Common Errors in Parliamentary Procedure

Authors: Phil Kenkel, Oklahoma State University,, and Bill Fitzwater,
Oklahoma State University

  1. Prolonged discussion without a motion. This tends to violate the principle of “one thing at a time.” It is the main reason the chair gets in trouble conducting meetings. Discussion without a motion can become rambling argument rather than constructive discussion; the chair may stop this rambling by requesting the business be placed before the group in the form of a motion.
  2. Failure to confine discussion to the motion before the house. It is the chair’s job to keep the meeting on track. The chair can rule a discussion out of order.
  3. Failure to know and follow the essential steps in the presentation and disposition of a motion.
  4. The prevalent belief that one individual’s calling “question” forces an immediate vote. This obviously is not true since it would violate the principles of majority rule, rights of the minority and courtesy. There is a procedure for forcing an immediate vote, but it requires a motion of “previous question” and a two-thirds majority vote.
  5. Closing nominations too quickly when conducting elections.
  6. Voting on candidates in the reverse order from which they were nominated. Robert’s Rules of Order states that candidates should be voted on in the order they were nominated primarily because the most competent candidates are usually nominated first.
  7. Not calling for additional nominations when a nominating committee is used. The nominating committee selects the candidates that it feels are most competent; however, this does not mean that they must be accepted by acclimation. The floor must always be opened up for additional nominations.