Part 2 out of 3
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Chairman shall say, "A division is called for; those in favor of the
motion will rise." After counting these, and announcing the number, he
shall say, "Those opposed will rise." will count these, announce the
number, and declare the result; that is, whether the motion is carried
or lost. Instead of counting the vote himself, he can appoint tellers
to make the count and report to him. When tellers are appointed, they
should be selected from both sides of the question. A member has the
right to change his vote (when not made by ballot) before the decision
of the question has been finally and conclusively pronounced by the
Chair, but not afterwards.
Until the negative is put, it is in order for any member, in the same
manner as if the voting had not been commenced, to rise and speak, make
motions for amendment or otherwise, and thus renew the debate; and this,
whether the member was in the assembly room or not when the question was
put and the vote partly taken. In such case the question is in the same
condition as if it had never been put.
No one can vote on a question affecting
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himself, but if more than one name is included in the resolution (though
a sense of delicacy would prevent this right being exercised, excepting
when it would change the vote) all are entitled to vote; for if this
were not so, a minority could control an assembly by including the names
of a sufficient number in a motion, say for preferring charges against
them, and suspend them, or even expel them from the assembly. When
there is a tie vote the motion fails, without the Chairman gives his
vote for the affirmative, which in such case he can do. Where his vote
will make a tie, he can cast it and thus defeat the measure.
Another form of voting is by ballot. This method is only adopted when
required by the constitution or by-laws of the assembly, or when the
assembly has ordered the vote to be so taken. The Chairman, in such
cases, appoints at least two tellers, who distribute slips of paper upon
which each member, including the Chairman,* [Should the Chairman neglect
to vote before the ballots are counted, he cannot then vote without the
permission of the assembly.] writes his vote; the votes are then
collected, counted by the tellers, and the result reported to the
Chairman, who announces
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it to the assembly. The Chairman announces the result of the vote, in
case of an election to office, in a manner similar to the following:
"The whole number of votes cast is --; the number necessary for an
election is --; Mr. A. received --; Mr. B. --; Mr. C. --. Mr. B. having
received the required number is elected." Where there is only one
candidate for an office, and the constitution requires the vote to be by
ballot, it is common to authorize the clerk to cast the vote of the
assembly for such and such a person; if any one objects however, it is
necessary to ballot in the usual way. So when a motion is made to make
a vote unanimous, it fails if any one objects. In counting the ballots
all blanks are ignored.
The assembly can by a majority vote order that the vote on any question
be taken by Yeas and Nays.* [Taking a vote by yeas and nays, which has
the effect to place on the record how each member votes, is peculiar to
this country, and while it consumes a great deal of time, is rarely
useful in ordinary societies. By the Constitution, one-fifth of the
members present can, in either house of Congress, order a vote to be
taken by yeas and nays, and to avoid some of the resulting
inconveniences various rules and customs have been established, which
are ignored in this Manual, as according to it the yeas and nays can
only be ordered by a majority, which prevents its being made use of to
hinder business. In representative bodies it is very useful, especially
where the proceedings are published, as it enables the people to know
how their representatives voted on important measures. In some small
bodies a vote on a resolution must be taken by yeas and nays, upon the
demand of a single member.] In this method of voting the Chairman states
both sides of the question
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at once; the clerk calls the roll and each member as his name is called
rises and answers yes or no, and the clerk notes his answer. Upon the
completion of the roll call the clerk reads over the names of those who
answered the affirmative, and afterwards those in the negative, that
mistakes may be corrected; he then gives the number voting on each side
to the Chairman, who announces the result. An entry must be made in the
minutes of the names of all voting in the affirmative, and also of those
in the negative.
The form of putting a question upon which vote has been ordered to be
taken by yeas and nays, is similar to the following: "As many as are in
favor of the adoption of these resolutions will, when their names are
called, answer yes [or aye]--those opposed will answer no." The
Chairman will then direct the clerk to call the roll. The negative
being put at the same time as the affirmative, it is too late, after the
question is put, to renew the
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debate. After the commencement of the roll call, it is too late to ask
to be excused from voting. The yeas and nays cannot be ordered in
committee of the whole [Sec. 32].
39. Motions Requiring More than a Majority Vote.* [Where no rule to the
contrary is adopted, a majority vote of the assembly, when a quorum [Sec.
43] is present, is sufficient for the adoption of any motion, except for
the suspension of a rule, which can only be done by general consent, or
unanimously. Congress requires a two-thirds vote for only the motions
to suspend and to amend the Rules, to take up business out of its proper
order, and to make a special order [see note to Sec. 37].] The following
motions shall require a two-thirds vote for their adoption, as the right
of discussion, and the right to have the rules enforced, should not be
abridged by a mere majority:
An Objection to the Consideration of a Question .............. Sec. 15.
To Take up a Question out of its proper order ................ Sec. 13.
To Suspend the Rules ......................................... Sec. 18.
The Previous Question ........................................ Sec. 20.
To Close or Limit Debate ..................................... Sec. 37.
To Amend the Rules (requires previous notice also) ........... Sec. 43.
To Make a special order ...................................... Sec. 13.
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Art. VII. The Officers and the Minutes.
[Sec.Sec. 40, 41.]
40. Chairman* [In connection with this section read Sec. 44, and also Sec.
40, 41.] or President. The presiding officer, when no special title has
been assigned him, is ordinarily called the Chairman (or in religious
assemblies more usually the Moderator); frequently the constitution of
the assembly prescribes for him a title, such as President.
His duties are generally as follows:
To open the session at the time at which the assembly is to meet, by
taking the chair and calling the members to order; to announce the
business before the assembly in the order in which it is to be acted
upon [Sec. 44] to state and to put to vote [Sec. 38] all questions which are
regularly moved, or necessarily arise in the course of proceedings, and
to announce the result of the vote;
To restrain the members, when engaged in
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debate, within the rules of order; to enforce on all occasions the
observance of order and decorum [Sec. 36] among the members, deciding all
questions of order (subject to an appeal to the assembly by any two
members, Sec. 14), and to inform the assembly when necessary, or when
referred to for the purpose, on a point of order or practice;
To authenticate, by his signature, when necessary, all the acts, orders
and proceeding of the assembly, and in general to represent and stand
for the assembly, declaring its will and in all things obeying its
The chairman shall rise* [It is not customary for the chairman to rise
while putting the questions in very small bodies, such as committees,
boards of trustees, &c.] to put a question to vote, but may state it
sitting; he shall also rise from his seat (without calling any one to
the chair), when speaking to a question of order, which he can do in
preference to other members. In referring to himself he should always
use his official title thus: "The Chair decides so and so," not "I
decide, &c." When a member has the floor, the chairman cannot interrupt
him as long as he does not transgress
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any of the rules of the assembly, excepting as provided in Sec. 2.
He is entitled to vote when the vote is by ballot* [But this right is
lost if he does not use it before the tellers have commenced to count
the ballots. The assembly can give leave to the chairman to vote under
such circumstances.] and in all other cases where the vote would change
the result. Thus in a case where two-thirds vote is necessary, and his
vote thrown with the minority would prevent the adoption of the
question, he can cast his vote; so also he can vote with the minority
when it will produce a tie vote and thus cause the motion to fail.
Whenever a motion is made referring especially to the chairman, the
maker of the motion should put it to vote.
The chairman can, if it is necessary to vacate the chair, appoint a
chairman pro tem.,* [When there are Vice Presidents, then the first one
on the list that is present, is, by virtue of his office, chairman
during the absence of the President, and should always be called to the
chair when the President temporarily vacates it.] but the first
adjournment puts an end to the appointment, which the assembly can
terminate before, if it pleases, by electing another chairman. But the
regular chairman, knowing that he will be absent from a future meeting,
cannot authorize another member to act
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in his place at such meeting; the clerk [Sec. 41], or in his absence any
member, should in such case call the meeting to order, and a chairman
pro tem. be elected, who would hold office during that session [Sec. 42],
without such office was terminated by the entrance of the regular
The chairman sometimes calls a member to the chair, and himself takes
part in the debate. But this should rarely be done, and nothing can
justify it in a case where much feeling is shown, and there is a
liability to difficulty in preserving order. If the chairman has even
the appearance of being a partisan, he loses much of his ability to
control those who are on the opposite side of the question.* [The
unfortunate habit many chairmen have of constantly speaking upon
questions before the assembly, even interrupting the member who has the
floor, is unjustified by either the common parliamentary law, or the
practice of Congress. One who expects to take an active part in debate
should never accept the chair. "It is a general rule, in all
deliberative assemblies, that the presiding officer shall not
participate in the debate, or other proceedings in any other capacity
than as such officer. He is only allowed, therefore, to state matters
of fact within his knowledge; to inform the assembly on points of order
or the course of proceeding, when called upon for that purpose, or when
he finds it necessary to do so and on appeals from his decision on
questions of order, to address the assembly in debate." [Cushing's
Manual, page 106.] "Though the Speaker [chairman] may of right speak to
matters of order and be first heard, he is restrained from speaking on
any other subject except where the assembly have occasion for facts
within his knowledge; then he may, with their leave, state the matter of
fact." [Jefferson's Manual, sec. xvii, and Barclay's "Digest of the
Rules and Practice of the House of Representatives, U. S.," page 195.]]
The chairman should not only be familiar with parliamentary usage, and
set the example of strict conformity to it, but he should be a
=== Page 85 ============================================================
man of executive ability, capable of controlling men; and it should
never be forgotten, that, to control others, it is necessary to control
one's self. An excited chairman can scarcely fail to cause trouble in a
A chairman will often find himself perplexed with the difficulties
attending his position, and in such cases he will do well to heed the
advice of a distinguished writer on parliamentary law, and recollect
that--"The great purpose of all rules and forms, is to subserve the
will of the assembly, rather than to restrain it; to facilitate, and not
to obstruct, the expression of their deliberate sense."
