4 Things Most People Don’t Know About NominationsIf you make a list of problem-causing parliamentary procedure events, nominations and elections will be near the top. For some reason, groups tend to wait until an election is contested or has “gone wrong” and then check to see what Robert’s Rules says.

Here’s a tip – if your group has elections coming up, pull out your bylaws and see what they say about the nomination and election process. Then get out Robert’s Rules (or peruse the nomination and election posts on this blog) and educate yourself a bit. Odds are, you’ll learn a few tidbits that will make the process smoother. Here are a few to get you started.

1. Nominations don’t need a second.

That’s right. Almost everything in parliamentary procedure land needs a second, and here’s why. But nominations don’t. That’s because every member has a right to make a nomination (unless the bylaws limit it, of course). And because every member has a right to make a nomination, we don’t need another member to legitimize it with a second.

I’m guessing your mind is thinking of organizations where you’ve heard a “seconding speech” after a nomination is made. Often this happens so that two people (the nominator and the “seconder”) can speak to the qualifications of a candidate. There’s nothing objectively wrong with this practice, of course. Just know that Robert’s Rules doesn’t require it.

2. You must always take nominations from the floor.

Robert’s Rules says that you must always ask for nominations from the floor unless your bylaws explicitly say that you don’t. You might have a nominating committee. That’s great. But unless your bylaws say something like “no nominations from the floor,” you have to take the committee’s report and then give everyone else an opportunity to add to it via nominations from the floor. And, if you’re voting by ballot, you need to include a place where members can write-in whomever they’d like. It’s Robert’s Rules way of protecting democracy and giving everyone their say about who is elected. If this bothers you, just make sure your bylaws or special rules clearly say that nominations from the floor aren’t allowed.

3. If only one person is nominated, you can elect them by acclamation.

To elect by acclamation means to elect with a loud expression of approval – like clapping. Unless your bylaws say that you have to use a ballot, you can elect by acclamation when only one person is nominated for an office. It’s a huge timesaver for organizations that have an uncontested slate.

4. Nominating committee members can also be nominated themselves.

I’ve learned that nominating committee members feel a strange necessity to project humility when nominations and elections roll around. They back away from being a nominee if they’re on the nominating committee, and they’re afraid to vote for themselves if they’re a candidate. Neither of these approaches is necessary or proper. Prohibiting nominating committee members from running for office themselves is an unnecessary penalty for being on the committee and could be used strategically to disqualify certain qualified members from potential candidacy. If you’re a qualified and willing candidate, you should seriously consider running. Don’t let a stint on the nominating committee prevent you.

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Photo of Sarah E. Merkle Sarah E. Merkle

Sarah E. Merkle is a professional and a driven achiever, but a helpful one. Her legal work dovetails neatly with her unique avocation—sharing parliamentary procedure with those who need help navigating the sometimes crazy world of organizational governance and meetings. She’s one of…

Sarah E. Merkle is a professional and a driven achiever, but a helpful one. Her legal work dovetails neatly with her unique avocation—sharing parliamentary procedure with those who need help navigating the sometimes crazy world of organizational governance and meetings. She’s one of only five lawyers in the world to have earned the two highest parliamentarian certifications. For nearly 15 years she has used her expertise to help local, regional, and national clients make decisions that honor the law but efficiently move business forward without disruption. It’s more than taking minutes or understanding the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order—Sarah demonstrates that parliamentary procedure can be a helpful tool, and as a former educator, she knows how to make the tricky parts understandable.