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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 132 March 2007

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 132  March 2007
Answers to your Parliamentary Questions

"Dear Parliamentarian" is written by the author of Parliamentary Procedures Made Simple: The Basics, an 80 minute video that tells how to have better meetings.






Dear Friend,

Do you have any rules established concerning this? How long ago was the

election?  Is there a state law that says homeowners can inspect

documents?  (Many states have this law).

The Parliamentarian wrote:





Dear Friend,
    Yes ballots are open for inspection.  It is not un-American for someone to want to inspect the ballots.  In our national elections this can be done.  If the ballots are secret and you have provided for that, then the person inspecting them should not know how individuals voted.  I would ask the person why he wants to inspect the ballots.  Is it because he or she thinks the votes were not counted correctly?  Does this person believe that people voted that should not have voted -- for example have not paid assessments?  Does the person believe that the ballots were not counted correctly?  Usually for someone to want to inspect the ballots that person believes that an election was not handled correctly.
    The secretary certainly can be present while this is going on.  By being open, and willing to co-operate with this request, shows that the board or those who conducted the election have nothing to hide.

The Parliamentarian

Freda Whaley wrote:

When I moved into this neighborhood we were allowed to pay our dues monthly.  Now, three management companies later I'm being told I must pay the dues in full twice a year.  Since nothing had been done officially I continued to send my check once a month only to have the last check returned to me un-cashed saying they would only except a check for payment in full.  My plan is to continue to send a check each month along with the one(s) returned to me.  As long as I keep up a good faith effort to pay my homeowner's dues, am I on safe legal ground?

Our homeowners are in the process of trying to recall our present board of directors and this action is a direct result of that action.  Will this make a difference?

Thank you for your help.

Freda Whaley

Dear Freda,
    You are not on safe ground. Put the check into a savings account that you are sending monthly, and then send the entire payment in full twice a year.  Rules and procedures change.  I don't know your specific rules, usually the board has the ability to vote on this kind of procedure and see that it is carried out.  Right now your board is still the board and you must follow this new procedure until it can be overturned.

The Parliamentarian


Mal MacDonald wrote:

The Parliamentarian,
One of the members, who had previously submitted a ballot, has asked if he could rescind his original ballot and replace with new choices. My position as ballot custodian has been to allow anyone to change their ballot prior to the Annual Meeting and the closing of the ballot deposit. There apparently was an article by a CAM member in our local paper (Naples, FL) stating that once a ballot has been received by either the property management firm or the association they could not be rescinded. I believe that ruling pertains to a condo association and not an HOA.

Thanks for your prompt response, kind of unusual in today's world.






Dear Mal,
    What you need to do is to check with the state laws, then you will know if that is the case.  I am not familiar with Florida laws.  But you can call the Secretary of State's office and someone can direct you i the right direction to find the answer.
    Now this is what the official book on Robert's Rules states:  "A member has a right to change his vote up to the time the result is announced; after that, he can make the change only by the unanimous consent of the assembly granted without debate."  Robert's  Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 10th edition. page 395.
    In our book, Webster's New World, Robert's Rules of Order Simplified and Applied, on page 71, "A member has the right to change his or her vote until the result is announced.  After the result is announced, however, the member can change his or her vote only be permission of the assembly.   Permission can be granted by general consent or by a motion to grant permission which needs a second, is undebatable, and takes a majority vote to adopt."
    If no state law prohibits this, then I would recommend that your HOA adopt election rules which allow for the procedure that you have been doing.  This makes it formal and a legitimate rule of your organization. I would also include in this rule of order the method for which a member can do this.


Mr. Robert McConnell,


My name is Mike Robinson, President of Columbia Shag Club.  Our shag club is a non-profit organization established for the purpose of promoting a dance we call the shag in the state of South Carolina.


My issue is I have a member on our board that is always causing dissention and a major issue that has surface is who on the board establish the dates, times and place of our board meetings.  In the past the President of the Club has established these guidelines, however hear lately one of our members has called this to questions.  I have constantly researched "Roberts Rules of Order" and have not found any resource to help resolve this issue.  Is there any guidance you can give me, if so I would greatly appreciate any enlightment you can send me.  My email address is below.  Thanks in advance.



Mike Robinson


Dear Mike,
    The date of the board meetings should be established in the bylaws.  For example, the board will meet the third Thursday of the month.  The time is usually put in what is called standing rules.  If the place varies, that too could be put in standing rules.  If it is not in your bylaws about the day to meet or that the president has the power to do this, and this has been the standing practice for a while, the member certainly could make a motion that the board do this instead of the president.  First look in your governing documents.  To stop these problems, my advice is to let the entire board members decide.  The board could vote to set the date, time or place of the meetings, or it could  adopt a standing rule that the president decide this.  If the members vote one way or the other, then that will solve the problem.

