  1. Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn.

  2. Adjourn.

  3. Recess.

  4. Raise a Question of Privilege.

  5. Call for the Orders of the Day.

  6. Lay on the Table.

  7. Previous Question.

  8. Limit or Extend Limits of Debate.

  9. Postpone Definitely.

  10. Commit or Refer to a Committee.

  11. Secondary Amendment: Amend an Amendment.

  12. Primary Amendment: Amend a motion.

  13. Postpone Indefinitely.

  14. Main Motion.

precedent

A decision or course of action that serves as a rule for future determinations in similar cases.

preferential voting

A method of voting in which members may express more than one preference on a single ballot. It's useful in ballot voting when it's impractical to reballot if no candidate was elected on the first ballot. This method of voting can only be used if authorized in the bylaws.

present

A member who is physically in attendance in the meeting.

present and voting

A member who is physically present at the meeting and who casts a vote on a motion. A member who abstains is not considered present and voting.

preside

The chairing of a meeting.

president

The chief officer of an organization. One of the duties of the president is usually to serve as presiding officer at the meetings of the organization.

President-elect

A person elected to the office of president one full term before serving as president. By being elected to the office of president-elect, the person is elected to serve a term as president-elect and then a term as president.

presiding officer

The person in charge of the meeting. Presiding officer and chair are interchangeable terms. They both are sometimes used to refer to the president of the organization when the president is conducting the meeting.

prevailing side

The affirmative if the motion passed and the negative if the motion failed. A person is said to have voted on the prevailing side if that member voted yes on a motion that passed or no on a motion that failed.

previous notice

An official announcement, given verbally or in writing, of an item of business that will be introduced at the meeting. Certain motions require previous notice.

Previous Question

The effect of this motion is to immediately stop debate on the primary motion and any amendments and to move immediately to a vote on the motion. It must be seconded, no debate is allowed, and a two-thirds vote is needed to close debate.

Primary Amendment

A proposed change to the Main Motion.

privileged motions

Motions that don’t relate to the Main Motion or pending business but relate directly to the members and the organization. They are matters of such urgency that, without debate, they can interrupt the consideration of anything else. Motions in this classification include: Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn, Adjourn, Recess, Question of Privilege, and Call for the Orders of the Day.

pro tem

Temporary or for the time being, as in secretary pro tem.

professional parliamentarian

An expert in parliamentary procedure who has earned one or both of the following designations: Professional Registered Parliamentarian (PRP) through the National Association of Parliamentarians; Certified Professional Parliamentarian (CPP) through the American Institute of Parliamentarians.

program

A schedule of the business to be considered at a meeting or convention. Program can also refer to a nonbusiness portion of the agenda in which a guest speaker gives a presentation.

proviso

A condition that is applied to a change in the bylaws. It usually delays the effective date of the change made in the bylaws. It's not a part of the bylaws. All provisos should be put on a separate sheet of paper at the end of the document and removed after they are no longer in effect.

proxy voting

A proxy vote can be cast when one member has given written authorization for another member (or nonmember) to vote on his/her behalf. The format of the written authorization for a proxy vote may be given in the bylaws. When the bylaws include a provision for proxy voting, they frequently limit the number of proxy votes one person may carry, as well as whether the person carrying the proxy must be a member, so be sure to check that in advance of the meeting. The proxy vote is only counted in determining a quorum for the meeting if so stated in the bylaws. Proxy voting is not allowed unless expressly authorized in the bylaws. Many state statutes have rules regarding proxy voting.

PRP

A Professional Registered Parliamentarian; an individual who has been registered by the National Association of Parliamentarians on the basis of passing a course covering advanced knowledge of parliamentary law and procedure according to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. During the examination the person must demonstrate abilities in presiding, serving as parliamentarian, and teaching parliamentary procedure.

putting the question

Step 5 in the processing of the motion. It involves the presiding officer placing the motion before the members for a vote.

