Democratic Rules of Order

Democratic Rules of Order

Efficient, democratic decisionmaking

Tips for meetings

Discuss the idea together, informally, before forming a motion.

After a motion is stated, let the mover, aided by the members, modify it before voting. But if more than one member objects, changes require formal amendments.

Never allow an amendment to the amendment. The motion can be defeated and stated again if necessary.

The Chair must never allow a member to interrupt a speaker or personally criticize or ridicule another member.

Summary of the rules

Fairness: Equal rights of members and good order are the underlying principles.

The final authority is the majority of voting members, provided a quorum is present, subject always to any applicable higher law (a law of the land, a constitution, a bylaw, or an existing standing rule).

In formal meetings, the Chair guides impartially without taking part in discussion. In informal meetings, the Chair participates as an equal member.

A motion should be worded affirmatively and must not conflict with any higher law. All motions require a seconder.

The mover’s privilege allows the mover to reword or withdraw the motion provided there is a seconder and not more than one member objects.

Amendments can delete, substitute, or add words to a motion on the floor but must not negate it or change its topic. An amendment can not be amended.

Postpone, refer: A motion can be postponed to an indefinite or a specific future occasion or referred to a committee for further study.

Rescind, reconsider: A previous decision can be rescinded or reconsidered by the members at any appropriate time.

Voting: Common voting methods include voting by ballot, standing, show of hands, show of voting cards and voice. For a motion to pass, a quorum must be present and more than half the votes cast must be affirmative.

Informal Discussion: A motion to informally discuss some topic, if passed, allows members to consider an idea without the formality of a motion.

Good order: Members should discuss only one motion at a time. A member must not take more than a fair share of floor time nor interrupt another member except as allowed with a point of order.

Point of Order: A member who believes that a law or the meeting’s good order is being breached may rise immediately and say “point of order.” The Chair should allow the member to explain and, if necessary, should call for a vote for a decision.