Question: President deciding which votes count

Our PTO president sent out an email stating that she was taking a vote on spending $1,400 for our school. She stated that if she received no response by 3 p.m. that day, it would constitute a yes vote; if you chose to vote no, then you must include the reason why, and then it would only be taken into consideration. Can she do this?

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Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

Say what? Your PTO president thinks that she counts invisible ballots? Elly thought that sort of thing only happened in U.S. presidential elections! Yikes!

Seriously though, Elly doubts that your current bylaws allow your president to hold a vote by email under the process you describe, but please check them anyway. (And if this sort of thing is currently allowed, you’ll want to be sure to amend it soon.)

This doesn’t sit well with Elly for a few of reasons. First, not every parent has a computer, email access, or the speedy fingers that your president seems to have. And to force parents with an ultimatum in this manner gives the impression that your leaders are a tad demanding and somewhat exclusive, if not sneaky. And what about parents who work during the day, who won’t see your president’s email until well after dinnertime?

Now, Elly loves email, especially since it affords leaders the chance to communicate without physically meeting. But Elly doesn’t think it’s practical for time-sensitive matters, especially a vote with your general membership. (Can you say system delays and invalid email addresses?) Remember, to be successful parent group leaders, your decisionmaking and outreach efforts must include all parents, not just those with lightning-quick typing skills or homes equipped with adequate bandwidth. And while email has Elly’s vote as one of the best communication tools for leaders, it should by no means be the only one.

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