41. Clerk or Secretary [and the Minutes]. The recording officer is
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the "Clerk" or "Secretary,"* [When there are two secretaries, he is
termed the "recording secretary," and the other one, the "corresponding
secretary." In many societies the secretary, besides acting as
recording officer, collects the dues of members, and thus becomes to a
certain extent a financial officer. In most cases the treasurer acts as
banker, only paying on the order of the society, signed by the secretary
alone, or by the president and secretary. In such cases the secretary
becomes in reality the financial officer of the society, and should make
reports to the society, of funds received and from what sources, and of
the funds expended and for what purposes. See Sec. 52 for his duties as
financial officer.] and the record of proceedings the "Minutes." His
desk should be near that of the chairman, and in the absence of the
chairman, (if there is no vice president present) when the hour for
opening the session arrives, it is his duty to call the meeting to
order, and to preside until the election of a chairman pro tem., which
should be done immediately. He should keep a record of the proceedings,
commencing in a form similar to the following :* [See Clerk and Minutes
in Part II, Sec. 51.]
"At a regular quarterly meeting of [state the name of the society] held
on the 31st day of March, 1875, at [state the place of meeting], the
President in the chair, the minutes were read by the clerk and
approved." If the regular clerk is absent, insert after the words "in
the chair," the following: "The clerk being absent, Robert Smith was
appointed clerk pro tem.
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The minutes were then read and approved." If the minutes were not read,
say "the reading of the minutes was dispensed with." The above form
will show the essentials, which are as follows: (a) The kind of
meeting, "regular" [or stated] or "special," or "adjourned regular,"
or "adjourned special;" (b) name of the assembly; (c) date and place of
meeting (excepting when the place is always the same); (d) the fact of
the presence of the regular chairman and clerk, or in their absence the
names of their substitutes; (e) whether the minutes of the previous
meeting were approved.
The minutes should he signed by the person who acted as clerk for that
meeting: in some societies the chairman must also sign them. When
published, they should be signed by both officers.
In keeping the minutes much depends upon the kind of meeting, and
whether the minutes are to be published. If they are to be published,
it is often of far more interest to know what was said by the leading
speakers, than to know what routine business was done, and what
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In such case the duties of the secretary are arduous, and he should have
at least one assistant. In ordinary society meetings and meetings of
Boards of Managers and Trustees, on the contrary, there is no object in
reporting the debates; the duty of the clerk, in such cases, is mainly
to record what is "done" by the assembly, not what is said by the
members. Without there is a rule to the contrary, he should enter every
Principal motion [Sec. 6] that is before the assembly, whether it is
adopted or rejected; and where there is a division [see Voting, Sec. 38],
or where the vote is by ballot, he should enter the number of votes on
each side; and when the voting is by yeas and nays [Sec. 38], he should
enter a list of the names of those voting on each side. He should
endorse on the reports of committees, the date of their reception, and
what further action was taken upon them, and preserve them among the
records, for which he is responsible. He should in the minutes make a
brief summary of a report that has been agreed to, except where it
contains resolutions, in which case the resolutions will he entered in
full as adopted by the assembly, and not as
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if it was the report accepted. The proceedings of the committee of the
whole [Sec. 32], or while acting informally [Sec. 33], should not be entered
on the minutes. Before an adjournment without day, it is customary to
read over the minutes for approval, if the next meeting of the board or
society will not occur for a long period. Where the regular meetings
are not separated by too great a time, the minutes are read at the next
The clerk should, previous to each meeting, for the use of the chairman,
make out an order of business [Sec. 44], showing in their exact order what
is necessarily to come before the assembly. He should also have at each
meeting a list of all standing committees, and such select committees as
are in existence at the time. When a committee is appointed, he should
hand the names of the committee and all papers referred to it to the
chairman, or some other of its members.
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Art. VIII. Miscellaneous.
42. A Session of an assembly is a meeting* [See definitions in
Introduction for the distinction between "meeting" and "session."]
which, though it may last for days, is virtually one meeting, as a
session of a Convention; or even months, as a session of Congress; it
terminates by an "adjournment without day." The intermediate
adjournments from day to day, or the recesses taken during the day, do
not destroy the continuity of the meeting--they in reality constitute
one session. In the case of a permanent society, having regular
meetings every week, month, or year, for example, each meeting
constitutes a separate session of the society, which session however can
be prolonged by adjourning to another day.
If a principal motion [Sec. 6] is indefinitely postponed or rejected at one
session, while it cannot be introduced again at the same session [see
Renewal of a Motion, Sec. 26], it can be at
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the next, without it is prohibited by a rule of the assembly.
No one session of the assembly can interfere with the rights of the
assembly at any future session,* [Any one session can adopt a rule or
resolution of a permanent nature, and it continues in force until at
some future session it is rescinded. But these Standing Rules, as they
are termed, do not interfere with future sessions, because at any moment
a majority can suspend or rescind them, or adopt new ones.] without it
is expressly so provided in their Constitution, Bylaws, or Rules of
Order, all of which are so guarded (by requiring notice of amendments,
and at least a two-thirds vote for their adoption) that they are not
subject to sudden changes, but may be considered as expressing the
deliberate views of the whole society, rather than the opinions or
wishes of any particular meeting. Thus, if the presiding officer were
ill, it would not be competent for one session of the assembly to elect
a chairman to hold office longer than that session, as it cannot control
or dictate to the next session of the assembly. By going through the
prescribed routine of an election to fill the vacancy, giving whatever
notice is required, it could then legally elect a chairman to hold
office while the vacancy lasted. So it
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is improper for an assembly to postpone anything to a day beyond the
next succeeding session, and thus attempt to prevent the next session
from considering the question. On the other band, it is not permitted
to move a reconsideration [Sec. 27] of a vote taken at a previous session
[though the motion to reconsider can be called up, provided it was made
at the last meeting of the previous session.] Committees can be
appointed to report at a future session.
Note On Session--In Congress, and in fact all legislative bodies, the
limits of the sessions are clearly defined; but in ordinary societies
having a permanent existence, with regular meetings more or less
frequent, there appears to be a great deal of confusion upon the
subject. Any society is competent to decide what shall constitute one
of its sessions, but, where there is no rule on the subject, the common
parliamentary law would make each of its regular or special meetings a
separate session, as they are regarded in this Manual.
The disadvantages of a rule making a session include all the meetings of
an ordinary society, held during a long time as one year, are very
great. [Examine Indefinitely Postpone, Sec. 24, and Renewal of a Motion, Sec.
26.] If members of any society take advantage of the freedom allowed by
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each regular meeting a separate session, and repeatedly renew obnoxious
or unprofitable motions, the society can adopt a rule prohibiting the
second introduction of any principal question [Sec. 6] within, say, three
or six months after its rejection, or indefinite postponement, or after
the society has refused to consider it. But generally it is better to
suppress the motion by refusing to consider it [Sec. 15].
43. A Quorum of an assembly is such a number as is competent to
transact its business. Without there is a special rule on the subject,
the quorum of every assembly is a majority of all the members of the
assembly. But whenever a society has any permanent existence, it is
usual to adopt a much smaller number, the quorum being often less than
one-twentieth of its members; this becomes a necessity in most large
societies, where only a small fraction of the members are ever present
at a meeting.* [While a quorum is competent to transact any business, it
is usually not expedient to transact important business without there is
a fair attendance at the meeting, or else previous notice of such action
has been given.]
The Chairman should not take the chair till a quorum is present, except
where there is no hope of there being a quorum, and then no business can
be transacted, except simply
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to adjourn. So whenever during the meeting there is found not to be a
quorum present, the only thing to be done is to adjourn--though if no
question is raised about it, the debate can be continued, but no vote
taken, except to adjourn.
In committee of the whole, the quorum is the same as in the assembly; in
any other committee the majority is a quorum, without the assembly order
otherwise, and it must wait for a quorum before proceeding to business.
If the number afterwards should be reduced below a quorum, business is
not interrupted, unless a member calls attention to the fact; but no
question can be decided except when a quorum is present. Boards of
Trustees, Managers, Directors, etc., are on the same footing as
committees, in regard to a quorum. Their power is delegated to them as
a body, and what number shall be present in order that they may act as a
Board, is to be decided by the society that appoints the Board. If no
quorum is specified, then a majority constitutes a quorum.
44. Order of Business. It is customary for every society having a
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to adopt an order of business for its meetings. When no rule has been
adopted, the following is the order:
(1) Reading the Minutes of the previous meeting [and their approval].
(2) Reports of Standing Committees.
(3) Reports of Select Committees.
(4) Unfinished Business.
(5) New Business.
Boards of Managers, Trustees, etc., come under the head of standing
committees. Questions that have been postponed from a previous
meeting, come under the head of unfinished business; and if a subject
has been made a "special order" for the day, it shall take precedence of
all business except reading the minutes. If it is desired to transact
business out of its order, it is necessary to suspend the rules [Sec. 18],
which can only be done by a two-thirds vote; but as each subject comes
up, a majority can at once lay it on the table [Sec. 19], and thus reach
any question which they desire to first dispose of.
The order of business, in considering any report or proposition
containing several paragraphs,* [No vote should be taken on the adoption
of the several paragraphs,--one vote being taken finally on the
adoption of the whole paper. By not adopting separately the different
paragraphs, it is in order, after they have all been amended, to go back
and amend any of them still further. In committee a similar paper would
be treated the same way [see Sec. 30]. In Sec. 48 (b) an illustration is
given of the practical application of this section.] is as follows:
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The whole paper should be read entirely through by the clerk; then the
Chairman should read it by paragraphs, pausing at the end of each, and
asking, "Are there any amendments proposed to this paragraph?" If none
are offered, he says, "No amendments being offered to this paragraph,
the next will be read;" he then reads the next, and proceeds thus to the
last paragraph, when he states that the whole report or resolutions have
been read, and are open to amendment. He finally puts the question on
agreeing to or adopting the whole paper as amended. If there is a
preamble it should be read after the last paragraph.
