5 Blog Posts to Help Remake Your Meetings in 2019No one will blame you if “learn more parliamentary procedure” isn’t on your list of 2019 resolutions. But let’s hope “have more productive meetings” made the cut. If it did, here are five posts that will get you started.

Four Things Most People Get Wrong about Abstentions

To count or not to count the non-voters – this is the question. Find out what to do when members decline to vote.

Four Myths about Robert’s Rules and Quorum – And Why the Truth Matters

Why should you care about how many people attend a meeting? Learn the fine points of quorum and how it affects action-taking for your group.

5 Essential Facts about Closing Debate

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to shorten your meetings, then check out this post on how to properly say, “Let’s stop talking and vote already.”

Easy Fix – Ways to Make an Agenda Work for You

Good news for 2019 – you don’t have to follow the traditional Robert’s Rules order of business if you don’t want to. Read this post for ways to customize an agenda to the needs of your group.

Shhh, It’s a Secret – What No One Tells You about Executive Session

Want to have a closed-door meeting? Here’s the low-down on what you can and can’t do in executive session.

For the sake of voters everywhere, I’d like to sing the praises of tellers: Being a good teller is plain old hard work, requiring the perfect mix of caution and confidence. Where and how does a teller assure voters of her diligence? In a tellers report.

A Tellers Report Should Never Omit the Essentials

3 Facts You Must Know about a Tellers ReportLet’s be clear about one thing: A tellers report should not be a few numbers scribbled on the back of a Target receipt you just found at the bottom of your purse. A tellers report gives the voting membership confidence that all of the votes cast were both counted and properly accounted for.

With this in mind, a tellers report should include the following categories of information for each vote taken:

A Tellers Report Should Never Include Extra Information

A tellers report should be complete and informative, yes. (See my last point.) But there’s no need to get verbose. Specifically, there’s no need to include the number of members eligible to vote or the number of members abstaining.

Unless your governing documents say that a certain vote or election needs a majority of the entire membership to pass, the number of members eligible to vote is irrelevant. You’re only interested in the number of members that actually voted.

And the number of abstentions are in the generally irrelevant category, too.

A Tellers Report Should Always Appear in the Minutes

The tellers report is part of the official business transacted at a meeting. That means that it becomes part of the official record of the meeting – the minutes.

Just so we’re on the same page, when I say that the tellers report should go in the minutes, I mean all of the report. Not just one line about who won the election or which proposal was adopted. All. Of. It. Number of votes cast, number of votes necessary to win, number of votes received by each candidate or position, and number of illegal votes. The whole thing.

Maybe you’re thinking, TMI? Or maybe you’re feeling sorry for the people who lost and you’re thinking, why do we need to make a permanent record for all time of that sad event? Yeah, this isn’t the time for those thoughts.

Complete info – full record – the whole shebang – this is a good thing in teller reports. Recounts and re-dos are real when it comes to ballot votes, and you need a solid record of how you arrived at the winner the first time.

If you’re a teller, do it right. Create voter confidence by counting ballots confidently yourself. Then, draft a record that’s got all the right info and none of the superfluous stuff. It’s a win-win in every respect – for you, the victor, the voters, and yes, even an unsuccessful candidate.

Everything You Need to Know About Counting Ballot VotesIf you’ve ever volunteered been hand-selected to be a teller at an annual meeting or convention, you know there’s that brief moment of panic when you hope you know what you’re doing and hope you haven’t just screwed up an election or other important vote.

Keeping that panic moment brief means knowing the basics about how to count ballot votes.  Here’s a guide.

Start by Determining the Total Number of Votes Cast

Determining the total number of votes cast is important because that number becomes your baseline for calculating the number of votes needed for a majority.

The following count as “votes cast”:

  • ballots indicating a choice for an eligible candidate or option
  • illegal ballots

The following do not count as “votes cast”:

  • blank ballots
  • ballots that don’t indicate a preference
  • ballots cast by persons not entitled to vote

Calculate the Number Needed for a Majority

Once your teller team knows the total number of votes cast, divide that number in half to determine the number needed for a majority. A majority is more than half.

One special note: On a ballot where several offices are listed – e.g., president, vice president, treasurer, secretary – you need to calculate the votes cast and number needed for a majority for each office. A multi-office ballot isn’t a one-size-fits-all operation where you just count the total number of ballots and call it a day.

The reason for the separate calculations? Some members may have voted for some, but not all, of the offices. And a ballot that includes a vote for president and vice president, but for no other offices, is counted in the number of votes cast for those two offices, but is counted as blank (i.e., an abstention) for the others. And on the flip side, a ballot that’s illegal as to one selection isn’t illegal as to all.

Determine if a Questionable Vote Affects the Result

Questionable votes are votes that are semi-intelligible, but not entirely clear. In other words, they can’t be put in the “I-have-absolutely-no-idea-who-or-what-this-person-was-trying-to-vote-for” illegal vote category. But they also can’t be placed clearly in the stack for one candidate or choice.

Say, for example, both Bonnie Smith and Bobbie Smith are members of your organization. It is entirely feasible that someone could vote for one of these individuals as a write-in but not write the name legibly enough for tellers to determine which person is being voted for.

Or, maybe you have Mr. Can’t-Make-Up-His-Mind in your group. His ballot is the one that has an X next to all three people running for president, but then some of the Xs are scribbled through . . . sort of . . . and you’re just not sure who he really meant to vote for in the end.

When it comes to questionable ballots like these, you need to determine whether the vote would affect the result.

  • If you were stake-your-life-on-it sure that the ballot said “Bobbie Smith,” would Bobbie Smith win or lose? If the vote doesn’t make a difference as to the election or vote outcome, stick the vote in the illegal vote stack.
  • If it could make a difference, parliamentary procedure states that you are to immediately take the issue to the assembly and ask them to decide whether that beautiful cursive says “Bobbie” or “Bonnie.”

Strap on your decisiveness hat. Get ready to total carefully. And count ‘em up.