The Parliamentarian

Mike Robinson wrote:

Xav Green wrote:

Hi The Parliamentarian:

This is Pastor Green. How are you? I have a few questions for you.

1. At a recent church business meeting the membership approved the
minutes from the previous business meeting. The next day a few members
noticed a few important errors such as incorrect financial
disbursements and missing financial information. Worse a few items
that were voted  but not reflected in the minutes. (At business
meeting, we were all tired from a long day at church so anything would
have been approved). :)

We are going to have a call business meeting to straighten it out and
other matters. My question is:

Should we rescind the adopted motion to approve the minutes or
amending the motion previously adopted with the new amendments to the
minutes would be more appropriate, since it only changes only parts of
the previously adopted minutes?

2. At a recent meeting several motions were made and after being
seconded it was voted and adopted without discussion. According to
RONR it was a motion that had a discussion phase after being seconded.
A member pointed this out to me several days later that there was no
discussion on the motion and there should have discussion. She was
right. The Parliamentarian we did have some discussion on the item before the before
the motion was made. My questions is:

If it is a debatable motion and we had discussion on the motion and
then moved and second it without discussion is this valid? One thing
to add: When it came to the discussion before the motion, the members
were not informed that we would    have the discussion phase before a
motion is made and not after the motion is seconded. How do we prevent
future problems such as this?

Thanks again

Dear Pastor Green,
    Hello, and nice to hear from you again.  To answer your first question, this is what RONR, 10 edition, page 458 states:  "If the existence of an error or material omission in the minutes becomes reasonably established after their approval--even many year later--the minutes can then be corrected by means of the motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted, which requires a two-thirds vote, or a majority vote with notice, or the vote of a majority of the entire membership, or unanimous consent."
    Yes, the motion was valid.  The person needed to raise a point of order at the time the motion was being presented.  Since the person didn't it is to late to bring it up now.  The motion stands as adopted.  Here is an easy way to solve the second problem.  Before the official business begins, let the members know how to handle a motion.  If I were chairing the meeting, I would state:  "It has been brought to my attention that at the last meeting a main motion was adopted without discussion.  All main motions are open to debate.  The person who makes the motion has the first right to speak to the motion."   If you are not chairing the meeting, then let the presiding officer know this.  The presiding officer should have this phrase memorized, "It is moved and seconded that we....Is there any discussion?"
    Are you training the people who are serving as officers?  If not, may I suggest our video/DVD "Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple the Basics."  It will help all including your members.  We also have a Training Package for Secretaries entitled "McMinutes."  Your church might consider get these to help them.  For more information about both go to our web site "".  McMinutes is described on the opening page and the other product is on the link that says "bookstore."


The Parliamentarian


Catherine Sluder wrote:

Dear Parliamentarian,

I am President of my church  council. Recently, a recommendation came  from our Worship & Music Committee to spend $2000.00 on Vestments for  the Sanctuary. I was informed by the committee chair-person that  since it was a committee recommendation, it did not require a motion  of any kind, only discussion and a vote. Is this proper procedure ?


Dear Charles,
    No this is not proper procedure.  A committee is a subordinate group of the membership.  The members always have a right to discuss and decide these issues. At a meeting, the Committee Chairman, should rise and make the following motion, "By direction of the Worship and Music Committee, I move that we spend $2000. on Vestments for the Sanctuary."   It does not need  second because it comes from a committee.  The presiding officer then places to the assembly for discussion and vote.  President, "The question is on the adoption of the motion to spend $2000. on Vestments for the Sanctuary. Is there any discussion?"  Members have the right to discuss it before the vote.  May I suggest that you purchase a copy of our book Robert's Rules of Order Simplified and Applied?  You will find it easy to read and use.  It will help resolve these issues.  Our video/DVD Parliamentary Procedure the Basics also addresses these issues.  You can find them on our Web Site

The Parliamentarian

Sonya Baity wrote:


Dear Mr. McConnell,

I would really appreciate your input and insight on a matter we are desperately trying to resolve.  I have been the Board president for my HOA for a smidge over a year now and during that time we have had to switch management companies.  The previous management company told us that we could appoint our Treasurer and/or Secretary so long as the seats of President, VP and one other voting board member were elected persons ( i.e., just the Pres. and VP seats had to be filled by elected individuals). The current management company is now telling us that the Treasurer and Secretary must also be voting elected members.  We only have a 3 seat board, so the Treasurer and Secretary will have to be the same person.

Where do we stand?

With much appreciation,
Sonya Baity
Dobson Glen HOA


Dear Sonya,
   Please tell me what state your are in before I can answer this.

The Parliamentarian


Sonya Baity wrote:


Sorry!  Here I thought I was being so thorough... we're in AZ.

