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Basic Rules


1.  THE RIGHTS OF THE ORGANIZATION SUPERSEDE THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS - The organization has the right to make its own rules which then must be observed by all members.  Should a conflict arise between the rights of a member and the right of the organization to do its business, the rights of the organization prevail.


2.  ALL MEMBERS ARE EQUAL AND THEIR RIGHTS ARE EQUAL - Those rights are:


--to attend meetings;


--to make motions and speak in debate;


--to nominate;


--to vote; 


--to hold office. 


3.  A QUORUM MUST BE PRESENT TO DO BUSINESS - A quorum is the number of members who must be present to legally transact business.  The number is usually stated in the bylaws.  In a committee or a small board, the quorum is the majority of its members.  The purpose of a quorum is to prevent an unrepresentative group from taking action in the name of the organization. 


4.  THE MAJORITY RULES - This rule is basic to the democratic process.  The minority has the right to be heard, but once a decision has been reached by a majority of the members present and voting, the minority must then respect and abide by the decision.


5.  SILENCE IS CONSENT - Those members who do not vote agree to go along with the decision of the majority by their silence. 


6.  TWO-THIRDS VOTE RULE - A two-thirds vote is necessary whenever you are limiting or taking away the rights of members or whenever you are changing something that has already been decided. 


7.  ONE QUESTION AT A TIME AND ONE SPEAKER AT A TIME - No motion is in order which does not directly relate to the question under consideration.  In addition, once a member has been recognized, he has been granted "the floor" and another member may not interrupt him.


8.  DEBATABLE MOTIONS MUST RECEIVE FULL DEBATE - The presiding officer may not put a debatable motion to vote as long as members wish to debate it.  Debate can only be suspended by a two-thirds vote of the members present. 


9.  ONCE A QUESTION IS DECIDED, IT IS NOT IN ORDER TO BRING UP THE SAME MOTION OR ONE ESSENTIALLY LIKE IT AT THE SAME MEETING - Such motions should be ruled out of order.  (Note: There is a special class of motions which do bring a motion back to the group, called restorative motions).


10.  PERSONAL REMARKS IN DEBATE ARE ALWAYS OUT OF ORDER - The presiding officer must rule all personal remarks out of order.


Debate must be directed to motions and not motives; principles and not personalities.


***Note: This excerpt is from, "ROBERT'S RULES IN PLAIN ENGLISH"  Copyright 1997, DORIS P. ZIMMERMAN,  Professional Registered Parliamentarian