Parliamentary Procedure: Commonly Used Terms

All those in favor...

If you have ever attended one of our District Council, or Executive meetings you may have heard certain words that are not commonly used in day-to-day conversations. Some of these words are defined in the Robert's Rules of Order, with the intention of helping meeting participants stay on track, among other things.

Parliamentary Procedure: Commonly Used Terms

Robert's Rules of Order was written by General Henry M. Robert, a U.S. Army engineer, and published in 1876. His work is still regarded as the basic authority on the subject of parliamentary law. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, 11th edition,

The application of parliamentary law is the best method yet devised to enable assemblies of any size, with due regard for every member’s opinion, to arrive at the general will on the maximum number of questions of varying complexity in a minimum amount of time and under all kinds of internal climate ranging from total harmony to hardened or impassioned division of opinion.
Retrieved from Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition, p. liii

This article lists terms commonly associated with parliamentary procedure:

Ad Hoc Committee: Committee established for a specific purpose, for a particular case.

Announcing the Vote: In announcing the vote on a motion, the chair should:

  • Report on the voting itself, stating which side has prevailed;
  • Declare that the motion is adopted or lost; and
  • State the effect of the vote or order its execution.

Carried: Passed or adopted; used in referring to affirmative action on a motion.

Division of the Question: A motion to divide a pending motion into two or more separate questions in order that they may be considered separately.

Election by Acclamation: Election by unanimous consent; used when only one person has been nominated for an office.

Expunge: To eliminate part of a motion by crossing out or drawing a line around words; one never erases, since the original text may be needed for the minutes.

Have the Floor: Be recognized by the chair to speak.

Main Motion: A motion which brings before the assembly some new subject upon which action of the assembly is desired.

Majority: More than half of the votes cast by persons legally entitled to vote, excluding abstentions.

Motion: A proposal by a member, in a meeting, that the assembly take a particular action.

Proxy: A person authorized to vote for another.

Quorum: The minimum number of members who must be present at a meeting for business to be legally transacted.

Rescind: To repeal, annul, cancel, or revoke formally.

Resolution: Motion to express sentiment of a group, beginning with words "Be it resolved that...."

Unanimous (or General) Consent: A means of taking action on a motion without a formal vote. When a presiding officer perceives that there is little or no opposition to a motion before the assembly, business can often be expedited by the chair's simply calling for objections, if any. If no objection is heard, the motion is adopted; if even one member objects, the motion is brought to a formal vote by the usual procedure.

Voice Vote: A vote taken by having members call out "aye" or "no" at the chair's direction.

Yield: To give the floor to the chair, to another speaker, or to a motion taking precedence over that being considered.

Maryann Reichelt, DTM
District 54 Parliamentarian, 2015-2016

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