If the paper has been reported back by a committee with amendments, the
clerk reads only the amendments, and the Chairman then reads the first
and puts it to the question, and so on till all the amendments are
adopted or rejected, admitting amendments to the committee's amendments,
but no others. When
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through with the committee's amendments, the Chairman pauses for any
other amendments to be proposed by the assembly; and when these are
voted on, he puts the question on agreeing to or adopting the paper as
amended. Where the resolutions have been just read by the member
presenting them, the reading by the clerk is usually dispensed with
without the formality of a vote. By "suspending the rules" [Sec. 18], or
by general consent, a report can be at once adopted without following
any of the above routine.
45. Amendments of Rules of Order. These rules can be amended at any
regular meeting of the assembly, by a two-thirds vote of the members
present, provided the amendment was submitted in writing at the previous
regular meeting. And no amendment to Constitutions or By-Laws shall be
permitted, without at least equal notice and a two-thirds vote.*
[Constitutions, By-Laws and Rules of Order should always prohibit their
being amended by less than a two-thirds vote, and without previous
notice of the amendment being given. If the By-Laws should contain
rules that it may be desirable to occasionally suspend, then they should
state how they can be suspended, just as is done in these Rules of
Order, Sec. 18. If there is no such rule it is impossible to suspend any
rule, if a single member objects.
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ORGANIZATION AND CONDUCT OF BUSINESS.*
[The exact words used by the chairman or member, are in many cases in
quotations. It is not to be inferred that these are the only forms
permitted, but that these forms are proper and common. They are
inserted for the benefit of those unaccustomed to parliamentary forms,
and are sufficiently numerous for ordinary meetings.]
Art. IX. Organization and Meetings.
46. An Occasional or Mass Meeting. (a) Organization. When a meeting
is held which is not one of an organized society, shortly after the
time appointed for the meeting, some member of the assembly steps
forward and says: "The meeting will please come to order; I move that
Mr. A. act as chairman of this meeting." Some one else says, "I second
the motion." The first member then puts the
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question to vote, by saying, "It has been moved and seconded that Mr. A.
act as chairman of this meeting; those in favor of the motion will say
aye," and when the affirmative vote is taken, he says, "those opposed
will say no." If the majority vote in the affirmative, he says, "The
motion is carried; Mr. A. will take the chair." If the motion is lost,
he announces that fact, and calls for the nomination of some one else
for chairman, and proceeds with the new nomination as in the first
case.* [Sometimes a member nominates a chairman and no vote is taken,
the assembly signifying their approval by acclamation. The member who
calls the meeting to order, instead of making the motion himself, may
act as temporary chairman, and say: "The meeting will please come to
order: will some one nominate a chairman?" He puts the question to
vote on the nomination as described above. In large assemblies, the
member who nominates, with one other member, frequently conducts the
presiding officer to the chair, and the chairman makes a short speech,
thanking the assembly for the honor conferred on him.]
When Mr. A. takes the chair, he says, "The first business in order is
the election of a secretary." Some one then makes a motion as just
described, or he says "I nominate Mr. B," when the chairman puts the
question as before. Sometimes several names are called out, and the
chairman, as he hears them, says, "Mr. B. is nominated; Mr. C. is
nominated," etc; he then takes a vote on the first one he heard, putting
the question thus: "As many as are in favor of
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Mr. B. acting as secretary of this meeting, will say aye;--those
opposed will say no." If the motion is lost the question is put on Mr.
C., and so on, till some one is elected. In large meetings the
secretary takes his seat near the chairman: he should in all cases keep
a record of the proceedings as described in Sec. 51.
(b) Adoption of Resolutions. These two officers are all that are
usually necessary for a meeting; so, when the secretary is elected, the
chairman asks, "What is the further pleasure of the meeting?" If the
meeting is merely a public assembly called together to consider some
special subject, it is customary at this stage of the proceedings for
some one to offer a series of resolutions previously prepared, or else
to move the appointment of a committee to prepare resolutions upon the
subject. In the first case he rises and says, "Mr. Chairman;" the
chairman responds, "Mr. C." Mr. C., having thus obtained the floor,
then says, "I move the adoption of the following resolutions," which he
then reads and hands to the chairman;* [The practice in legislative
bodies, is to send to the clerk's desk all resolutions, bills, etc., the
title of the bill and the name of the member introducing it, being
endorsed on each. In such bodies, however, there are several clerks and
only one chairman. In many assemblies there is but one clerk or
secretary, and, as he has to keep the minutes, there is no reason for
his being constantly interrupted to read every resolution offered in
such assemblies, without there is a rule or established custom to the
contrary, it is allowable, and frequently much better to hand all
resolutions, reports, etc., directly to the chairman. If they were read
by the member introducing them, and no one calls for another reading,
the chairman can omit reading them when be thinks they are fully
understood. In reference to the manner of reading and stating the
question, when the resolution contains several paragraphs, see Rules of
Order, Sec. 44.]
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some one else says, "I second the motion." The chairman sometimes
directs the secretary to read the resolutions again, after which he
says, "The question is on the adoption of the resolutions just read,"
and if no one rises immediately, he adds, "Are you ready for the
question?" If no one then rises, he says, "As many as are in favor of
the adoption of the resolutions just read, will say aye;" after the ayes
have voted, he says, "As many as are of a contrary opinion will say no;"
he then announces the result of the vote as follows: "The motion is
carried--the resolutions are adopted," or, "The ayes have it the
resolutions are adopted."
(c) Committee to draft Resolutions. If it is preferred to appoint a
committee to draft resolutions, a member, after he has addressed the
Chair and been recognized, says, "I move that a committee be appointed
to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting on,"
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etc., adding the subject for which the meeting was called. This motion
being seconded, the Chairman states the question [Sec. 67] and asks, "Are
you ready for the question?" If no one rises, he puts the question,
announces the result, and, if it is carried, he asks, "Of how many shall
the committee consist?" If only one number is suggested, he announces
that the committee will consist of that number; if several numbers are
suggested, he states the different ones and then takes a vote on each,
beginning with the largest, until one number is selected.
He then inquires, "How shall the committee be appointed?" This is
usually decided without the formality of a vote. The committee may be
"appointed" by the Chair--in which case the chairman names the
committee and no vote is taken; or the committee may be "nominated" by
the Chair, or the members of the assembly (no member naming more than
one, except by unanimous consent), and then the assembly vote on their
appointment. When the chairman nominates, after stating the names he
puts one question on the entire committee, thus: "As many as are in
favor of these gentlemen constituting the committee, will say
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aye." If nominations are made by members of the assembly, and more
names mentioned than the number of the committee, a separate vote should
be taken on each name. (In a mass meeting it is safer to have all
committees appointed by the chairman.)
When the committee are appointed they should at once retire and agree
upon a report, which should be written out as described in Sec. 53. During
their absence other business may be attended to, or the time may be
occupied with hearing addresses. Upon their return the chairman of the
committee (who is the one first named on the committee, and who quite
commonly, though not necessarily, is the one who made the motion to
appoint the committee), avails himself of the first opportunity to
obtain the floor,* [See Rules of Order, Sec. 2.] when he says, "The
committee appointed to draft resolutions, are prepared to report." The
chairman tells him that the assembly will now hear the report, which is
then read by the chairman of the committee, and handed to the presiding
officer, upon which the committee is dissolved without any action of the
A member then moves the "adoption" or
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"acceptance" of the report, or that "the resolutions be agreed to,"
which motions have the same effect if carried, namely, to make the
resolutions the resolutions of the assembly just as if the committee had
had nothing to do with them.* [A very common error is, after a report
has been read, to move that it be received whereas, the fact that it has
been read, shows that it has been already received by the assembly.
Another mistake, less common but dangerous, is to vote that the report
be accepted (which is equivalent to adopting it), when the intention is
only to have the report up for consideration and afterwards move its
When one of these motions is made, the chairman acts as stated above
when the resolutions were offered by a member. If it is not desired to
immediately adopt the resolutions, they can be debated, modified, their
consideration postponed, etc., as explained in Sec.Sec. 55-63.
When through with the business for which the assembly were convened, or
when from any other cause it is desirable to close the meeting, some one
moves "to adjourn;" if the motion is carried and no other time for
meeting has been appointed, the chairman says, "The motion is carried;
this assembly stands adjourned without day." [Another method by which
the meeting may be conducted is shown in Sec. 48.]
(d) Additional Officers. If more officers are
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required than a chairman and secretary, they can be appointed before
introducing the resolutions, in the manner described for those officers;
or the assembly can first form a temporary organization in the manner
already described, only adding "pro tem." to the title of the officers,
thus: "chairman pro tem." In this latter case, as soon as the
secretary pro tem. is elected, a committee is appointed to nominate the
permanent officers, as in the case of a convention [Sec. 47]. Frequently
the presiding officer is called the President, and sometimes there is a
large number of Vice Presidents appointed for mere complimentary
purposes. The Vice Presidents in large formal meetings, sit on the
platform beside the President, and in his absence, or when he vacates
the chair, the first on the list that is present should take the chair.
47. Meeting of a Convention or Assembly of Delegates. If the members
of the assembly have been elected or appointed as members, it becomes
necessary to know who are properly members of the assembly and entitled
to vote, before the permanent organization is effected. In this case a
temporary organization is made, as already described, by the election of
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and secretary "pro tem.," when the chairman announces, "The next
business in order is the appointment of a committee on credentials." A
motion may then be made covering the entire case, thus: "I move that a
committee of three on the credentials of members be appointed by the
Chair, and that the committee report as soon as practicable;" or they
may include only one of these details, thus: "I move that a committee
be appointed on the credentials of members." In either case the Chair
proceeds as already described in the cases of committees on resolutions
[Sec. 46, (c)].
On the motion to accept the report of the committee, none can vote
except those reported by the committee as having proper credentials.
