I Object!

An objection to the consideration of a motion can be raised by any member so long as debate hasn’t begun nor has any subsequent motion has been stated.

Last night, new member David rose to ask a question. Not only is this permitted, it’s recommended whenever you aren’t sure of what is happening during a business session.

The business session procedures should always be fully transparent and understandable to all members. If, at any time, you are unsure of what is happening or what you’re being asked to vote on then stand without being recognized saying “I rise on a point of parliamentary inquiry.”

If you’re not sure of what’s happening, it’s very likely you’re not alone. Rising on a point of parliamentary inquiry is a service to your fellow members.

Now back to the objection to consideration.

The mover of the objection does not need to be recognized by the chair and there is no need for a seconder. No debate is allowed and a vote is taken immediately.

The objection to consideration is encouraged when a motion so violates the rules that it shouldn’t be allowed to be debated.

In my opinion the motion to say “woo woo” when the word of the day is heard offends the decorum of the Toastmaster meeting as does the unfortunate practice of banging on the tables when announcing the winners of the evenings table topics, evaluations and speeches.

But what is worse is the motion is much too much like a similar motion to rap on the table whenever the word of the day is used which was defeated two weeks ago. Again beyond my personal preference to act with some decorum, this motion was made by a member who lost the last vote on a similarly worded motion and thus it is clearly out of order and should not be debated.

Now if someone who had voted last time again the motion which was lost can bring forward a similar motion but the losing side as only one crack at the bat and if they lost their motion (which they did) then they don’t get to keep resuscitating it in slightly different forms over and over again.

To the matter of the 2/3’s in the negative vote, this gets very interesting.

It appears we haven’t been doing it right!

When an objection to consideration is raised, it is not treated as a motion which requires a vote! The vote is directed at the main motion (which caused the objection) and the vote must be 2/3 against the main motion.

So when an objection to consideration is voiced, the chair should immediately say:

“There is an objection to consideration of this motion (meaning the main offending motion). Those in favour of considering this motion say “AYE” (Pause). Those opposed to considering this motion say “NAY”.

If it appears that the AYEs have it (These are the people who DO want to discuss the original motion) the chair says:

“The “AYES” have it by more than one-third vote and the motion will be considered. Is there any discussion on the motion that we…(restate original motion).

If it appears that “NAYs” have it by a two-thirds vote and the motion that we (restate motion) will not be considered. Is there any other business.”

While an audio vote is quite legal I’m pretty sure that someone will yell “Division” which is a request for a counted vote. A wise chair will then redo the vote asking the Sgt.-At-Arms to record a formal count as what happened last night.

Despite our voting on the objection rather than the offending main motion the count remains that only six people wanted to discuss the motion to say “woo woo” and 14 said they did not. Abstainers are not counted in the vote but maybe counted if there is a requirement to reach a quorum often needed for such matters as changing a constitutional clause.

So last night we had 14 who essentially said “Nay” to discussing the main motion and six who said “Aye” to discussing the main motion.

The requirement of 2/3 in the negative (not wanting to discuss the main motion) was reached and the motion was removed from the table and was not discussed.

There is another strategy that can be applied here.

After someone stands and moves a motion which so offends the rules that it should not be debated, anyone else can immediately rise (but must be recognized by the chair) to move “To Lay On The Table” the motion before us. Laying on the table can’t be used immediately after an objection to consideration has failed as the assembly has already voted on the issue and the move to lay on the table is not allowed.

Laying on the table (or to table the motion) essentially takes the motion off the table and allows it to die a slow silent death avoiding debate and voting.

So what does this all mean?

Parliamentary procedure as set out in Robert’s Rules of Order are relatively simple instructions for groups who wish to work together to make decisions that affect the members of the assembly.

It allows the voice of the minority to be heard, while the desire of the majority is carried out.

These rules are not intended and nor should they be used to hinder the decision-making process or to seek unfair advantage over other members of the assembly.

Even if you don’t understand Robert’s Rules of Order they still apply to you and serve you as a paid-up member of the club. It is up to your chair of the evening to ensure both fairness of the process and protect your rights as a member.

If you ever find yourself sitting on a school board, a board of directors for a company, non-profit or charitable agency you’ll want a working knowledge of Roberts Rules.

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