Casting votes – a tricky issue

Lee has written the following question:

What happens when the ‘status quo’ is ambiguous? In this example half of a committee thinks a committee member is not eligible (to attend) while half think they are.

This is an interesting question. The issue is about what constitutes the status quo and the reason that is important is that it is always wise, when exercising a casting vote, to rule to preserve the status quo.

In this case, I would consider, if I were in the chair, that the status quo would be to not allow the person to participate. My reasoning (which I am certain some people will disagree with) is that it is far easier to add a person later than to ask them to leave.

The real issue here though, which I cannot answer for you, is where are the rules or bylaws that determine if the person is or is not eligible to attend? That is where the answer should be found and then a casting vote is not necessary.

Now let’s add the second part of Lee’s question:

This was in the case of a ambiguous resignation statement that was later rescinded by that member.

This is clearly a tricky “people issue”. A person has resigned and then later tries to withdraw their resignation. (The can’t rescind their resignation – they can only withdraw it).

This is more clear cut than it may appear. I’ll explain it in a timeline.

1. The person resigns.

2. Their resignation is received by the organisation.

3. They then withdraw their resignation.

4. The next meeting of the group from which they have resigned (in this case a committee) needs to decide whether they will accept the withdrawal and effectively have the person back. It is a straight motion before the meeting – “That the request to withdraw the resignation of Mr xzy, be granted”. (The person in question should NOT be in attendance while this is discussed.)

5. The result of that motion will determine if the person’s withdrawal is accepted or not.

6. If THAT vote is tied, and the chair wishes to exercise a casting vote to preserve the status quo, it is quite clearly to vote against the motion and not accept the withdrawal. The reason is that at the time of the motion being moved – the resignation was in place – that is the status quo in this instance.

Bottom line: Once a resignation has been received, the person giving their resignation cannot change their mind – it is up to the group to decide.

Please Note: The author accepts no responsibility for anything which occurs directly or indirectly as a result of using any of the suggestions or procedures detailed in this blog. All suggestions and procedures are provided in good faith as general guidelines only and should be used in conjunction with relevant legislation, constitutions, rules, laws, by-laws, and with reasonable judgement.


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