When it comes to numbers, terms such as majority and minority are pretty well understood. Merriam Webster defines majority as “a number or percentage equaling more than half of a total” and minority as “the smaller in number of two groups constituting a whole” and goes on to qualify that by describing it as “a group having less than the number of votes necessary for control.”
Do we have a quorum?
Anyone who’s ever attended a formal meeting where a binding vote is to be taken – from a town meeting or a board meeting to a session of the U.S. Senate or the British House of Lords – has heard that question. But what does it mean? What is a quorum? We have to know the answer to that question before we can determine whether we have a quorum.
You know your local school board is out there. But do you know what that school board is doing? Do you know how school board members are voting? What issues they are debating? Many local residents do not – despite the fact that your school board is making decisions that affect the character and quality of education at every public school near you.
Does it surprise you to learn that more than 570 sovereign nations exist within the borders of the United States? More than 220 exist in Alaska alone. What many people don’t fully realize when they hear names like “Navaho Nation” or “Cherokee Nation” – is that these really are nations unto themselves. They have their own constitutions in many cases; they have their own leaders; they hold elections and their citizens and councils vote on matters that affect the well-being of their nations.
Basic knowledge of the parliamentary procedure can fall short in situations where the rules aren’t clear-cut, require special consideration, or just aren’t ingrained in the heads of board or committee members like multiplication tables or the ingredients for a good martini.
As the United States went through the 2018 midterms elections on Nov. 6, officials and voters were once again voicing concerned about the security and reliability of the nation’s voting systems.
When most people think of voting, the determining tally most of us think of is a simple majority. That is, whoever receives one more vote than half the number of voters is the winner.
When voting is mentioned in the United States, it’s a fair assumption that most people take that to mean that one person equals a single vote. After all, it’s the foundation of our system of democracy, right? Well, sort of.
In a political system that prides itself on the privacy of the vote, such as ours in the United States, it might seem unethical to assign your vote to another person because you can’t be present to cast it yourself. However, when the U.S. was little more than a collection of colonies with sparsely populated settlements, this process was tolerated – and sometimes encouraged – purely out of necessity.
When it comes to voting and accuracy, smaller associations and governing bodies have a decided advantage. Whether voting by voice, ballot or show of hands, it’s unlikely that anyone’s vote will get overlooked or improperly counted.
The nominating process for political office is, in many places, mired in traditions that don’t lend themselves to efficient and accurate voting.
As we gradually learn more and more about the extent to which foreign governments might have tampered with the 2016 election in the United States, governments and organizations that depend on voting are understandably concerned about how they’ll be affected by ongoing security issues.
Because the American system of government is one that relies on democratic principles, the system of governing by majority rule has naturally carried over into the non-governmental realm of our boards and associations.
One of the signs of a civilized society is the establishment of governing bodies to set and enforce rules for communities.
A modern version of this is the neighborhood homeowners’ association, which has emerged from the suburban expansion of housing developments and condominiums during the late 20th century.
There’s a reason fraternities and sororities refer to the first few weeks of college as “rush.” For those hoping to join a Greek organization at their school, it’s a fun but also hectic, stressful time.