The committee, beside reporting a list of members with proper
credentials, may report doubtful or contested cases, with
recommendations, which the assembly may adopt, or reject, or postpone,
etc. Only members whose right to their seats is undisputed, can vote.
The chairman, after the question of credentials is disposed of, at least
for the time, announces that "The next business in order is the election
of permanent officers of the assembly." Some one then moves the
appointment of a
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committee to nominate the officers, in a form similar to this: "I move
that a committee of three be appointed by the Chair to nominate the
permanent officers of this convention." This motion is treated as
already explained. When the committee make their report, some one moves
"That the report of the committee be accepted and that the officers
nominated be declared the officers of this convention.* [Where there is
any competition for the offices, it is better that they be elected by
ballot. In this case, when the nominating committee report, a motion
can be made as follows: "I move that the convention now proceed to
ballot for its permanent officers;" or "I move that we now proceed to
the election, by ballot, of the permanent officers of this convention."
[See Rules of Order Sec. 38, for balloting, and other methods of voting.]
The constitutions of permanent societies usually provide that the
officers shall be elected by ballot.] This motion being carried, the
chairman declares the officers elected, and instantly calls the new
presiding officer to the chair, and the temporary secretary is at the
same time replaced. The convention is now organized for work.
48. A Permanent Society. (a) First Meeting. When it is desired to
form a permanent society, those interested in it should see that only
the proper persons are invited to be present, at a certain time and
place. It is not usual in mass meetings, or meetings called to organize
a society, to commence until
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fifteen or thirty minutes after the appointed time, when some one steps
forward and says, "The meeting will please come to order; I move that
Mr. A. act as chairman of this meeting;" some one "seconds the motion,"
when the one who made the motion puts it to vote (or, as it is called,
"puts the question"), as already described, under an "occasional
meeting" [Sec. 46, (a)]; and, as in that case, when the chairman is
elected, he announces as the first business in order the election of a
After the secretary is elected, the chairman calls on some member who is
most interested in getting up the society, to state the object of the
meeting. When this member rises he says, "Mr. Chairman;" the chairman
then announces his name, when the member proceeds to state the object of
the meeting. Having finished his remarks, the chairman may call on
other members to give their opinions upon the subject, and sometimes a
particular speaker is called out by members who wish to hear him. The
chairman should observe the wishes of the assembly, and while being
careful not to be too strict, he must not permit any one to occupy too
much time and weary the meeting.
When a sufficient time has been spent in this
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informal way, some one should offer a resolution, so that definite
action can be taken. Those interested in getting up the meeting, if it
is to be a large one, should have previously agreed upon what is to be
done, and be prepared at the proper time to offer a suitable resolution,
which may be in a form similar to this: "Resolved, That it is the sense
of this meeting that a society for [state the object of the society]
should now be formed in this city." This resolution, when seconded, and
stated by the chairman, would be open to debate and be treated as
already described [Sec. 46, (b)]. This preliminary motion could have been
offered at the commencement of the meeting, and if the meeting is a very
large one, this would probably be better than to have the informal
After this preliminary motion has been voted on, or even without waiting
for such motion, one like this can be offered: "I move that a committee
of five be appointed by the Chair, to draft a Constitution and By-Laws
for a society for [here state the object], and that they report at an
adjourned meeting of this assembly." This motion can be amended [Sec. 56]
by striking out and adding words, etc., and it is debatable.
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When this committee is appointed, the chairman may inquire, "Is there
any other business to be attended to?" or, "What is the further pleasure
of the meeting?" When all business is finished, a motion can be made to
adjourn to meet at a certain place and time, which, when seconded, and
stated by the Chair, is open to debate and amendment. It is usually
better to fix the time of the next meeting [see Sec. 63] at an earlier
stage of the meeting, and then, when it is desired to close the meeting,
move simply "to adjourn," which cannot be amended or debated. When this
motion is carried, the chairman says, "This meeting stands adjourned to
meet at," etc., specifying the time and place of the next meeting.
(b) Second Meeting.* [Ordinary meetings of a society are conducted like
this second meeting, the chairman, however, announcing the business in
the order prescribed by the rules of the society [Sec. 72]. For example,
after the minutes are read and approved, he would say, "The next
business in order is hearing reports from the standing committees." He
may then call upon each committee in their order, for a report, thus:
"Has the committee on applications for membership any report to make?"
In which case the committee may report, as shown above, or some member
of it reply that they have no report to make. Or, when the chairman
knows that there are but few if any reports to make, it is better, after
making the announcement of the business, for him to ask, "Have these
committees any reports to make?" After a short pause, if no one rises
to report, he states, "There being no reports from the standing
committees, the next business in order is hearing the reports of select
committees," when he will act the same as in the case of the standing
committees. The chairman should always have a list of the committees,
to enable him to call upon them, as well as to guide him in the
appointment of new committees.] At the next meeting the officers of the
previous meeting, if present, serve until the permanent officers are
elected. When the hour arrives for the meeting, the chairman standing,
says, "The meeting will
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please come to order:" as soon as the assembly is seated, he adds, "The
secretary will read the minutes of the last meeting." If any one
notices an error in the minutes, he can state the fact as soon as the
secretary finishes reading them; if there is no objection, without
waiting for a motion, the chairman directs the secretary to make the
correction. The chairman then says, "If there is no objection the
minutes will stand approved as read" [or "corrected," if any corrections
have been made].
He announces as the next business in order, "the hearing of the report
of the committee on the Constitution and By-Laws." The chairman of the
committee, after addressing "Mr. Chairman" and being recognized, reads
the committee's report and then hands it to the chairman.* [In large and
formal bodies the chairman, before inquiring what is to be done with the
report, usually directs the secretary to read it again. See note to Sec.
46 (c), for a few common errors in acting upon reports of committees.
[See also note to Sec. 46 (b).]] If no motion is made, the chairman says,
"You have heard the report read --
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what order shall be taken upon it?" Or simply inquires, "What shall be
done with the report?" Some one moves its adoption, or still better,
moves "the adoption of the Constitution reported by the committee," and
when seconded, the chairman says, "The question is on the adoption of
the Constitution reported by the committee." He then reads the first
article of the Constitution, and asks, "Are there any amendments
proposed to this article?" If none are offered, after a pause, he reads
the next article and asks the same question, and proceeds thus until he
reads the last article, when he says, "The whole Constitution having
been read, it is open to amendment." Now any one can move amendments to
any part of the Constitution.
When the chairman thinks it has been modified to suit the wishes of the
assembly, he inquires, "Are you ready for the question?" If no one
wishes to speak, he puts the question, "As many as are in favor of
adopting the Constitution as amended, will say aye;" and then, "As many
as are opposed, will say no." He distinctly announces the result of the
vote, which should always be done. If the articles of the Constitution
are subdivided into sections
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or paragraphs, then the amendments should be made by sections or
paragraphs, instead of by articles.
The chairman now states that the Constitution having been adopted, it
will be necessary for those wishing to become members to sign it (and
pay the initiation fee, if required by the Constitution), and suggests,
if the assembly is a large one, that a recess be taken for the purpose.
A motion is then made to take a recess for say ten minutes, or until the
Constitution is signed. The constitution being signed, no one is
permitted to vote excepting those who have signed it.
The recess having expired, the chairman calls the meeting to order and
says, "The next business in order is the adoption of By-Laws." Some one
moves the adoption of the By-Laws reported by the committee, and they
are treated just like the Constitution. The chairman then asks, "What
is the further pleasure of the meeting?" or states that the next
business in order is the election of the permanent officers of the
society. In either case some one moves the appointment of a committee
to nominate the permanent officers of the society, which motion is
treated as already described in Sec. 47. As
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each officer is elected he replaces the temporary one, and when they are
all elected the organization is completed.
If the society is one that expects to own real estate, it should be
incorporated according to the laws of the state in which it is situated,
and for this purpose, some one on the committee on the Constitution
should consult a lawyer before this second meeting, so that the laws may
be conformed to. In this case the trustees are usually instructed to
take the proper measures to have the society incorporated.
49. Constitutions, By-Laws, Rules of Order and Standing Rules. In
forming a Constitution and By-Laws, it is always best to procure copies
of those adopted by several similar societies, and for the committee,
after comparing them, to select one as the basis of their own, amending
each article just as their own report is amended by the Society. When
they have completed amending the Constitution, it is adopted by the
committee. The By-Laws are treated in the same way, and then, having
finished the work assigned them, some one moves, "That the committee
rise, and that the chairman (or some other
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member) report the Constitution and By-Laws to the assembly." If this
is adopted, the Constitution and By-Laws are written out, and a brief
report made of this form: "Your committee, appointed to draft a
Constitution and By-Laws, would respectfully submit the following, with
the recommendation that they be adopted as the Constitution and By-Laws
of this society;" which is signed by all the members of the committee
that concur in it. Sometimes the report is only signed by the chairman
of the committee.
In the organization just given, it is assumed that both a Constitution
and By-Laws are adopted. This is not always done; some societies adopt
only a Constitution, and others only By-Laws. Where both are adopted,
the constitution usually contains only the following:
(1) Name and object of the society.
(2) Qualification of members.
(3) Officers, their election and duties.
(4) Meetings of the society (only including what is essential, leaving
details to the By-Laws).
(5) How to amend the Constitution.
These can be arranged in five articles, each article being subdivided
into sections. The
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Constitution containing nothing but what is fundamental, it should be
made very difficult to amend; usually previous notice of the amendment
is required, and also a two-thirds or three-fourths vote for its
adoption [Sec. 73]. It is better not to require a larger vote than
two-thirds, and, where the meetings are frequent, an amendment should
not be allowed to be made except at a quarterly or annual meeting, after
having been proposed at the previous quarterly meeting.
The By-Laws contain all the other standing rules of the society, of such
importance that they should be placed out of the power of any one
meeting to modify; or they may omit the rules relating to the conduct of
business in the meetings, which would then constitute the Rules of Order
of the society. Every society, in its By-Laws or Rules of Order, should
adopt a rule like this: "The rules contained in--(specifying the work
on parliamentary practice) shall govern the society in all cases to
which they are applicable, and in which they are not inconsistent with
the Rules of Order (or By-Laws) adopted by the society." Without such a
rule, any one so disposed, could cause great trouble in a meeting.
