Some helpful tips on the proper use of Parliamentary Procedure


The motion to RECONSIDER allows a motion that was previously completed to be brought back for further consideration. It is, technically, a motion to reconsider the vote that was taken on a particular motion.

There is a time limit to what can be reconsidered. The motion to reconsider must be made on the same day the motion to be reconsidered was voted on; or at the next meeting if that next meeting is part of the same series of meetings, such as in a convention of several days. There is also a restriction whereby if action has been taken on a motion, and that action cannot be undone, reconsideration is not allowed.

The motion to reconsider is a high priority motion, and can be made at anytime no one is speaking. However, the making of the motion is more important than the actual reconsideration. That is, if the motion to reconsider is made and seconded while another matter is pending, the Chair does not place the motion to reconsider on the floor, but rather has the Secretary note that the motion to reconsider has been made and seconded. Then when it is appropriate to do so, the Chair returns to the motion to reconsider. Thus the actual reconsideration may take place at a different meeting that the one in which the motion to reconsider was made.

Reconsider must be moved by some who voted on the prevailing side of the vote. That is, if the motion to be reconsidered passed, the reconsideration must be moved by someone who voted yes; if the motion to be reconsidered failed, then the reconsideration must be made by someone who voted no. It must be seconded, and requires a majority vote to start reconsideration. The motion being reconsidered still must pass by its own requirements of majority or 2/3.


There are 3 ways to adjourn a meeting.

1. By Motion: A member makes a motion to adjourn, it must be seconded, it is not debatable or amendable and requires a majority vote. This motion can be made at any time during a meeting.

2. If there is a scheduled time to adjourn: The chair announces “The time for adjournment has been reached, (pause for someone to make a motion to continue or set an adjourned meeting), we are adjourned”

3. If there is no more business to conduct: The chair says “there being no more business for this assembly to conduct, if there is no objection, we will adjourn” Wait a moment for someone to object. If not objection is raised, the chair says “We are adjourned”

Note that 2 and 3 require no motion to be made and no vote to be taken.

After a motion to adjourn has been made, a few other motions or actions are still in order before the actual adjournment. A motion to set an adjourned meeting, Giving notice of motion to be made at the next meeting, Making (but not acting on) a motion to reconsider an action taken at this meeting, Announcements, or to inform the assembly that there is a matter that needs to be taken up before adjournment.

Committee Recommendations

A recommendation from a committee of more than two people does not need a motion or a second to be considered by the assembly or board.

The Chair of the Committee (or whom ever is presenting the report) states the recommendation and the Chair (of the meeting) proceeds directly to debate on the recommendation. The reason no motion is necessary is that the committee was instructed by the assembly to make these recommendations; therefore, the motion and second occurred when the committee was given the assignment. The Chair (of the meeting) says ‘ The matter before you is the committee recommendation to (state the recommendation), is there any debate?’

If the committee is a committee of one, no motion is necessary, but a second is necessary.

Recommendation from a committee should be taken up, debated and voted on when the committee report is given, they should not be held until new business. By the reasons stated above — these items are not new business. If it is desired to delay the consideration of the recommendations, the entire report should be delayed, not just the recommendations.


Debate is the heart of any decision-making process. But uncontrolled debate is useless, in fact, counterproductive. The basis of Roberts Rules is to create an orderly system of debate and action. Therefore there are specific rules governing debate.

Only one person may speak at a time.
This is done by the person(s) who wish to speak rising (or raising hands) and being recognized (called on) by the Chairman.

Time is limited.
Unless your own rules stat otherwise any person may only speak twice, for ten minutes each time, on any motion, on the same day. If a motion is carried over to a different meeting or day, the persons right to speak starts over. Please note: the Filibuster is unique to the U.S. Congress, and is not allowed anywhere else. And, unless you have a specific rule to allow it, a speaker cannot yield time to another person.

One person cannot dominate the debate.
Each person may only speak once until everyone who wishes to speak has done so, then someone may speak a second time. In order to speak a third time on the same matter, the speaker must have permission of the entire assembly.  (Majority vote allows a third speech.)

The rules of debate require a 2/3 vote to change.
Because changing the rules alters the rights of members, a 2/3 vote is required to change the rules of debate, or to adopt special rules of debate if you have none currently.

Speakers must stick to the topic.
All remarks must be germane; that is, pertain to the question at hand. If you are debating an amendment, the debate is limited to the amendment, and debate on the original motion is not in order; likewise, if a motion has been made to refer the matter to a committee, the debate is limited to the merits of the referral, and debate on the motion itself is out of order.

Speakers must be polite.
Speakers should not attack the motives of other speakers, or question their integrity. Neither should speakers yell, use foul language, or make remarks that are personal in nature about another person or speaker. The debate is on the merits of the motion, not the other members.


It is not necessary to have a motion to approve the minutes.

This is one of the situations where the Chair can ‘assume’ the motion, as the only motion that can be made is to approve the minutes. The chair simply says ‘The next business in order is the approval of the minutes of (date), are there any corrections?’ ‘Corrections’ is the proper term, as deletions or additions are actually corrections.

If there are none, the chair says ‘Hearing none, the minutes of (date) are approved as presented.’

If there are corrections, after all the corrections have been made, the Chair says ‘The minutes of (date) are approved as corrected.’ The Chair then proceeds immediately to the next order of business.


There are two motions to postpone, Postpone Indefinitely and Postpone Definitely. They have very different uses.

Postpone Indefinitely is a motion used to kill a motion without actually voting on it. If a motion is Postponed Indefinitely, it cannot be brought up again in the same session, except by the motion to reconsider. The motion to Postpone Indefinitely requires a second and a majority vote and it is not debatable. If the motion is made and seconded, the chair puts it immediately to vote.

