Roberts Rules – Myths about Parliamentary Procedure

Roberts Rules – Myths about Parliamentary Procedure


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The myth: The mover of a motion owns it forever.

The truth: The maker of a motion stops owning it once debate on it begins.  From then on, the group owns it, and the mover no longer has the right to unilaterally withdraw or amend the motion.

The myth: A person must support a motion in order to second it.

The truth: Seconding indicates that the person agrees that the motion should be discussed, and not that he or she supports it.

The myth: If a motion is moved and seconded, it is automatically open for debate.

The truth: A motion is open for debate only after the Chair states it and places it before the meeting. The Chair is entitled to refuse to allow a motion on the ground that it is out of order (in violation of a certain rule) or because it is confusing or poorly worded.

The myth: The Chair of a small Board never votes, except to break a tie.

The truth: The Chair of a small Board, if present, votes like other members.

The myth: The Chair of small Board never speaks in debate, unless he or she vacates the Chair.

The truth: This is only true if your Bylaws stipulate it. Robert’s Rules of Order allow the Chair to speak in debate, but on the same basis as everyone else.

The myth: If a member calls the question, debate automatically ends.  Calling the question may interrupt a person who is speaking and gets priority over everything else.

The truth: The decision to close debate is made by the group, collectively, and not unilaterally by the Chair or one member.  If a motion to close debate is made formally, it may not interrupt a person who is speaking and its mover has no special priority in the speakers’ lineup.

The myth: The mover may close debate by speaking on a motion for a second time.

The truth: No (unless your Bylaws say otherwise, which would be poor procedure).

The myth: The minutes must include everything that was said at the meeting.

The truth: Minutes are primarily a record of what was done by the group, not what was said.

The myth: A member may insist that his or her comments be entered in the minutes.

The truth: Minute takers should follow minute taking standards.  They should not be subject to random demands by individual members.

The myth: There can be no debate until there is a motion on the floor.

The truth: An assembly may decide to have informal discussion (exploring the nature of a problem) before introducing a motion (a solution).