Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track

My newest book, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track, is now available! My first book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Parliamentary Procedure Fast-Track (2012) has been very popular, and Penguin asked for a new edition of the book updated for the new Robert’s Rule of Order and to include a discussion of  virtual and electronic meetings. Proper meeting procedure is more important than ever—especially in these contentious times. With that in mind, the book also covers dealing with problem members and problem chairs. To better reflect its focus, the book has been renamed Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track: The … Continue reading

How to Avoid Yellow Card Hell

My parliamentary articles tend to be general. Most often, they address broad procedural issues of widespread concern. This one is rather specific, as it addresses a practice most often encountered by state affiliates of the National Education Association (NEA), although some other types of organizations have similar procedures. Different meetings have different methods of recognition, most often due to past practice or convention standing rules. The NEA and its state affiliate meetings have long used recognition cards for those wishing to speak. Unlike voting cards (described in Voting Cards at Conventions & Annual Meetings), recognition cards are different and explained … Continue reading

Is It Time for a Post-Pandemic Bylaws Review?

The following article from Mark Athitakis appeared on May 15, 2022 in Associations Now from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). The full article can be found by clicking here. Is It Time for a Post-Pandemic Bylaws Review? Antiquated bylaws can lock associations into a structure that makes little sense today. One expert explains why now is a good time for a refresh. Among the many things the pandemic has exposed are problems with association bylaws. Meetings were upended and the makeup of membership changed, but an association’s governing documents haven’t always adapted to that new reality. “Some [associations] have … Continue reading

Happy Birthday to the Author of Robert’s Rules of Order

Today (May 2, 2022) is 185 years since the birth of Henry Martyn Robert, the author of the original Robert’s Rules of Order. He was born May 2, 1837, in Robertville, SC, served in the Union Army, and eventually rose to General in the Army Corps of Engineers. Robert’s first edition, published in 1876, was far different than today’s Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition) published by the Robert’s Rules Association. For starters, it was only 176 pages. Robert’s stated intent was to create a “very brief pocket manual, so cheap that every member of a church or … Continue reading

Voting Cards at Conventions & Annual Meetings

Although COVID-19 is (hopefully) waning, there are still concerns about immediately going back to the way things used to be done at annual meetings. For instance, the most common method pre-pandemic of voting during large meetings was by voice. On any matter to be decided, the presiding officer would ask all those in favor to say “AYE,” and those opposed to say “NO.” With continuing concerns about the virus, both leaders and health professionals have questioned whether hundreds or thousands of delegates should all be yelling in a crowded room at the same time, masked or not. There are alternatives … Continue reading

Completely Updated Parliamentary Procedure Website with Resources

For almost thirty years, my parliamentary procedure website has had more articles and resources on meeting procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order than most anywhere else online. In part due to the new Robert’s Rules of Order (released 2020), the site has been completely revamped and updated, with all references now to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition). The updated website includes: Dozens of charts and articles on running effective meetings, all revised to the new Robert’s 12th Edition. Guides/”cheat sheets” to the new Robert’s and other major parliamentary manuals, including The Standard Code. Tips on how smaller … Continue reading

Thoughts on Bylaws: Individual Amendments, Bylaws Revisions, and Best Practices on Amending Bylaws

There are usually three main governing documents that most nonprofit corporations have today—corporate articles, bylaws, and board policy. The corporate articles (or “articles of incorporation” or “corporate charter”) are a legal document filed with the state and should have only statutory requirements, such as name of organization, address, service agent, etc. That said, older articles sometimes have additional provisions, including ones touching on governance, such as who can serve as a director, board size, date of annual meeting, etc. If you are considering bylaws changes, make certain to get a copy of any corporate articles to make certain there are … Continue reading

What Is a President-Elect?

Because bylaws sometimes have a position called “President-Elect,” I am occasionally asked about the precise responsibilities of the office. A question back has to be “What responsibilities do the specific bylaws provide for the office?” That’s because there is no standard list of duties for a President-Elect in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, as there are for other officers. So different presidents-elect in different organizations may have different responsibilities based on the bylaws language creating the position. For organizations that follow Robert’s, a President-Elect position exists only if expressly provided for in the bylaws. The sole function of the … Continue reading

Robert’s Rules of Order vs The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure vs the AIP Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure

A question came up during a recent online discussion of pros and cons between Robert’s Rules of Order and The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure. One comment asked if Robert’s was “archaic and obsolete.” Here’s my answer. There are several major parliamentary manuals, with Robert’s Rules of Order being the best known. Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure are viewed as one and the same by most of the public. Of organizations that have a parliamentary authority in their governing documents, Robert’s is by far the most common choice (some surveys suggest 80%-90%) . State statutes that prescribe a parliamentary authority for some types of … Continue reading

New Appellate Case: Almason v. Southgate on Fairview Condominium Association

In a decision issued today (February 1, 2022), the North Carolina Court of Appeals examined several issues that associations deal with regularly—budget ratification, owner attendance at board meetings, rules governing board meetings, and association records requests. Nothing in the decision is groundbreaking, but the findings of the court may provide comfort that your association practices are proper (or may suggest you need to make some changes). Almason v. Southgate on Fairview Condominium Association, Inc. et al. is an “unpublished opinion,” which means the decision is not controlling legal authority and should not be cited in other cases. However, even unpublished … Continue reading

