Parliamentary Procedure

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Parliamentary Procedure: Mastering Motions

Parliamentary procedure is a set of rules that govern how meetings, especially legislative or deliberative assemblies, are conducted. It is based on the principles of order, fairness, and efficiency. The purpose of parliamentary procedure is to ensure that meetings are conducted in a way that allows all members to participate and express their views, and to reach decisions that reflect the will of the group as a whole. Robert’s Rules of Order is generally considered the go-to handbook for parliamentary procedure.

What is a motion?

One of the most well-known parliamentary procedures is the process of making motions. A motion is a proposal made by a member of the group to take a specific action or make a decision. There are several different types of motions, each with its specific purpose and procedure. For example, a main motion is a proposal made to consider a new idea or to take some action. An amendment is a proposal to change a main motion in some way. A point of order is a challenge to how a meeting is being conducted, made by a member who believes that the rules of parliamentary procedure are not being followed.

How does a motion work?

To make a motion, a member must first be recognized by the chair presiding over the meeting. The member then stands and addresses the chair, stating the motion that they wish to make. The chair then states the motion to the group and asks if there are any seconders. A seconder is a member who supports the motion and wants it to be considered by the group.

Once a motion is before the group, members can speak for or against it. The member who made the motion is usually allowed to speak first. They are followed by the seconder and then other members who wish to speak. The chair is responsible for recognizing members who wish to speak and enforcing time limits on speeches. The chair also has the authority to rule on points of order, which are challenges to how the meeting is being conducted.

The Vote

After all members who wish to speak have had an opportunity to do so, the chair puts the motion to a vote. The chair may count votes in several ways. They may ask for a show of hands, a voice vote, or a roll call vote, depending on the situation. A show of hands is a simple count of the number of members who are in favor of the motion versus those who are opposed. In a voice vote members indicate their vote by saying “aye” for in favor or “nay” for opposed. The chair then decides which side is the majority based on the volume of the responses. In a roll call vote each member’s vote is recorded individually, either by calling their name or electronically.

Once a motion has been voted on, the chair announces the result of the vote and takes any necessary action. If the motion is adopted, it becomes the will of the group. If the motion is defeated, it is considered to be rejected and is not acted upon.

Parliamentary procedure can seem complex and intimidating at first, but it is designed to be a fair and orderly way to conduct meetings and make decisions. It is an important tool for ensuring that all members can participate and have their voices heard.

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