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In addition to the Constitution, By-Laws and Rules of Order, in nearly
every society resolutions of a permanent nature are occasionally
adopted, which are binding on the society until they are rescinded or
modified. These are called Standing Rules, and can be adopted by a
majority vote at any meeting. After they have been adopted, they cannot
be modified at the same session except by a reconsideration [Sec. 60]. At
any future session they can be suspended, modified or rescinded by a
majority vote. The Standing Rules, then, comprise those rules of a
society which have been adopted like ordinary resolutions, without the
previous notice, etc., required for By-Laws, and consequently, future
sessions of the society are at liberty to terminate them whenever they
please. No Standing Rule (or other resolution) can be adopted which
conflicts with the Constitution, By-Laws or Rules of Order.* [In
practice these various classes of rules are frequently very much mixed.
The Standing Rules of some societies are really By-Laws as the society
cannot suspend them, nor can they be amended until previous notice is
given. This produces confusion without any corresponding benefit.
Standing Rules should contain only such rules as are subject to the will
of the majority of any meeting, and which it may be expedient to change
at any time, without the delay incident to giving previous notice.
Rules of Order should contain only the rules relating to the orderly
transaction of the business in the meetings of the society. The By-Laws
should contain all the other rules of the society which are of too great
importance to be changed without giving notice to the society of such
change; provided that the most important of these can be placed in a
Constitution instead of in the By-Laws. These latter three should
provide for their amendment. The Rules of Order should provide for
their suspension. The By-Laws sometimes provide for the suspension of
certain articles. None of these three can be suspended without it is
expressly provided for.
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Art. X. Officers and Committees.
50. Chairman or President. It is the duty of the chairman to call the
meeting to order at the appointed time, to preside at all the meetings,
to announce the business before the assembly in its proper order, to
state and put all questions properly brought before the assembly, to
preserve order and decorum, and to decide all questions of order
(subject to an appeal). When he "puts a question" to vote, and when
speaking upon an appeal, he should stand;* [In meetings of boards of
managers, committees and other small bodies, the chairman usually
retains his seat, and even members in speaking do not rise.] in all
other cases he can sit. In all cases where his vote would affect the
result, or where the vote is by ballot, he can vote. When a member
rises to speak, he
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should say, "Mr. Chairman," and the chairman should reply, "Mr. A;" he
should not interrupt a speaker as long as he is in order, but should
listen to his speech, which should be addressed to him and not to the
assembly. The chairman should be careful to abstain from the appearance
of partizanship, but he has the right to call another member to the
chair while he addresses the assembly on a question; when speaking to a
question of order he does not leave the chair.
51. The Clerk, Secretary or Recording Secretary, as he is variously
called, should keep a record of the proceedings, the character of which
depends upon the kind of meeting. In an occasional or mass meeting, the
record usually amounts to nothing, but he should always record every
resolution or motion that is adopted.
In a convention it is often desirable to keep a full record for
publication, and where it lasts for several days, it is usual, and
generally best, to appoint one or more assistant clerks. Frequently it
is a tax on the judgment of the clerk to decide what to enter on the
record, or the "Minutes," as it is usually called. Sometimes the points
of each speech should be entered,
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and at other times only the remark that the question was discussed by
Messrs. A., B. and C. in the affirmative, and Messrs. D., E. and F. in
the negative. Every resolution that is adopted should be entered, which
can be done in this form: "On motion of Mr. D. it was resolved that,
Sometimes a convention does its work by having certain topics previously
assigned to certain speakers, who deliver formal addresses or essays,
the subjects of which are afterwards open for discussion in short
speeches, of five minutes, for instance. In such cases the minutes are
very brief, without they are to be published, when they should contain
either the entire addresses or carefully prepared abstracts of them, and
should show the drift of the discussion that followed each one. In
permanent societies, where the minutes are not published, they consist
of a record of what was done and not what was said, and should be kept
in a book.
The Form of the Minutes can be as follows:
"At a regular meeting of the M. L. Society, held in their hall, on
Tuesday evening, March 16, 1875, Mr. A. in the chair and Mr. B. acting
as secretary, the minutes of the previous meeting were read and
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approved. The committee on Applications reported the names of Messrs.
C. and D. as applicants for membership; and on motion of Mr. F. they
were admitted as members. The committee on --- reported a series of
resolutions, which were thoroughly discussed and amended, and finally
adopted as follows:
"Resolved, That * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "
On motion of Mr. L. the society adjourned.
L- B-, Secretary.
If the proceedings are to be published, the secretary should always
examine the published proceedings of similar meetings, so as to conform
to the custom, excepting where it is manifestly improper.
The Constitution, By-Laws, Rules of Order and Standing Rules should all
be written in one book, leaving every other page blank; and whenever an
amendment is made to any of them, it should be immediately entered on
the page opposite to the article amended, with a reference to the date
and page of the minutes where is recorded the action of the society.
The secretary has the custody of all papers belonging to the society,
not specially under charge of any other officer. Sometimes his
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duties are also of a financial kind, when he should make such reports as
are prescribed in the next section.
52. Treasurer. The duties of this officer vary in different societies.
In probably the majority of cases he acts as a banker, merely holding
the funds deposited with him, and paying them out on the order of the
society signed by the secretary. His annual report, which is always
required, in this case consists of merely a statement of the amount on
hand at the commencement of the year, the amount received during the
year (stating from what source received), the total amount paid out by
order of the society, and the balance on hand. When this report is
presented it is referred to an "auditing committee," consisting of one
or two persons, who examine the treasurer's books and vouchers, and
certify on his report that they "have examined his accounts and vouchers
and find them correct, and the balance on hand is," etc., stating the
amount on hand. The auditing committee's report being accepted is
equivalent to a resolution of the society to the same effect, namely,
that the treasurer's report is correct.
In the case here supposed, the real financial
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statement is made either by the board of trustees, or by the secretary
or some other officer, according to the Constitution of the society.
The principles involved, are, that every officer who receives money is
to account for it in a report to the society, and that whatever officer
is responsible for the disbursements, shall report them to the society.
If the secretary, as in many societies, is really responsible for the
expenses, the treasurer merely paying upon his order, then the secretary
should make a full report of these expenses, so classified as to enable
the society to readily see the amounts expended for various purposes.
It should always be remembered that the financial report is made for the
information of members. The details of dates and separate payments for
the same object, are a hinderance to its being understood, and are
useless, as it is the duty of the auditing committee to examine into the
details and see if the report is correct.
Every disbursing officer should be careful to get a receipt whenever he
makes a payment; these receipts should be preserved in regular order, as
they are the vouchers for the payments, which must be examined by the
auditing committee. Disbursing officers cannot be
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too careful in keeping their accounts, and they should insist upon
having their accounts audited every time they make a report, as by this
means any error is quickly detected and may be corrected. When the
society has accepted the auditing committee's report that the financial
report is correct, the disbursing officer is relieved from the
responsibility of the past, and if his vouchers were lost afterwards, it
would cause no trouble. The best form for these financial reports
depends upon the kind of society, and is best determined by examining
those made in similar societies.
The following form can be varied to suit most cases: (when the
statement of receipts and expenses is very long, it is often desirable
to specify the amounts received from one or two particular sources,
which can be done immediately after stating the total receipts; the same
course can be taken in regard to the expenditures):
The undersigned, Treasurer of the M. L. Society, begs leave to submit
the following annual report:
The balance on hand at the commencement of the year was --- dollars and
--- cents. There was received from all sources during the year, ---
dollars and --- cents; during the same time the
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expenses amounted to --- dollars and --- cents, leaving a balance on
hand of --- dollars and --- cents. The annexed statement of receipts
and expenditures will show in detail the sources from which the receipts
were obtained, and the objects to which the expenditures have been
applied. All of which is respectfully submitted.
Treasurer M. L. S.
The "Statement of receipts and expenditures" can be made, by simply
giving a list of receipts, followed by a list of expenses, and finishing
up with the balance on hand. The auditing committee's certificate to
the correctness of the account should be written on the statement.
Often the statement is made out in the form of an account, as follows:
Dr. The M. L. S. in acct. with S. M., Treas. Cr.
Dec. 31. To rent of hall .. $500 00 Jan. 1. By balance on hand
'' Gas ........... 80 00 from last year's
'' Stationery .... 26 50 account .......... $ 21 13
'' Janitor ....... 360 00 Dec. 31. By initiation fees 95 00
'' Balance on hand 24 63 '' members' dues .. 875 00
$991 13 $991 13
We do hereby certify that we have examined the accounts and vouchers of
the treasurer, and find them correct; and that the balance in his hands
is twenty-four dollars and sixty-three cents. R. V., J. L., Audit Comm.
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53. Committees. In small assemblies, especially in those where but
little business is done, there is not much need of committees. But in
large assemblies, or in those doing a great deal of business, committees
are of the utmost importance. When a committee is properly selected, in
nine cases out of ten its action decides that of the assembly. A
committee for action should be small and consist only of those heartily
in favor of the proposed action. A committee for deliberation or
investigation, on the contrary, should be larger and represent all
parties in the assembly, so that its opinion will carry with it as great
weight as possible. The usefulness of the committee will be greatly
impaired, if any important faction of the assembly be unrepresented on
the committee. The appointment of a committee is fully explained in Sec.
The first member named on a committee is their chairman, and it is his
duty to call together the committee, and preside at their meetings. If
he is absent, or from any cause fails or declines to call a meeting, it
is the duty of the committee to assemble on the call of any two of their
members. The committee are a miniature assembly, only being able to act
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a quorum is present. If a paper is referred to them they must not
deface it in any way, but write their amendments on a separate sheet.