Q

qualified

The limiting of a motion or a vote in a specific manner. For example, if a Main Motion, a Primary Amendment, a Secondary Amendment, and a motion to Postpone Definitely are all pending and a member moves the Previous Question on the motion to Postpone Definitely, the Secondary Amendment and the Primary Amendment. In this example the Previous Question motion is qualified because it does not apply to all four pending motions, only three of them. It does not apply to the Main Motion.

quarterly time interval

Two meetings are considered to be held within a quarterly time interval if the second meeting is held any time during the calendar month three months later than the calendar month in which the first meeting was held.

quasi committee of the whole

“As if in” committee of the whole. The entire assembly acts as a committee to discuss a motion or issue more informally. Unlike the committee of the whole, the presiding officer remains in the chair.

question

A proposal that the group take a specific action or stand. Motion and question are interchangeable terms.

Question of Privilege

An urgent request or motion relating to the privileges of the assembly or a member.

quorum

The number of voting members who must be present in order that business can be legally transacted.

R

Raise a Question of Privilege

To bring an urgent request or a Main Motion relating to the rights of either the assembly or an individual up for immediate consideration. It may interrupt business.

ratify

A motion that confirms or validates a previously taken action that needs assembly approval to become legal.

receive a report

To permit or cause a report to be presented; to hear a report.

recess

A short interruption which does not close the meeting. After the recess, business resumes at exactly the point where it was interrupted.

recognize a member

The acknowledgement by the presiding officer that a member has the right to address the assembly.

recommendation

A proposal that the body take a specific action. It's usually made by a committee, a board, or an officer.

recommit

A motion to Refer an issue or a motion back to a committee.

Reconsider

This motion enables the majority of the assembly to bring back for further consideration a motion that has been voted on. Limitations: Only a member who voted on the prevailing side can make this motion, and in an ordinary meeting of an organization this motion can be made only on the same day the vote to be Reconsidered was taken.

Reconsider and Enter in the Minutes

This motion is an incredibly unusual form of the motion to Reconsider. The effect of this motion, after it's made and seconded, is that action on the motion to be Reconsidered stops and the original motion cannot be Reconsidered until a later day. Thus, it prevents an unrepresentative group from making a decision on an issue.

recount

To count the vote again.

Refer to a Committee or Commit

This motion sends the Main Motion to a smaller group (a committee) for further examination and refinement before the body votes on it. Be sure to be specific which committee, size of committee, the report back date, and so on.

regular meeting

A business meeting of a permanent group that is held at regular intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly, and so on). The meetings are held when prescribed in the bylaws, the standing rules, or through a motion of the group, usually adopted at the beginning of the administrative year. Each meeting is a separate session.

renewal of a motion

A motion is considered renewed if it was made and disposed of without being adopted and then made again. The rules concerning renewal of a motion are extensive and are based upon the principle that an assembly should not have to deal with the same motion or substantially the same motion more than one time in a single session.

Repeal

Another word for the motion to Rescind.

report

A formal communication from a committee, board, or officer to the assembly. The report can be written or oral.

reporting member

The member of the committee or board that is presenting the committee or board report to the members. The chairman of a committee is usually the reporting member.

Request

Any petition by a member through the presiding officer to the assembly, which is growing out of the business of the assembly.

Request to be Excused from a Duty

If a member believes he cannot fulfill a duty required of him, either as a member or as an officer, he can move to Request to be Excused From a Duty. If the motion passes, he is excused from the duty.

Request to Read Papers

A call from a member to the assembly for permission to read from any paper or book. Reading from a paper or book is not allowed without permission from the assembly.