Voting by Written Ballot and Written Agreement in North Carolina

When it comes to asking homeowners association /  condo members to approve or reject matters in North Carolina, there are generally two options: the written ballot and the written agreement. These documents and legally dictated processes may look very similar, but they are legally distinct. This article examines how and when using the written ballot versus a written agreement makes sense and how to use each effectively. Written Ballot When you think about being asked to vote on something, most people probably first think of a ballot. Ballots, by definition, allow someone to vote for or against something. For in-person meetings, ballots … Continue reading

Nomination Procedures for Elections

If you are administering an election for your group or association, then you may have questions about how the nomination process works. Do you need to use an election committee? What are nominations from the floor? What about other methods of doing nominations? Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. There are six different methods: (1) nominations by the chair, (2) nominations from the floor, (3) nominations by a committee, (4) nominations by ballot, (5) nominations by mail, and (6) nominations by petition.  Nominations by the Chair is when the Chair selects candidate(s) for a position.  Typically, this method is not … Continue reading

There Is No “Meeting by Ballot” Under New NC Law

Our firm’s attorneys have seen several recent association mailings entitled something to the effect of “Meeting by Ballot” or “Annual Meeting by Ballot.” It appears there is a belief among some that the recent adoption of House Bill 320 (“Modernize Remote Business Access”) created a new method of members meeting through a written instrument. It did not. As discussed in the recent post Does New Law Mean Associations Don’t Have to Hold Annual Meetings?, North Carolina has two main methods for association members to make decisions: A membership meeting, which can be held in person or under the new statute … Continue reading

How to Run an Effective Online Meeting

With the passage of HB 320 (see Jim Slaughter’s article:  Bill Adopted to Allow Electronic Membership Meetings and Voting in North Carolina Associations) we are seeing more communities opting to conduct electronic membership meetings to encourage greater participation and community interest in these meetings. Our attorneys collectively—and particularly our two Certified Professional Parliamentarians, Jim Slaughter and Michael Taliercio—have participated in more virtual meetings than anyone, and we find that having good meeting rules in place before the meeting takes place is key to a successful outcome. Although it usually is not necessary to tailor rules for each individual meeting an … Continue reading

NC Governor Signs Bill Allowing Remote Member Meetings

As a follow-up to last week’s Community Association Legislative Update (Bill Adopted to Allow Electronic Membership Meetings and Voting in North Carolina Associations), Governor Roy Cooper signed HB 320 (“Modernize Remote Business Access”) yesterday, September 20. The law takes effect effect immediately. NC homeowner and condominium associations (as well as other nonprofit associations) can now choose to hold virtual member meetings or make decisions without a meeting through written or electronic balloting or electronic voting, so long as certain requirements are met. The new law applies to any member meetings noticed as of today. In addition, remote member meetings noticed and held … Continue reading

Bill Adopted to Allow Electronic Membership Meetings and Voting in North Carolina Associations

NC Community Association Legislative Update – September 15, 2021 Community association (HOA and condo) boards have long been permitted to meet virtually by phone or videoconference, but the ability to hold membership meetings electronically ended with the expiration of the Governor’s Executive Order this spring. Since that time, while members can certainly meet virtually as an informal “town hall” and then vote afterwards by written ballot, it has not been possible to hold virtual membership meetings. And even under the Governor’s prior Executive Order, members could not vote during virtual meetings. That’s all changing with the adoption today of legislation … Continue reading

Law Firm Carolinas: New Shareholder, Partners, Offices and Lawyers

Law Firm Carolinas announces the following changes: Harmony Taylor, who is in the Charlotte office and practices community association (HOA and condo) law and civil litigation, has been named a Shareholder. Three attorneys have been named Partners: Joe Thompson, who practices residential and commercial real estate, and David Wilson, who practices North and South Carolina community association (HOA and condo) law, both from the Charlotte office; and Jon Raymer, who practices commercial and residential real estate, from the Greensboro office. There have also been several recent additions to the firm: Nancy Guyton and Hunt Harris have joined the Wilmington office. … Continue reading

Should HOA or Condo Bylaws Be Recorded?

We were recently asked whether bylaws amendments should be filed with the local Register of Deeds. The answer, like many things community association related, depends. Condo bylaws in North Carolina are almost always filed with the Register of Deeds, but not HOA bylaws. The difference is due to initial bylaws for condos being recorded with the declaration, and then amendments need to show up in the public record. If HOA bylaws are filed (but should not be), amendments also need to be unless a later amendment makes clear (as we have sometimes done for associations) that subsequent amendments will not … Continue reading

What Is a Majority Vote?

Like many things association related, the answer can vary by state and by association. That’s because some state statutes or governing documents define majority differently (“a majority of the entire membership” or “a majority of members present”). But if you’re just talking about “majority,” then under Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition) that is “more than half” (NOT “half plus one” or some other language that can give you the wrong number). When used without qualification, a majority vote means “more than half of the votes cast by persons entitled to vote, excluding blanks or abstentions, at a regular or … Continue reading

(Likely Final) NC Extension of Order Allowing Virtual Membership Meetings

The NC Executive Order allowing electronic membership meetings (Executive Order #198) was set to expire today, Monday, May 10. That Order has now been extended by Executive Order #212 through Tuesday, June 1, 2021. As a result, nonprofit membership meetings may continue to be held virtually so long as certain conditions are met. Such a process is likely needed by some larger associations a bit longer, as a different Executive Order (EO #209) still caps the maximum number of people for indoor gatherings at 100 and for outdoor gatherings at 200 “at the same time in a single confined indoor or outdoor … Continue reading