Question: Robert's Rules vs. Bylaws in election procedures

Our Nominating Committee presented a complete slate in April and no nominations were taken from the floor. A 2nd candidate (fellow Board member) for President was typed onto a list (ballot?) that was handed out at our election meeting. This was a last minute power play which many of us feel wasn’t right and we feel we should have done something but not sure what. Calls were made suggesting the principal supported this candidate a few days beforehand to select members. In truth, he supported both as both have made significant contributions to our PTO. Justification for doing this was “Robert’s Rules allow it.” An article on your website seems to confirm this but what none of these folks took into account is that by handling this this way, they have now created bad feelings all around. Many of us are neighbors and friends with all the people involved. The VP who was running for President tried to take the high ground and was hoping to contain the fallout and maybe even still win the election, but with voters recruited- and at least several influenced by inaccurate information-and with no time to react, the 2nd candidate won by ballot vote. Some of us are questioning whether we should resign or stay on for the sake of the kids but many just don’t feel good about this whole thing. The Nominating Committee feels there was an end run made around their work. Our questions- did placing the candidate directly on a ballot without a formal nomination at the meeting follow RR’s procedurally (can the nomination itself be questioned or is that too late now)? We’re wondering if RR’s would have allowed us to have put a motion on the floor to delay the election so all the members could have been notified of the additional nominee (BTW, the additional nominee wasn't even at the meeting but sent a statement)? Shouldn’t the actual number of votes for each candidate have been announced? They weren’t nor were they presented in the minutes to the meeting. If they should have been, can we request that the minutes be amended? We think it was a close election and would like to show that. Can we change the bylaws to prevent this from happening again-or will RR’s always override? This is where even if the “Rules” were followed, we don’t believe they were made to be used this way and it also may deter new volunteers from stepping up. Please help.

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Your bylaws supersede Robert's Rules of Order; if your bylaws spell out how an election is run, then those are the rules that should be followed. Under Robert's Rules, if you use a nominating committee then the names chosen by the nominating committee are presented first. The nominating committee gives its report, then you open the floor to additional nominations. No one should appear on the ballot without being nominated -- either by the committee or from the floor. Regarding announcing the number of votes, in the interest of openness that probably should have been done. In a small group that can sometimes be divisive because it's easy to figure out how each individual voted. On the other hand, a few people (those who counted the ballots) know the vote and word is likely to get around anyway. So you might as well announce it. The issue of falsely using the principal's name to claim an endorsement is disturbing. The principal shouldn't be endorsing candidates, since it creates a difficult situation if his candidate is not the one elected. And claiming you have an endorsement when you don't is certainly unethical.

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