If they originate the paper, all amendments must be incorporated in it.
When they originate the paper, usually one member has previously
prepared a draft, which is read entirely through, and then read by
paragraphs, the chairman pausing after each paragraph and asking, "Are
there any amendments proposed to this paragraph?" No vote is taken on
the adoption of the separate paragraphs, but after the whole paper has
been read in this way, it is open to amendment, generally, by striking
out any paragraph or inserting new ones, or by substituting an entirely
new paper for it. When it has been amended to suit the committee, they
should adopt it as their report, and direct the chairman or some other
member to report it to the assembly. It is then written out, usually
commencing in a style similar to this: "The committee to which was
referred [state the matter referred], beg leave to submit the following
report;" or, "Your committee appointed to [specify the object], would
respectfully report," etc. It usually closes thus: "All of which is
respectfully submitted," followed by the signatures of
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all the members concurring in the report, or sometimes by only that of
If the minority submit a report, it commences thus: "The undersigned, a
minority of the committee appointed," etc., continuing as the regular
report of the committee. After the committee's report has been read, it
is usual to allow the minority to present their report, but it cannot be
acted upon except by a motion to substitute it for the report of the
committee. When the committee's report is read, they are discharged
without any motion. A motion to refer the paper back to the same
committee (or to recommit), if adopted, revives the committee.
Art. XI. Introduction of Business.
54. Any member wishing to bring business before the assembly, should,
without it is very simple, write down in the form of a motion, what he
would like to have the assembly adopt, thus:
Resolved, That the thanks of this convention be tendered to the citizens
of this community for their hearty welcome and generous hospitality.
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When there is no other business before the assembly, he rises and
addresses the chairman by his title, thus: "Mr. Chairman," who
immediately recognizes him by announcing his name.* [If the chairman has
any special title, as President, for instance, he should be addressed by
it, thus: "Mr. President." Sometimes the chairman recognizes the
speaker by merely bowing to him, but the proper course is to announce
his name.] He, then having the floor, says that he "moves the adoption
of the following resolution," which he reads and hands to the chairman.*
[Or, when he is recognized by the chair, he may say that he wishes to
offer the following resolutions, which he reads and then moves their
adoption.] Some one else seconds the motion, and the chairman says, "It
has been moved and seconded that the following resolution be adopted,"
when he reads the resolution; or he may read the resolution and then
state the question thus: "The question is on the adoption of the
resolution just read." The merits of the resolution are then open to
discussion, but before any member can discuss the question or make any
motion, he must first obtain the floor as just described. After the
chairman states the question, if no one rises to speak, or when he
thinks the debate closed, he asks, "Are you ready for the question?" If
no one then rises, he puts the question in a form similar to the
following: "The question is on the adoption of the resolution
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which you have heard; as many as are in favor of its adoption will say
aye." When the ayes have voted, he says, "As many as are of a. contrary
opinion will say no."* [There are many other ways of putting a question;
see Sec. 67, and Rules of Order, Sec. 38. Other illustrations of the ordinary
practice in introducing business will be seen in Sec.Sec. 46-48.] He then
announces the result, stating that the motion is carried, or lost, as
the case may be, in the following form: "The motion is carried--the
resolution is adopted;" or, "The ayes have it--the resolution is
adopted." A majority of the votes cast is sufficient for the adoption
of any motion, excepting those mentioned in Sec. 68.
Art. XII. Motions.
55. Motions Classified According to their Object. Instead of
immediately adopting or rejecting a resolution as originally submitted,
it may be desirable to dispose of it in some other way, and for this
purpose various motions have come into use, which can be made while a
resolution is being considered, and for the time being, supersede it.
No one can make any of these motions while another member has the floor,
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excepting as shown in Sec. 64, which see for the circumstances under which
each motion can be made.
The following list comprises most of these motions, arranged in eight
classes, according to the object for which each motion is used. [The
names of the motions are printed in Italics; each class is treated
separately, as shown by the references.]
(1) To Amend or Modify ....................................... [Sec. 56]
(2) To Defer action .......................................... [Sec. 57]
(a) Postpone to a certain time.
(b) Lie on the Table.
(3) To Suppress Debate ....................................... [Sec. 58]
(a) Previous Question.
(b) An Order limiting or closing Debate.
(4) To Suppress the question ................................. [Sec. 59]
(a) Objection to its Consideration.
(b) Postpone Indefinitely.
(c) Lie on the Table.
(5) To Consider a question the second time ................... [Sec. 60]
(6) Order and Rules .......................................... [Sec. 61]
(a) Orders of the day.
(b) Special Orders.
(c) Suspension of the Rules.
(d) Questions of Order.
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(7) Miscellaneous ............................................ [Sec. 62]
(a) Reading of Papers.
(b) Withdrawal of a Motion.
(c) Questions of Privilege.
(8) To close a meeting ....................................... [Sec. 63]
(a) Fix the time to which to Adjourn.
56. To Amend or Modify. (a) Amend. If it is desired to modify the
question in any way, the proper motion to make is to "amend," either by
"adding" words, or by "striking out" words; or by "striking out certain
words and inserting others;" or by "substituting" a different motion on
the same subject for the one before the assembly; or by "dividing the
question" into two or more questions, as the mover specifies, so as to
get a separate vote on any particular point or points. Sometimes the
enemies of a measure seek to amend it in such a way as to divide its
friends, and thus defeat it.
When the amendment has been moved and seconded, the chairman should
always state the question distinctly, so that every one may know exactly
what is before them, reading first the paragraph which it is proposed to
amend; then the words to be struck out, if there are any; next, the
words to be inserted, if any; and finally, the paragraph as it will
stand if the
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amendment is adopted. He then states that the question is on the
adoption of the amendment, which is open to debate, the remarks being
confined to the merits of the amendment, only going into the main
question so far as is necessary in order to ascertain the propriety of
adopting the amendment.
This amendment can be amended, but an "amendment of an amendment" cannot
be amended. None of the undebatable motions mentioned in Sec. 66, except
to fix the time to which to adjourn, can be amended, nor can the motion
to postpone indefinitely.
(b) Commit. If the original question is not well digested, or needs
more amendment than can well be made in the assembly, it is usual to
move "to refer it to a committee." This motion can be made while an
amendment is pending, and it opens the whole merits of the question to
debate. This motion can be amended by specifying the number of the
committee, or how they shall be appointed, or when they shall report, or
by giving them any other instructions. [See Sec. 53 on committees, and Sec.
46 (c) on their appointment.]
57. To Defer Action. (a) Postpone to a certain time. If it is desired
to defer action
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upon a question till a particular time, the proper motion to make, is to
"postpone it to that time." This motion allows of but limited debate,
which must be confined to the propriety of the postponement to that
time; it can be amended by altering the time, and this amendment allows
of the same debate. The time specified must not be beyond that session
[Sec. 70] of the assembly, except it be the next session, in which case it
comes up with the unfinished business at the next session. This motion
can be made when a motion to amend, or to commit or to postpone
indefinitely, is pending.
(b) Lie on the table. Instead of postponing a question to a particular
time, it may be desired to lay it aside temporarily until some other
question is disposed of, retaining the privilege of resuming its
consideration at any time.* [In Congress this motion is commonly used to
defeat a measure, though it does not prevent a majority from taking it
at any other time. Some societies prohibit a question from being taken
from the table, except by a two-thirds vote. This rule deprives the
society of the advantages of the motion to "lie on the table." because
it would not be safe to lay a question aside temporarily, if one-third
of the assembly were opposed to the measure, as that one-third could
prevent its ever being taken from the table. A bare majority should not
have the power, in ordinary societies, to adopt or reject a question, or
prevent its consideration, without debate. [See note at end of Sec. 35,
Rules of Order, on the principles involved in making questions
undebatable.] The only way to accomplish this, is to move that the
question "lie on the table." This motion
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allowing of neither debate nor amendment, the chairman immediately puts
the question; if carried, the whole matter is laid aside until the
assembly vote to "take it from the table" (which latter motion is
undebatable and possesses no privilege). Sometimes this motion is used
to suppress a measure, as shown in Sec. 59 (c).
58. To Suppress Debate. (a) Previous Question. While as a general
rule free debate is allowed upon every motion,* [Except an "objection to
the consideration of the question" [Sec. 59 (a)]. See note to Sec. 35, Rules
of Order, for a full discussion of this subject of debate.] which, if
adopted, has the effect of adopting the original question or removing it
from before the assembly for the session--yet, to prevent a minority
from making an improper use of this privilege, it is necessary to have
methods by which debate can be closed, and final action at once be taken
upon a question.
To accomplish this, when any debatable question is before the assembly,
it is only necessary for some one to obtain the floor and "call for the
previous question;" this call being seconded, the chairman, as it allows
of no debate, instantly puts the question, thus: "Shall the main
question be now put?" If this is carried by a two-thirds vote [Sec. 68],
all debate instantly
=== Page 137 ===========================================================
ceases, excepting that the member who offered the original resolution,
or reported it from a committee, is, as in all other cases, entitled to
the floor to close the debate; after which, the chairman immediately
puts the questions to the assembly, first, on the motion to commit, if
it is pending; if this is carried, of course the subject goes to the
committee; if, however, it fails, the vote is next taken on amendments,
and finally on the resolution as amended.
If a motion to postpone, either definitely or indefinitely, or a motion
to reconsider, or an appeal is pending, the previous question is
exhausted by the vote on the postponement, reconsideration or appeal,
and does not cut off debate upon any other motions that may be pending.
If the call for the previous question fails, that is, the debate is not
cut off, the debate continues the same as if this motion had not been
made. The previous question can be called for simply on an amendment,
and after the amendment has been acted upon, the main question is again
open to debate.
(b) An order limiting or closing debate. Sometimes, instead of cutting
off debate entirely by ordering the previous question, it is desirable
to allow of but very limited debate. In
=== Page 138 ===========================================================
this case, a motion is made to limit the time allowed each speaker or
the number of speeches on each side, or to appoint a time at which
debate shall close and the question be put. The motion may be made to
limit debate on an amendment, in which case the main question would
afterwards be open to debate and amendment; or it may be made simply on
an amendment to an amendment.