Rescind

This motion allows the assembly to Repeal an action previously taken. This motion can be applied to any previously adopted motion, provided that none of the actions involved have been carried out in a way that it is too late to undo.

resignation

A request, usually written, to relinquish an office, position, appointment, or membership.

resolution

A formal form of a motion that usually includes reasons as “whereas” clauses and the action as “resolved” clause(s).

resolved clause

The last part of a formal resolution. This part is the portion that specifies the action or position to be taken.

revision of the bylaws

A complete rewrite of the bylaws that is presented as a new document. When presented, the proposed revision can be amended without limitation. There is a single vote taken at the end to determine if the proposed revision, as amended, will replace the current bylaws.

rising counted vote

A method of voting in which the members express their vote by standing and then those standing are counted and the number is reported to the presiding officer. "Those in favor of the motion, please stand and remain standing until counted.[pause] Please be seated. Those opposed to the motion, please stand and remain standing until counted.[pause] Please be seated."

rising vote

A method of voting in which the members express their vote by standing. "Those in favor of the motion, please stand.[pause] Please be seated. Those opposed to the motion, please stand.[pause] Please be seated."

Robert’s Rules

A term used to refer to any of the manuals on parliamentary procedure written by Henry M. Robert or based on the manuals he wrote.

roll call vote

A method of voting in which the voting members' names are called and the member states their vote: "The secretary will now call the roll." This method of voting has the exact opposite effect of a ballot vote in that it places in the record how each member voted. It should only be used when the members are responsible to a particular constituency who has a right to know how they voted. It is frequently required of public bodies, such as city councils or school boards.

RP

A Registered Parliamentarian through the National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP). To become an RP, a person must pass a written examination covering Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

rules of order

Written sets of laws of parliamentary procedure by which an organization conducts its business.

ruling

A decision made by the presiding officer. If members of the assembly disagree with the decision, they can Appeal the decision.​

 
 
 
Meeting Tool

 

A handy, two-sided lamenated 8.5 x 11 handout that lists the basic charateristics of motions and also lists the order of precedence of motions. Durable, convenient, and a quick but essential tool to take to every meeting.

S

scope of notice

A concept that applies to motions that require previous notice. It requires that the Amendment fall within the range that is created by what currently exists and by what is proposed in the advance notice of the Amendment.

script

Written directions of what is to be said, by whom, and when during the meeting. A script serves as a cheat sheet for the presiding officer or the member as they try to conduct or participate in a meeting. The amount of detail in the script varies with the person writing the script and the person using the script.

second

An indication by a voting member, other than the person who made the motion, that he or she publicly agrees that the proposed motion should be considered. In seconding a motion, the member is only indicating agreement that the assembly should consider the motion, not necessarily agreement with the motion.

Secondary Amendment

A proposed change to the Primary Amendment. This form of Amendment is not simply the second Amendment made, but it must Amend the first Amendment made - the Primary Amendment.

secondary motion

A motion that may be made while another motion is pending. It includes subsidiary motions, privileged motions, and incidental motions.

seconder

The member who seconds the motion.

secret ballot

A form of voting in which the vote of a member is not disclosed. It usually involves slips of paper on which the voter marks his vote.

secretary

The recording officer whose duty it is to maintain the records of the organization.

Select committee

See special committee.

sergeant-at-arms

A position in some organizations whose job it is to help preserve order at the meeting, following the direction of the presiding officer.

seriatim

See Consideration by Paragraph.

session

A meeting or a series of connected meetings as in a convention.

show of hands vote

A method of voting in which the members express their vote by raising their hand. "All those in favor of the motion, please raise your hand. [pause] Please lower your hand. Those opposed to the motion, please raise your hand.[pause]Please lower your hand."

signed ballot

A form of roll call vote that is used in large assemblies to save time. The member writes yes or no on the paper and signs it. The votes are then recorded in the minutes just as they would be if there had been a roll call vote.

silent

A term used to describe the absence of an issue in a document. For example, if there is nothing in the bylaws on an issue, one might say the bylaws are silent on ... .

silent assent

A slang term that is interchangeable with general consent and unanimous consent, and is a method of avoiding the formality of a vote by getting agreement of everyone in the meeting.

simple majority

A majority - more than half.

sine die

Literally means “without day.” To Adjourn sine die means it's the final adjournment of an assembly. The last meeting of the convention is said to Adjourn sine die. The word is pronounced: SIGN-ee DYE-ee.