Dear Sonya,
   Where is the management company getting it information?  From your bylaws?  Corporation papers?  State laws? Your covenants?  Please ask them.  I just tried to check in state laws.  There didn't seem to be a restriction there.  Ask them to show you where it states that.
The Parliamentarian

Sonya Baity wrote:

Thank you, The Parliamentarian!  So, to be sure that I understand, the previous management company that told us that we could assign the positions/duties of the Secretary and the Treasurer, as long as the Pres. and VP are elected individuals, was correct, and there is no precedent otherwise.  And unless it is specifically stated to the contrary somewhere in our bylaws, covenants or corporation papers, we don't have any state restrictions against assigning the Treasurer's duties to an appointed, non-voting member.  Please let me know if I have misinterpreted your response.

This clarification is of much use and assistance.
Thank you,
Sonya Baity



Dear Sonya,
    If the officers are to be chosen from the board, somewhere in your governing documents it should specifically say that.  For example, it might say, "The board shall elect from its own members a president, Vice President , Secretary and Treasurer."  If the bylaws state that a board shall elect or appoint a Treasurer or Secretary, then it can be anyone in the association.  It is  important to read your documents carefully.  It is a common mistake for HOA to believe that the officers should be board members.  In Washington State Non Profit law, they do not have to be board members.  The board of directors votes for the officers of the corporation unless state in bylaws differently.  And these do not have to be members of the board.  Another thought about the office of treasurer.  An attorney told me once that you would not want this person to be a board member because the board should carefully oversee the financial operations of the corporation.  He told me of a case where the Treasurer was on the board and was embezzling funds because the board didn't scrutinize what she was doing.  After all she was a board member and wouldn't do that.
    I personally am in favor of finding someone in the association who is good at this and appointing that person to be treasurer and then carefully overseeing the work.  And this could also hold true to a secretary.  It is hard to take board minutes and participate in the discussion of the board when you are also taking minutes.

The Parliamentarian


Lisa Bennett wrote:

Dear Parliamentarian,


At a meeting of the members of an HOA the notice stated that the "doors open at 6:30pm" and the meeting begins "7:00pm".  We close the doors at 7:00pm after everyone has signed in that arrived in line by 7:00pm.  Do we have to allow members into the meeting that arrive late after the meeting has been called to order?


Dear Lisa,
    Yes, you have to let members in after 7PM.  You will be violating their right to attend the meetings if you don't.  I think that you confusing this procedure with closing the polls in voting for officers and board members.  But even in an election where the polls have been closed, someone can make the motion to open the polls to allow late comers to vote.

The Parliamentarian



Harry Bryant wrote:

Our bylaws contain an article entitled “Parliamentary Authority” which states: “All matters of business of the Society shall be conducted in parliamentary authority of Robert's Rules of Order (most recent edition).”


We are now proposing an amendment to our bylaws that would require that individual votes of each officer, on each motion, are recorded in the Board Meeting minutes, which is then posted in our newsletter.


One of our officers has brought this up:


Robert's Rules are quite clear on this subject.  Individual votes and general discussion on matters are not to be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.  It even states that it is not required and is not proper to include these items.  The motion, second and outcome of the vote is to appear in the minutes.  Robert's has forbidden making individual's voting records public, for over one hundred years.  I would consider this question seriously, before going against the essence of Robert's Rules of Order.


So my question would be, can we do this as a bylaw change? If not, how can we do it, since all of the Board except for this one member are in favor of it.


Harry Bryant


Dear Harry,
    Yes, you can adopt something that conflicts with Robert's rules of Order.  The book even provides for that under a section called "Rules of Order."  These are parliamentary rules that the society wants to be different than the parliamentary authority.  An example of  a rule of order that societies change is that concerning debate.  Robert's allows for ten minutes and twice on each motion. Some organizations limit it to five minutes.
    To counter what your member states.  Robert's Rules does require a roll call vote to be recorded in the minutes.  A roll call vote is the secretary calling each members' name and how they voted--yes or no or abstain.  So if you instituted a roll call vote on each motion, then that would solve your problem without amending your bylaws.  You could adopt it as a special rule of order.
    Now about letting others know of the voting record of the board.  Again if the board adopts a special rule of order allowing the voting recorded to be put in the newsletter that too can be done.  If you are incorporated, often corporate codes allow for members to see board minutes.  So they could find out that way how board members voted if there was a roll call vote in the minutes.
    A rule of order needs previous notice and a two-thirds vote.  Rules of Order can be suspended for a meeting while bylaws can't be.

The Parliamentarian wrote:

Can a HOA Board of Directors use HO dues to upgrade and landscape the property of a HO who refuses to maintain their property?  The HOA payed $7,000.00 to landscape property belonging to the HO who refused to maintain.  Washington State.


Thank you


Dear Friend,
    The laws do not address this issue, but your covenants should address it.  In our covenants we have some language that provides for that and can send the bill to the homeowner.  However, the HOA should adopt some rules to say what extent it upgrades and landscapes the property.

The Parliamentarian