Parliamentary Procedure

1.  What is the proper sequence of steps in having a motion voted on?

A motion has nine possible steps:

Moved - a proposal from the floor.

Seconded - another member feels the proposal is worth discussing.

Stated - by the chair or secretary. Wording is recorded properly and everyone understands the intent of the proposal.

Discussed - every speaker addresses the chair and must speak only to the motion. Usually, each member may speak only once to a motion except the mover who has first and last chance to speak.

Amended - changing the wording of the motion by:?adding or deleting words?replacing with different words.?- each amendment has the same 9 steps as a motion.

Called - after sufficient discussion, either a motion to end debate or a vote is called at the discretion of the chair.

Restated - ensures everyone understands what is

Voted - chair calls each option: "All in favour?", "Opposed?" or "Abstaining?"

Declared - results of the vote are announced by the chair.

2. Can the intent of the main motion be changed by an amendment?

Yes; the main motion may be changed, contrary to the intent of its movers.?Only two criteria govern the use of an amendment:

An amendment may not convert a motion to its direct negative; and

An amendment must be pertinent to the topic in the main motion. E.g., a motion "to purchase a new typewriter for the secretary" may not have "and to pay the expenses of delegates to the annual meeting" added to it. This amendment clearly has no relationship with the secretary's need for new equipment.

 3. How many amendments can be made to a motion?

There are only two kinds of amendments: those pertaining to the proposed motion called "first rank"; and those pertaining to a proposed amendment called "second rank" (amendment to the amendment). Only one amendment of each rank may be on the floor at one time. Any number of amendments may be made to most motions, but no "second rank" amendments may be amended (i.e., an amendment to the amendment to the amendment is not allowed!).

4. How can a meeting start without a quorum?

A quorum is the minimum number of eligible voters that must be present at a meeting to conduct business. This number is designated in the by-laws of the organization and for a board is usually half the voting members plus one. If no quorum is present when the advertised hour of the meeting has been reached, then:

The presiding officer may dismiss the group (after setting a time for future meeting); or the group may agree to proceed informally with the agenda,   awaiting ratification of any decisions at a future meeting; or the group may   discuss any items of interest but make no decisions.

5. How can our constitution be amended?

A good constitution contains provisions for amendment, so the structure and procedures can continually meet the changing needs and purposes of the group.

Usually, a special committee is appointed to review the group's objectives, structure, functions, etc. Copies of its report and recommendations are circulated to all members with the required notice and agenda for the meeting (often the organization's annual meeting). Any amendments proposed during discussion at the meeting require a majority vote for approval, but the motion to amend the constitution needs a two-thirds majority vote for adoption.

6. Who is the presiding officer at meetings?

Often the president is designated in the constitution or by-laws to chair the organization's meetings. In many groups, however, the chair is assigned to the past-president, special moderator, or to a different person each time on a rotating basis. This allows the president to take a lead in debates on policy rather than maintain a position of "supposed" neutrality which is directly contrary to his or her usual role as spokesperson for the group.

7. After considerable debate, we still are not ready to vote on the motion. What can we do?

A motion to postpone the matter until the next meeting may be in order, so that more information can be gathered.

A motion to postpone temporarily (to table) allows a motion to be set aside until later in the meeting, allowing more urgent business to be dealt   with, permitting amendments to be drafted, or allowing time for implications of the motion to be checked. A motion to take from the   table brings it back before the meeting.

The motion may be withdrawn at the request of its mover, but only if no member present objects.

8. What happens when someone yells "Question!" from the floor?

Someone yelling "Question!" from the floor indicates that he or she wants the motion put to a vote. Only if the chair feels that the motion has had reasonable debate and most members are ready to vote, can he or she call the question (i.e., "All those in favour?", etc.).

Another way to close discussion on a motion is for someone to make a motion to call for a vote. This motion must be seconded and requires a two-thirds majority vote in order to proceed with a vote on the motion on the floor.

9. How should a committee report be accepted by an organization?

A motion to "receive" the report means that the organization is not committed to any of the conclusions or recommendations contained in it. (An example of such a report would be the monthly, unaudited treasurer's report.)

A motion to "adopt" the report in whole or in part commits the organization to some or all of the recommendations of the report, and often implies some action to be taken.

10 Sometimes while one motion is being considered, an alternative motion might be the better one. How can it be presented?

The movers request permission from the presiding officer to read out the alternative motion.


The movers of the original motion are asked if they will withdraw their motion, with the unanimous consent of the meeting.

 If the original motion is withdrawn, then the alternative motion is moved.

If the original motion is not withdrawn, then the movers of the alternative motion inform the meeting that their motion will be moved if the original is defeated. They thus urge the members to vote against the original motion.