single slate

A list of candidates for office or positions which has the name of only one candidate for each office or position.

skeletal minutes

A tool to assist in the minutes writing process. They are minutes prepared in advance of a meeting or convention which includes all that will be occurring, and the order in which it will occur. They contain many blank spaces that are filled in during the meeting by the person(s) in charge of the minutes. They are prepared using the agenda and/or the script for the meeting.

slate

A list of candidates for office. The report of the nominating committee is usually referred to as the slate of candidates.

speaker

Usually refers to the person who has the floor. In some organizations it refers to the presiding officer of the assembly, as in the Speaker of the House.

special committee

A committee that is formed to perform a particular function. After it gives its final report, it ceases to exist. Also referred to as select committee and ad hoc committee.

special meeting

A meeting called at a special time for a specific purpose. Notice of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting must be included in the information sent to all of the members regarding the meeting - referred to as the call of the meeting. Only business that was specified in the call of the meeting can be transacted at the meeting. A group cannot hold a special meeting unless special meetings are authorized in the bylaws. Special meetings are usually held for emergency purposes - things that were not, nor could be, planned for in advance.

special orders

This category of the agenda has the effect of setting a certain time when a specified subject will be considered, and of giving it an absolute priority for that time.

special rules of order

The rules contained in the parliamentary authority are called the rules of order. Sometimes organizations feel a need to have additional rules of order, called special rules of order, which differ from the parliamentary authority.

staggered terms

Terms of office of a board or committee arranged in such a way that only a percentage of the terms end at the same time.

stand at ease

A brief pause, without a Recess, that is called by the presiding officer, without objection.

standing committee

A committee appointed for a definitive time (frequently a year), usually listed in the bylaws, which performs ongoing functions.

standing rules

Rules adopted by an organization that are administrative in nature rather than procedural. Convention standing rules are rules adopted by the convention’s delegates and are procedural in nature.

state statutes

Incorporated organizations are governed by the state statutes of the state in which they are incorporated. These statutes are usually available through the secretary of state’s office or the state attorney general’s office and are available on the Internet.

state the question

This refers to the third step in the processing of a motion. During this step, the presiding officer restates the motion, thus, formally placing it before the body.

straw poll

A method of informally determining where the assembly stands on an issue. It is not allowed because it does not take an action and is therefore considered dilatory.

Sturgis

Another parliamentary authority whose original book Sturgis Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure has been updated by the American Institute of Parliamentarians.

subcommittee

A committee of a committee, usually formed for the purpose of study and investigation of certain matters, which reports its findings to the committee that formed it.

subsidiary motions

Motions that aid the assembly in treating or disposing of a Main Motion. They are in order only from the time the Main Motion has been stated by the chair until the chair begins to take a vote on that Main Motion. Motions in this classification include: Lay on the Table, Previous Question, Limit or Extend Limits of Debate, Postpone to a Certain Time (Postpone Definitely), Commit or Refer, Amend, and Postpone Indefinitely.

Substitute Amendment

An Amendment that proposes to strike out a paragraph or more and to insert another in its place.

Suspend the Rules

This motion is used when the assembly wants to do something that violates its own rules. This motion does not apply to the organization’s bylaws; local, state, or national law; or fundamental principles of parliamentary law. An appropriate suspension of the rules would be a motion to change the agenda, or the prescribed meeting time. An inappropriate suspension of the rules would be to allow nonmembers the same voting rights as members.

sustain

To support and uphold a ruling.

sustain the decision of the chair

To support and uphold a ruling made by the chair in an Appeal from the Decision of the Chair motion. When the Appeal motion is put to a vote, the wording used is: “Those in favor of sustaining the decision of the chair ....”

synchronous meetings

Electronic meetings that occur when participants are in different places at the same time. Venues of the synchronous meetings include, but are definitely not limited to, telephone conferencing, video and web conferencing, chat room, instant messaging, and in-person meetings where some members attend electronically.

T

table

A shortcut term for the motion Lay on the Table.