Postpone Definitely allows a motion to be postponed until a specific time or when a specific condition has been met. You can postpone until the next meeting, or a specific time in this or the next meeting, or until a certain person arrives, or specific information is obtained, etc. This motion requires a second and a majority vote and is amendable as the time or condition to be met. There is a time limit on the postponement. Normally, postponement cannot be longer than until the next meeting, if that meeting will take place within three months. If the interval between meetings is longer than three months, postponement is not allowed.


The motion to LAY ON THE TABLE is the single most misunderstood and misused motion.

The purpose of Lay on the Table is to temporarily set aside a matter to take up some other matter, and then return to the tabled matter later the same session. The term comes for the practice of literally laying the papers on a corner of the table, to be taken up later. Using Lay On The Table to kill a motion is NOT the proper use of the motion and can be ruled out of order by the Chair. Lay on the Table cannot be used to hold a matter over until a future meeting.

Lay on the Table also has time limits. If the meeting is a regular monthly meeting, a matter that has been tabled dies at the end of the meeting if it has not been taken off the table. If the desire is to hold a matter over to the next regular meeting (as in next months regular Board meeting), the proper motion is to Postpone until the next meeting. If the meeting is one in a series of meeting, closely spaced, as in a convention, then the matter that was Tabled may be held unitl the next meeting in the series, and if not takem up then, it dies.

Treasurer’s Report

It is not necessary, or in fact even proper, to approve a monthly treasure’s report.

The monthly treasurer’s report is simple a statement of current circumstances, and no action is necessary or proper. As with any report that does not recommend a specific action, no approval or other action by the assembly is necessary. In the case of the treasurer’s report, there is a further reason that it should not be approved, the members of the assembly have not looked at the account books and cannot verify the accuracy of the report. Therefore they cannot approve it. The only financial report that is approved is a yearly auditor’s report.

When it is time for the treasurer’s report, the Chair ask the treasurer to give the report, the treasurer gives the report and the treasurer, or more properly the Chair, asks if there are any questions. After the questions have been answered, the Chair thanks the treasurer and proceeds to the next order of business.


Voting is a tricky business. It is the end result of the deliberative process, and the most important part of that process.

There are five basic types of votes: General Consent, Voice, Rising, Counted, and Ballot.

For matters of routine business, a vote can be taken by General Consent. The Chair says ‘If there are no objections, (pause) the motion is approved.’ While this can be used on routine matters, a vote should be taken on any matter of substance or that commits the organization to expenditure of funds, a specific course of action, takes a political position, or in all elections. This should be done even if there appears to be consensus among the group. Over use of General Consent makes people feel dis-enfranchised and can appear to ‘railroad’ matters, where taking votes empowers people and encourages participation, even where the vote is unanimous.

A Voice vote is the most common type of voting in most organizations, The Chair states the motion and says ‘All those in favor say Aye’ and then ‘All those in favor say No.’ The Chair then announces which side won.

A Rising vote is normally done in larger bodies of people when a more definitive method is needed. Instead of saying Aye or No, the voters rise (or raise hands, or voting cards). This may give the Chair a better idea of the vote than a simple voice vote.

A Counted vote is done in a similar manner to a rising vote, except that the votes are actually counted. Counting can be done by Tellers (persons specifically assigned to count votes) or by the voters counting off in order. This gives a very definitive result to the voting process, but can also be time consuming. Note: A Roll Call vote is a variant of the counted vote. In this case the secretary calls the roll of voters, and each one says Aye, No or Abstain, and the answer is recorded in the minutes. This is done when it is desired to have a record of who voted in the minutes, or where there are non-voting persons in the room and it is desired to be sure no one votes who is not entitled to.

A Ballot vote is a vote where each voter writes there vote on a pieced of paper. This is also a secret vote, where no one knows how anyone voted. Again, gives a very definitive answer to the vote.

The practice of the Chairman no voting is more tradition than rule. The Chairman is supposed to show an outward sense of neutrality when presiding. Voting shows that the Chair is not neutral. So, in order to preserve the appearance of neutrality, the Chairman does not vote, except when there vote makes a difference or is secret as in a ballot vote.

In a voice vote, the Chair would not vote, as a difference of one vote is likely to close to call anyway. In a Rising vote, the situation is the same. In a counted vote, the Chair may vote if it will make a difference, but the chair votes last, so they can determine if their vote makes a difference, and so the Chair’s vote does not have undue influence on the rest of the vote. (This is true for a roll call vote as well, the Chair’s name is called last). In a ballot vote, the vote is secrete therefore there is no reason for the Chair not to vote.

Most vote are a majority vote. A majority is more than half, not 50% plus one. If there are 10 votes cast, half would be five, so a majority is six (more than half.) If there are 11 votes cast, half would be 5.5, so a majority would still be six (more than half.) In a 2/3 vote, if 10 votes are cast, 2/3 is 7.5,  so eight votes are needed to pass the motion. One must be careful in calculating a 2/3 vote, particularly with large numbers. An easy way is to double the negative vote, if the result is more than the positive vote, then 2/3 was not reached and the motion fails.

Note also that in a 2/3 vote, an abstention, although not a vote and not counted, has the effect of a vote for the prevailing side. If there are 100 people eligible to vote, and they all vote on a 2/3 matter, it takes 67 (actually 66 2/3- therefore 67) to pass the measure. If 25 abstain so that only 75 votes are cast, it only takes 50 to pass the measure. Therefore the abstentions have the effect of voting on the prevailing side by reducing the numbers necessary for passage or defeat.

YouTube Videos (With Susan Leahy of Roberts Rules Made Simple)
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