Parliamentary Procedure


(This page is under construction)

Background: Henry Robert had compiled a set of rules known as "manual of Rules of Order"  in 1876 which has been expanded through numeric editions into the current Robert's Rules of Order newly Revised, 10th edition. OSA conducts its business following the guidelines of this book.

Part 1: Introduction, Terminology and Main Motion

Part 2: Subsidiary Motions

Part 3: Handling Privileged Motions

Part 4: Incidental Motions

Part 5: Additional Motions and Special Problems


Parliamentary Procedure: Part 1


What is Parliamentary Procedure?

Basic definitions

Handling a Main Motion


What is Parliamentary Procedure?

Parliamentary procedure, or parliamentary law, is the code of rules and ethics for working together in groups. According to Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure, parliamentary law refers to the

rules, laws, or regulations of organizations, governing the orderly, expeditious and efficient transaction of business and meetings and conventions. Without rules, there would be injustice and confusion. Hence, it is as necessary to follow the rules of parliamentary law as it is to follow the rules of a ball game or a card game.

Parliamentary rules are based on the following principles:


Basic Definitions

Quorum:  A quorum is a majority of the members and the minimum number of members necessary to transact legal business at a meeting. Beyond that, it gets complicated.  

Constitution: The constitution contains the basic regulations governing the organization.

Bylaws: The bylaws contain provisions for their amendment, but usually bylaws are amended infrequently and only after considerable deliberation.

Standing Rules: Standing rules are generally are about the administration of the organization rather than about parliamentary procedure. Standing rules can be changed by majority vote of members.

Main Motions:  The purpose of a main motion is to introduce items to the membership for their consideration. They cannot be made when any other motion is on the floor, and yield to privileged, subsidiary, and incidental motions.

Main motions should cover the what, when, who, and dollar value of the proposal, if money is involved.

Presiding Officer: The member who conducts the meeting and sees that the rules are observed is called the presiding officer. Usually an elected president, vice president, or chairperson carries out the obligations of the presiding officer.


Handling a Main Motion

There are 6 steps involved in handling a main motion:


Step 1: A member is recognized and makes the motion

  Obtaining the floor

  1. Wait until the last speaker has finished.
  2. Rise and address the Chairman by saying, "Mr. Chairman, or Mr. President."
  3. Wait until the Chairman recognizes you.

 Making Your Motion

  1. Speak in a clear and concise manner.
  2. Always state a motion affirmatively. Say, "I move that we ..." rather than, "I move that we do not ...".
  3. Avoid personalities and stay on your subject.

Step 2: Another member without recognition seconds the motion

Another member who wants the motion to be considered then seconds the motion by saying: “I second the motion.” The member does not need to be recognized. If no one seconds, your motion is lost.


Step 3: The chair formally places the motion before the group by restating the motion

  1. The Chairman will say, "it has been moved and seconded that we ..." Thus placing your motion before the membership for consideration and action.
  2. The membership then either debates your motion, or may move directly to a vote.
  3. Once your motion is presented to the membership by the chairman it becomes "assembly property", and cannot be changed by you without the consent of the members.

Step 4: The members debate the motion, alternating between pros and con

  1. The time for you to speak in favor of your motion is at this point in time, rather than at the time you present it.
  2. The mover is always allowed to speak first.
  3. All comments and debate must be directed to the chairman.
  4. Keep to the time limit for speaking that has been established.
  5. The mover may speak again only after other speakers are finished, unless called upon by the Chairman.

Step 5: The chair asks if the assembly is ready to vote. The chair then puts the motion to a vote

  1. The Chairman asks, "Are you ready to vote on the question?"
  2. If there is no more discussion, a vote is taken.
  3. On a motion to move the previous question may be adapted.

Step 6: Immediately after taking the vote, the presiding officer should announce the results, always indicating the number in favor and the number opposed if the vote was counted.


Voting on a Motion:

The method of vote on any motion depends on the situation and the by-laws of policy of your organization. There are five methods used to vote by most organizations, they are:

  1. By Voice -- The Chairman asks those in favor to say, "aye", those opposed to say "no". Any member may move for a exact count.
  2. By Roll Call -- Each member answers "yes" or "no" as his name is called. This method is used when a record of each person's vote is required.
  3. By General Consent -- When a motion is not likely to be opposed, the Chairman says, "if there is no objection ..." The membership shows agreement by their silence, however if one member says, "I object," the item must be put to a vote.
  4. By Division -- This is a slight verification of a voice vote. It does not require a count unless the chairman so desires. Members raise their hands or stand.
  5. By Ballot -- Members write their vote on a slip of paper, this method is used when secrecy is desired.