Take from the Table

The effect of this motion is to resume consideration of a motion that was Laid on the Table earlier in the present session or in the previous session of the organization. When a motion is Taken from the Table, it has everything adhering to it exactly as it was when it was Laid on the Table.

teleconference

A meeting in which the participants are connected by telephone technology or other technology that allows someone from a distance to participate.

tellers

People elected or appointed to count votes.

term of office

The duration of the period for which a person is elected or appointed to an office or position.

tie vote

An equal number of affirmative and negative votes. It is not required that tie votes be broken since, if a majority vote is needed, the motion fails because it lacks a majority vote.

treasurer

The officer entrusted with the custody of the organization's funds and the maintenance of the financial records of the organization.

two-thirds vote

Having at least twice as many votes in favor of a motion as there were against the motion.

U

unanimous

Without dissent; no votes were cast on the losing side.

unanimous ballot

A ballot cast by the secretary, or other member, to elect an uncontested candidate to an office. If the bylaws require a ballot vote, it is out of order since it prevents a member from casting a write-in ballot. After an election by ballot in which the ballot was not unanimous, a motion to make the ballot unanimous would only be in order if that vote was taken by ballot and was unanimous. This requirement protects the member from revealing his vote.

unanimous consent

See general consent.

unanimous vote

A vote in which everyone present and voting, voted on the prevailing side. No one voted on the loosing side of the question.

undebatable

No debate is allowed. Certain motions are undebatable. In essence, Step 4 in the processing of a motion is skipped.

unfinished business

A portion of the agenda that includes motions that have been carried over from the previous meeting as a result of that meeting having adjourned without completing its order of business.

unqualified

A motion or vote that does not have any limitations placed on it. For example, if the vote needed is a majority vote of the entire membership, that is a qualified vote, but if the vote needed is only a majority vote, that is an unqualified vote.

V

vacancy

An office or position which is unfilled or unoccupied.

vacate the chair

To temporarily relinquish the chair so that the presiding officer can participate in debate.

vice chairman

A member of the committee who is next in authority to the chairman.

vice president

A member of the organization who is next in authority to the president, unless the organization has a president-elect. The bylaws should list the duties and responsibilities of this position.

videoconference

A meeting in which the members participate using video conferencing technology.

viva voce

A vote by voice.

voice vote

A method of voting in which the members express their vote vocally. "All those in favor, say Aye.[pause] All those opposed, say No." (If the chair is in doubt of the results of a voice vote, the chair should state "The chair is in doubt, and therefore a rising[or counted]vote will be taken." Then proceed with a rising or counted vote.)

vote

A formal expression of will, opinion or choice by members of an assembly in regard to a matter submitted to it.

vote by acclimation

An election by unanimous consent.

vote immediately

The result of the adoption of the Previous Question motion. The members will immediately vote on the motion.

voting by mail

Only when specifically authorized in the bylaws can an organization conduct a vote by mail. If there is a vote requirement or a quorum requirement, the ballot serves as the member being “present.” As electronic communication is becoming more and more popular, organizations are relying on e-mail as a method of casting mail ballots. Although there are some problems associated with ballots by e-mail, they are clearly a money and time-saving approach, especially for large national and international organizations.

W

with power

A term used to describe a committee that is authorized to take action on the matter that is referred to it.

Withdraw of a Motion

A request by the mover of a motion to remove the motion from consideration. After the motion has been stated by the presiding officer, it belongs to the assembly and the assembly’s permission (majority vote) is needed to Withdraw the motion.

write-in vote

A vote cast, on a written ballot vote, for a person who was not nominated for the position.

Y

yea or nay vote

Yes or no vote that is used in roll call voting. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with roll call vote.

yield

Gives way to. A pending motion yields to one of higher rank on the Precedence of Motions list.

yielding the floor

A speaker giving part of his or her speaking time to another speaker. While this practice is allowed in some legislative bodies, it is not allowed in deliberative assemblies, unless specifically authorized in the rules.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

© Nancy Sylvester, MA, PRP, CPP-T