In ordinary societies, where harmony is so important, a two-thirds vote
should be required for the adoption of any of the above motions to cut
off or limit debate.* [In the House of Representatives, these motions
require only a majority vote for their adoption. In the Senate, to the
contrary, not even two-thirds of the members can force a measure to its
passage without allowing debate, the Senate rules not recognizing the
59. To Suppress the Question. (a) Objection to the consideration of a
question. Sometimes a resolution is introduced that the assembly do not
wish to consider at all, because it is profitless, or irrelevant to the
objects of the assembly, or for other reasons. The proper course to
pursue in such case, is for some one, as soon as it is introduced, to
"object to the consideration of the question." This objection not
requiring a second, the chairman immediately
=== Page 139 ===========================================================
puts the question, "Will the assembly consider this question?" If
decided in the negative by a two-thirds vote, the question is
immediately dismissed, and cannot be again introduced during that
session. This objection must be made when the question is first
introduced, before it has been debated, and it can be made when another
member has the floor.
(b) Postpone indefinitely. After the question has been debated, the
proper motion to use in order to suppress the question for the session,
is to postpone indefinitely. It cannot be made while any motion except
the original or main question is pending, but it can be made after an
amendment has been acted upon, and the main question, as amended, is
before the assembly. It opens the merits of the main question to debate
to as great an extent as if the main question were before the assembly.
On account of these two facts, in assemblies with short sessions it is
not very useful, as the same result can usually be more easily attained
by the next motion.
(c) Lie on the table. If there is no possibility during the remainder
of the session of obtaining a majority vote for taking up the question,
then the quickest way of suppressing it is
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to move "that the question lie on the table;" which, allowing of no
debate, enables the majority to instantly lay the question on the table,
from which it cannot be taken without their consent.
From its high rank [Sec. 64] and undebatable character, this motion is very
commonly used to suppress a question, but, as shown in Sec. 57 (b), its
effect is merely to lay the question aside till the assembly choose to
consider it, and it only suppresses the question so long as there is a
majority opposed to its consideration.
60. To Consider a question a second time. Reconsider. When a question
has been once adopted, rejected or suppressed, it cannot be again
considered during that session [Sec. 70], except by a motion to "reconsider
the vote" on that question. This motion can only be made by one who
voted on the prevailing side, and on the day the vote was taken which it
is proposed to reconsider.* [In Congress it can be made on the same or
succeeding day; and if the yeas and nays were not taken on the vote, any
one can move the reconsideration. The yeas and nays are however ordered
on all important votes in Congress, which is not the case in ordinary
societies.] It can be made and entered on the minutes in the midst of
debate, even when another member has the floor, but cannot be considered
until there is no question
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before the assembly, when, if called up, it takes precedence of every
motion except to adjourn and to fix the time to which the assembly shall
A motion to reconsider a vote on a debatable question, opens to debate
the entire merits of the original motion. If the question to be
reconsidered is undebatable, then the reconsideration is undebatable.
If the motion to reconsider is carried, the chairman announces that the
question now recurs on the adoption of the question the vote on which
has been just reconsidered: the original question is now in exactly the
same condition that it was in before the first vote was taken on its
adoption, and must be disposed of by a vote.
When a motion to reconsider is entered on the minutes, it need not be
called up by the mover till the next meeting, on a succeeding day.* [If
the assembly has not adopted these or similar rules, this paragraph
would not apply, but this motion to reconsider would, like any other
motion, fall to the ground if not acted upon before the close of the
session at which the original vote was adopted.] If he fails to call it
up then, any one else can do so. But should there be no succeeding
meeting, either adjourned or regular, within a month, then the effect of
the motion to reconsider
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terminates with the adjournment of the meeting at which it was made, and
any one can call it up at that meeting.
In general no motion (except to adjourn) that has been once acted upon,
can again be considered during the same session, except by a motion to
reconsider. [The motion to adjourn can be renewed if there has been
progress in business or debate, and it cannot be reconsidered.] But this
rule does not prevent the renewal of any of the motions mentioned in Sec.
64, provided the question before the assembly has in any way changed;
for in this case, while the motions are nominally the same, they are in
fact different.* [Thus to move to postpone a resolution is a different
question from moving to postpone it after it has been amended. A motion
to suspend the rules for a certain purpose cannot be renewed at the same
meeting, but can be at an adjourned meeting. A call for the orders of
the day that has been negatived, cannot be renewed while the question
then before the assembly is still under consideration. See Rules of
Order, Sec. 27, for many peculiarities of this motion.]
61. Order and Rules. (a) Orders of the Day. Sometimes an assembly
decides that certain questions shall be considered at a particular time,
and when that time arrives those questions constitute what is termed the
"orders of the day," and if any member "calls for the orders of the
day," as it requires no second, the
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chairman immediately puts the question, thus: "Will the assembly now
proceed to the orders of the day?" If carried, the subject under
consideration is laid aside, and the questions appointed for that time
are taken up in their order. When the time arrives, the chairman may
state that fact, and put the above question without waiting for a
motion. If the motion fails, the call for the orders of the day cannot
be renewed till the subject then before the assembly is disposed of.*
[In Congress, a member entitled to the floor cannot be interrupted by a
call for the orders of the day. In an ordinary assembly, the most
common case where orders of the day are decided upon is where it is
necessary to make a programme for the session. When the hour arrives
for the consideration of any subject on the programme, these rules
permit any member to call for the orders of the day (as described in
Rules of Order, Sec. 2) even though another person has the floor. If this
were not permitted, it would often be impossible to carry out the
programme, though wished for by the majority. A majority could postpone
the orders of the day, when called for, so as to continue the discussion
of the question then before the assembly. An order as to the time when
any subject shall be considered, must not be confounded with the rules
of the assembly; the latter must be enforced by the chairman, without
they are suspended by a two-thirds vote; the former, in strictness, can
only be carried out by the order of a majority of the assembly then
present and voting.]
(b) Special Order. If a subject is of such importance that it is
desired to consider it at a special time in preference to the orders of
the day and established order of business, then a motion should be made
to make the question a "special order" for that particular time. This
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motion requires a two-thirds vote for its adoption, because it is really
a suspension of the rules, and it is in order whenever a motion to
suspend the rules is in order. If a subject is a special order for a
particular day, then on that day it supersedes all business except the
reading of the minutes. A special order can be postponed by a majority
vote. If two special orders are made for the same day, the one first
made takes precedence.
(c) Suspension of the Rules. It is necessary for every assembly, if
discussion is allowed, to have rules to prevent its time being wasted,
and to enable it to accomplish the object for which the assembly was
organized. And yet at times their best interests are subserved by
suspending their rules temporarily. In order to do this, some one makes
a motion "to suspend the rules that interfere with," etc., stating the
object of the suspension. If this motion is carried by a two-thirds
vote, then the particular thing for which the rules were suspended can
be done. By "general consent," that is, if no one objects, the rules
can at any time be ignored without the formality of a motion.
(d) Questions of Order. It is the duty of the chairman to enforce the
rules and preserve
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order, and when any member notices a breach of order, he can call for
the enforcement of the rules. In such cases, when he rises he usually
says, "Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order." The chairman then
directs the speaker to take his seat, and having heard the point of
order, decides the question and permits the first speaker to resume his
speech, directing him to abstain from any conduct that was decided to be
out of order. When a speaker has transgressed the rules of decorum he
cannot continue his speech, if any one objects, without permission is
granted him by a vote of the assembly. Instead of the above method,
when a member uses improper language, some one says, "I call the
gentleman to order;" when the chairman decides as before whether the
language is disorderly.
(e) Appeal. While on all questions of order, and of interpretation of
the rules and of priority of business, it is the duty of the chairman to
first decide the question, it is the privilege of any member to "appeal
from the decision." If the appeal is seconded, the chairman states his
decision, and that it has been appealed from, and then states the
question, thus: "Shall the decision of the chair stand as the judgment
of the assembly?" [or society, convention, etc.]
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The chairman can then, without leaving the chair, state the reasons for
his decision, after which it is open to debate (no member speaking but
once), excepting in the following cases, when it is undebatable: (1)
When it relates to transgressions of the rules of speaking, or to some
indecorum, or to the priority of business; and (2) when the previous
question was pending at the time the question of order was raised.
After the vote is taken, the chairman states that the decision of the
chair is sustained or reversed, as the case may be.
62. Miscellaneous. (a) Reading of papers and (b) Withdrawal of a
motion. If a speaker wishes to read a paper, or a member to withdraw
his motion after it has been stated by the chair, it is necessary, if
any one objects, to make a motion to grant the permission.
(c) Questions of Privilege. Should any disturbance occur during the
meeting, or anything affecting the rights of the assembly or any of the
members, any member may "rise to a question of privilege," and state the
matter, which the chairman decides to be, or not to be, a matter of
privilege: (from the chairman's decision of course an appeal can be
taken). If the question is one of privilege, it supersedes,
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for the time being, the business before the assembly; its consideration
can be postponed to another time, or the previous question can be
ordered on it so as to stop debate, or it can be laid on the table, or
referred to a committee to examine and report upon it. As soon as the
question of privilege is in some way disposed of, the debate which was
interrupted is resumed.
63. To Close the Meeting. (a) Fix the time to which to adjourn. If it
is desired to have an adjourned meeting of the assembly, it is best some
time before its close to move, "That when this assembly adjourns, it
adjourns to meet at such a time," specifying the time. This motion can
be amended by altering the time, but if made when another question is
before the assembly, neither the motion nor the amendment can be
debated. If made when no other business is before the assembly, it
stands as any other main question, and can be debated. This motion can
be made even while the assembly is voting on the motion to adjourn, but
not when another member has the floor.
