Parliamentary Procedures At A Glance
What Is Parliamentary Procedure?
It is an organized method for a group to accomplish their goals in an effective, fair, and efficient manner. It is effective by providing an orderly way to conduct the group’s business and make decisions. It is fair because it is a democratic process for making a decision. It is efficient by keeping the group focused. One item of business is disposed of before going on to another. Most parliamentary procedure is based on Robert’s Rules of Order which describes procedures on how
One of the basics of parliamentary procedure is how to move and dispose of a motion.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Recognition by the chair. A member seeks permission to speak to initiate a motion by simply raising his/her hand.
- The motion. A member should say, "I move that ….." It is not correct to say, "I make a motion that …"
- Second. The motion must receive a second before any discussion begins. A member does not need to be recognized to second a motion but just states, "I second the motion" or simply "Second". Obtaining a second indicates that at least two people favor discussing the motion. If there is no second, the motion is dropped.
- Discussion. Once the motion has been moved and seconded, its merits can then be discussed. A member of the group must first be recognized by the president.
- Vote. Discussion on a motion may end in three ways:
- No one says anything;
- A member says "I call for the question" which means that the member wants the motion brought to a vote, or
- The president decides that there has been adequate discussion. Some methods of voting include: voice vote (aye/nay) , a show of hands, standing, roll call, or by secret ballot. The president should always call for both sides of the vote even if the vote appears to be unanimous. The president announces the result of the vote. "The motion passes/fails." A majority is needed to pass a motion. A majority is more than half of the members present and voting.
There are times when members of the group will want to change the motion while it is in the discussion phase. This is called an amendment. It is recommended that only one amendment be permitted per motion. An amendment generally strikes out, adds, or substitutes words in the main motion. A motion has been moved and seconded and is being discussed.
To amend a motion:
- A group member is recognized by the president to speak, then says, "I move to amend the motion to ….by…..(adding words, deleting words, etc.)."
- A second to this amendment is required.
- Discussion follows and is for only the amendment, not the original motion. In the example, members may discuss the merits of the amendment, but not the original motion.
- When it is time to vote, the president conducts a vote to determine if the amendment passes. A majority is needed.
- If the amendment passed, discussion follows on the motion as amended. .
- After discussion, a vote is taken on the motion as amended. A majority is needed.
- If the amendment did not pass, discussion on the original motion continues.
- After discussion, a vote is taken on the motion. A majority vote is needed.
To Lay On Or Take From The Table
There are times when there is a reason to delay the decision on a motion. Perhaps there is not enough information to make a decision. The procedure to do this is called "laying on the table". This delays a decision until another time.
- During discussion of a motion, a member is recognized by the president and says, "I move to lay the motion on the table".
- Once again, a second is required.
- There is no discussion permitted. The group proceeds directly to vote whether to table the motion or not. A majority is needed.
- To bring back the motion so it can be discussed and acted upon, is called "taking from the table". While in old business, a member says, "I move to take from the table (motion’s name)".
- A second is required.
- There is no discussion permitted. The group proceeds to vote whether to bring the motion from the table or not. A majority is needed. Once a motion has been brought back from the table, it is the next item of business.
Adjournment is used to end the meeting.
- To adjourn the meeting, a member is recognized by the president and says, "I move that we adjourn."
- Once again a second is required.
- There is no discussion permitted. The group proceeds to vote whether to end the meeting or not. A majority is needed.
A motion to adjourn can be given at any time during a meeting, but hopefully will not be misused to adjourn prematurely when there is important business yet to be addressed.