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 President-Elect provided by Robert’s is that the person automatically becomes President for a full term at the conclusion of the current President’s term. There are pros and cons to such a position (see below). Other than succeeding to the presidency, the office of Vice-President has no duties unless expressly provided in the Bylaws. As a result, if the President is missing from a meeting or vacates the position mid-year,¬†Robert’s¬†provides that the Vice-President (or senior Vice President if several)–and not the President-Elect–presides or completes the President’s term unless the Bylaws give those duties to the President-Elect. Takeaway? It’s best to have clear bylaws language on the President-Elect and Vice President’s duties!

In case it’s of interest, here’s a discussion of the office from my first book,¬†The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Parliamentary Procedure Fast-Track:

President-Elect

A president-elect is an elected officer who becomes president automatically the following term.

Not all organizations have a president-elect, and there are advantages and disadvantages to the position. A positive is that the president-elect can learn from the current president, be given certain duties, and prepare for their upcoming presidency. A negative is that the organization is selecting a president far in advance and has little control if members change their minds.

To keep a president-elect from becoming president would actually require removing the president-elect from office. Also, for organizations where an existing officer ascends through vice president, president-elect, and president, the office can lengthen an already lengthy commitment.