Robert’s Rules of Order Revised > Subject Index > Page 261

Henry M. Robert (1837–1923).  Robert’s Rules of Order Revised.  1915.

Page 261

that a two-thirds vote shall have the power to suspend these rules and rights. This gives the right to act for the society to about one-fourth of its members in ordinary cases, and to about one-third of its members in case of suspending the rules and certain rights. But it has been found impracticable to accomplish the work of most voluntary societies if no business can be transacted unless a majority of the members is present. In large organizations, meeting weekly or monthly for one or two hours, it is the exception when a majority of the members is present at a meeting, and therefore it has been found necessary to require the presence of only a small percentage of the members to enable the assembly to act for the organization, or, in other words, to establish a small quorum. In legislative bodies in this country, which are composed of members paid for their services, it is determined by the constitutions to be a majority of their members. Congress in 1861 decided this to be a majority of the members chosen. In the English House of Commons it is 40 out of nearly 700, being about 6% of the members, while in the House of Lords the quorum is 3, or about one-half of 1% of the members. Where the quorum is so small it has been found necessary to require notice of all bills, amendments, etc., to be given in advance; and even in Congress, with its large quorum, one day’s notice has to be given of any motion to rescind or change any rule or standing order. This principle is a sound one, particularly with societies meeting monthly or weekly for one or two hours, and with small quorums, where frequently the assembly is no adequate representation of the society. The difficulty in such cases may be met in societies adopting this Manual by the proper use of the motion to reconsider and have entered on the minutes as explained on page 165.

65. Order of Business.

   It is customary for every society having a permanent existence to adopt an order of business for its meetings. When no rule has been adopted, the following is the order:

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