(b) Adjourn. In order to prevent an assembly
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from being kept in session an unreasonably long time, it is necessary to
have a rule limiting the time that the floor can be occupied by any one
member at one time.* [Ten minutes is allowed by these rules.] When it is
desired to close the meeting, without the member who has the floor will
yield it, the only resource is to wait till his time expires, and then a
member who gets the floor should move "to adjourn." The motion being
seconded, the chairman instantly put the question, as it allows of no
amendment or debate; and if decided in the affirmative, he says, "The
motion is carried;--this assembly stands adjourned." If the assembly
is one that will have no other meeting, instead of adjourned," he says
"adjourned without day," or "sine die." If previously it had been
decided when they adjourned to adjourn to a particular time, then he
states that the assembly stands adjourned to that time. If the motion
to adjourn is qualified by specifying the time, as, "to adjourn to
tomorrow evening," it cannot be made when any other question is before
the assembly; like any other main motion, it can then be amended and
debated.* [For the effect of an adjournment upon unfinished business see
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64. Order of Precedence of Motions. The ordinary motions rank as
follows, and any of them (except to amend) can be made while one of a
lower order is pending, but none can supersede one of a higher order:
To Fix the Time to which to Adjourn.
To Adjourn (when unqualified).
For the Orders of the Day.
To Lie on the Table.
For the Previous question.
To Postpone to a Certain Time.
To Postpone Indefinitely.
The motion to Reconsider can be made when any other question is before
the assembly, but cannot be acted upon until the business then before
the assembly is disposed of; when, if called up, it takes precedence of
all other motions except to adjourn and to fix the time to which to
adjourn. Questions incidental to those before the assembly take
precedence of them, and must be acted upon first.
A question of order, a call for the orders of the day, or an objection
to the consideration of a question, can be made while another member has
the floor: so, too, can a motion to reconsider, but it can only be
entered on the minutes
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at that time, as it cannot supersede the question then before the
Art. XIII. Debate.
65. Rules of Speaking in Debate. All remarks must be addressed to the
chairman, and must be confined to the question before the assembly,
avoiding all personalities and reflections upon any one's motives. It
is usual for permanent assemblies to adopt rules limiting the number of
times any member can speak to the same question, and the time allowed
for each speech;* [In Congress the House of Representatives allows from
each member only one speech of one hour's length; the Senate allows two
speeches without limit as to length.] as otherwise one member, while he
could speak only once to the same question, might defeat a measure by
prolonging his speech and declining to yield the floor except for a
motion to adjourn. In ordinary assemblies two speeches should be
allowed each member (except upon an appeal), and these rules also limit
the time for each speech to ten minutes. A majority can permit a member
to speak oftener or longer whenever it is desired, and the motion
granting such permission cannot be debated.
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However, if greater freedom is wanted, it is only necessary to consider
the question informally, or if the assembly is large, go into committee
of the whole.* [See Rules of Order, Sec.Sec. 32, 33.] If on the other hand it
is desired to limit the debate more, or close it altogether, it can be
done by a two-thirds vote, as shown in Sec. 58 (b).
66. Undebatable Questions and those Opening the Main Question to
Debate. [A full list of these will be found in Sec. 35, to which the
reader is referred. To the undebatable motions in that list, should be
added the motion to close or limit debate.]
Art. XIV. Miscellaneous.
67. Forms of Stating and Putting Questions. Whenever a motion has been
made and seconded, it is the duty of the chairman, if the motion is in
order, to state the question so that the assembly may know what question
is before them. The seconding of a motion is required to prevent a
question being introduced when only one member is in favor of it, and
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but little attention is paid to it in mere routine motions, or when it
is evident that many are in favor of the motion; in such cases the
chairman assumes that the motion is seconded.
Often in routine work the chairman puts the question without waiting for
even a motion, as few persons like to make such formal motions, and much
time would be wasted by waiting for them (but the chairman can only do
this as long as no one objects.) The following motions, however, do not
have to be seconded: (a) a call for the orders of the day; (b) a call
to order, or the raising of any question of order; and (c) an objection
to the consideration of a question.
One of the commonest forms of stating a question is to say that, "It is
moved and seconded that," and then give the motion. When an amendment
has been voted on, the chairman announces the result, and then says,
"The question now recurs on the resolution," or, "on the resolution as
amended" as the case may be. So in all cases, as soon as a vote is
taken, he should immediately state the question then before the
assembly, if there be any. If the motion is debatable or can be
amended, the chairman, usually after stating the question, and
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always before finally putting it, inquires, "Are you ready for the
question?" Some of the common forms of stating and putting questions
are shown in Sec.Sec. 46-48. The forms of putting the following questions,
are, however, peculiar:
If a motion is made to Strike out certain words, the question is put in
this form: "Shall these words stand as a part of the resolution?" so
that on a tie vote they are struck out.
If the Previous Question is demanded, it is put thus: "Shall the main
question be now put?"
If an Appeal is made from the decision of the Chair, the question is
put thus: "Shall the decision of the Chair stand as the judgment of the
assembly?" [convention, society, etc.] If the Orders of the Day are
called for, the question is put thus: "Will the assembly now proceed to
the Orders of the Day?"
When, upon the introduction of a question, some one objects to its
consideration, the chairman immediately puts the question thus: "Will
the assembly consider it?" or, "Shall the question be considered?" [or
If the vote has been ordered to be taken by yeas and nays, the question
is put in a form similar to the following: "As many as are in favor of
the adoption of these resolutions, will, when their names are called,
answer yes [or aye]--those opposed will answer no."
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68. Motions requiring a two-thirds vote.* [See Two-thirds Vote, page
159, and Sec. 39 of Rules of Order.]
All motions that have the effect to make a variation from the
established rules and customs, should require a two-thirds vote for
their adoption. Among these established customs should be regarded the
right of free debate upon the merits of any measure, before the assembly
can be forced to take final action upon it. The following motions would
come under this rule:
To amend or suspend the rules.
To make a special order.
To take up a question out of its proper order.
An objection to the consideration of a question.
The Previous Question, or a motion to limit or close debate.
69. Unfinished Business. When an assembly adjourns, the unfinished
business comes up at the adjourned meeting, if one is held, as the first
business after the reading of the minutes; if there is no adjourned
meeting, the unfinished business comes up immediately before new
business at the next regular meeting, provided the regular meetings are
more frequent than yearly.* [See Rules of Order, Sec. 11, for a fuller
explanation of the effect of an adjournment upon unfinished business,
and the Congressional practice.] If the meetings are only once a
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year, the adjournment of the session puts an end to all unfinished
70. Session. Each regular meeting of a society constitutes a separate
session. Any meeting which is not an adjournment of another meeting,
commences a new session; the session terminates as soon as the assembly
"adjourns without day."* [In ordinary practice, a meeting is closed by
moving simply "to adjourn;" the society meet again at the time provided
either by their rules or by a resolution of the society. If they do not
meet till the time for the next regular meeting, as provided in the
By-Laws, then the adjournment closed the session, and was in effect an
adjournment without day. If, however, they had previously fixed the
time for the next meeting, either by a direct vote, or by adopting a
programme of exercises covering several meetings or even days, in either
case the adjournment is in effect to a certain day, and does not close
When an assembly has meetings for several days consecutively, they all
constitute one session. Each session of a society is independent of the
other sessions, excepting as expressly provided in their Constitution,
By-Laws, or Rules of Order, and excepting that resolutions adopted by
one session are in force during succeeding sessions until rescinded by a
majority vote [see note to Sec. 49].
Where a society holds more than one regular session a year, these rules
limit the independence of each session as follows: (a) The Order of
Business prescribed in Sec. 72 requires that the
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minutes of the previous meeting, the reports of committees previously
appointed, and the unfinished business of the last session, shall all
take precedence of new business, and that no subject can be considered
out of its proper order, except by a two-thirds vote; (b) it is
allowable to postpone a question to the next session, when it comes up
with unfinished business, but it is not allowable to postpone to a day
beyond the next session, and thus interfere with the right of the next
session to consider the question; (c) a motion to reconsider a vote can
be made at one meeting and called up at the next meeting, even though it
be another session, provided the society holds its regular sessions as
frequently as monthly.* [See Rules of Order, Sec. 42, for a full discussion
of this subject.]
71. Quorum. [See Sec. 43 for full information on this subject.]
72. Order of Business. Every society should adopt an order of business
adapted to its special wants. The following is the usual order where no
special rule is adopted, and when more than one regular meeting is held
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(1) Reading of the minutes of the last meeting.
(2) Reports of Boards of Trustees or Managers, and Standing Committees.
(3) Reports of Select Committees.
(4) Unfinished Business (including questions postponed to this meeting).
(5) New Business.
Business cannot be considered out of its order, except by a two-thirds
vote; but a majority can lay on the table the different questions as
they come up, and thus reach a subject they wish first to consider. If
a subject has been made a Special Order for this meeting, then it is to
be considered immediately after the minutes are read.
73. Amendments of Constitutions, By-Laws and Rules of Order, should be
permitted only when adopted by a two-thirds vote, at a regular meeting
of the society, after having been proposed at the previous regular
meeting. If the meetings are very frequent, weekly, for instance,
amendments should be adopted only at the quarterly meetings, after
having been proposed at the previous quarterly meeting.
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Legal Rights of Assemblies and the Trial of their Members.
The Right of Deliberative Assemblies to Punish their Members. A
deliberative assembly has the inherent right to make and enforce its own
laws and punish an offender--the extreme penalty, however being
expulsion from its own body. When expelled, if the assembly is a
permanent society, it has a right, for its own protection, to give
public notice that the person has ceased to be a member of that society.
But it has no right to go beyond what is necessary for self protection
and publish the charges against the member. In a case where a member of
a society was expelled, and an officer of the society published, by
their order, a statement of the grave charges upon which he been found
guilty, the expelled member recovered damages from the officer, in a
suit for libel--the court holding that the truth of the charges did
not affect the case.
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