Officer Elections Guide

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The following is intended as a guide to help the chapter with Officer Elections. Each Chapter should annually elect officers and committee chairs depending on what the bylaws require. Oftentimes chapters are unsure of the proper procedure for conducting elections. Robert's Rules of Order can be confusing so this resource has been established to help chapters conduct elections in a fair and efficient manner. Use this resource in addition to the Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised and other parliamentary procedure resources available as your chapter prepares for elections. Keep in mind that Phi Sigma Pi follows Robert's Rules of Order so other rules of conduct are not to be used in chapter business. If there is any confusion or questions, contact your Region Consultant at National Headquarters.

Officer Elections Explained

Officer elections should be conducted annually in each chapter. They can be conducted in the fall or spring based on the preference of your chapter as outlined in the chapter bylaws. Officers should be elected to serve for a term of two semesters or three quarters unless otherwise specified in the chapter bylaws.

Elections should be carried out in a fair and professional manner. This guide has been established to assist your chapter in conducting officer elections and to clarify the rules governing debate, nominations, and elections. Review the following procedures set forth by Robert's Rules of Order and other such resources.

  • Consider how long it will take for you to conduct elections. Consider having officer and committee chair (if applicable) elections at two different meetings.
  • Announce the date at least four weeks in advance.
  • Begin taking nominations two weeks prior to elections.
  • Be sure all chapter members are familiar with your chapter's election procedures (i.e. who is eligible to run, requirements for positions, voting procedures, etc.)
  • Ensure quorum is met throughout the voting process.
  • Officers should be elected in the order of seniority – as they are listed in the chapter bylaws (President, Vice President, Secretary…)
  • Candidates for each office should be able to give a prepared speech and answer questions (other candidates for the same position should not be present at the time of these speeches and during the question and answer period.)
  • Each nominee should be individually discussed by the chapter using a pro/con format.
  • At the conclusion of the speeches and pro/con debate, conduct voting procedures via secret ballot.

Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised

  • Rules of Governing Debate (373)
  • Voting (387)
  • Nominations and Elections (416)


Take nominations for each office individually. "Open nominations" are taken from the floor by the chair calling for nominations. A member does not need to be recognized by the chair to make a nomination and there is no second required. The same person may be nominated for more than one office. Nominations for different offices are called for in order in which the offices are listed in the Chapter's bylaws. (417)


The presiding officer (the chair) has the same rights in debate, but his/her impartiality precludes exercising these rights. To participate in debate he/she must relinquish the chair to the vice-president. He/she may return to the chair only after the pending main question has ended. (382)

If there is no special rule relating to the length of speeches in the Chapter's bylaws, a member having the floor during debate can speak no longer than ten minutes unless he/she obtains consent of the assembly. (375)


Voting by secret ballot is used when secrecy is desired. The Chapter's bylaws may prescribe a vote by ballot in the election of officers and in admission to membership. The ballot can be a small slip of paper in which the voter writes his/her choice on the ballot or ballots can be prepared. (424)

The chair appoints tellers to distribute, collect, and count ballots and report the vote. Tellers should be accurate and dependable members and should have no direct personal involvement in the result of the vote (i.e. should not be a member nominated to an office.) Tellers should refrain from voting. After votes are collected, the chair closes the poll and the votes are counted and reported. (426)

Taking Office

The newly elected officer does not take office until installed by the Officer Installation Ceremony in The Ritual.

Parliamentary Procedure at a Glance


An office must be created by the Chapter Bylaws or by a motion to that effect before it can be filled by election or otherwise.

The chair must call for nominations. Chairman: "Nominations are now in order for the office of _____."

Nominations do not require a second. However, any number of persons may second a nomination to show their support of that nominee.

The motion to close nominations is not in order until the assembly is apparently ready to close nominations. When there are two or more nominees for the office the motion to close nominations requires a 2/3 vote.

If the chair recognizes a member and that member moves that nominations close (and it is seconded) before ample opportunity has been given for nominations from the floor, the chair should ignore this premature motion simply by asking, "Are there further nominations?" instead of stating the motion to close nominations. If and when there are no further nominations the chair may then put the motion to a vote without waiting for it to be moved a second time.


Elections (and nominations) must conform to the procedure (if there be any) prescribed by the National Constitution and Chapter Bylaws.

Elections should be by ballot to reduce the personal friction of elections to a minimum.

The motion to suspend the rules and elect by acclamation is in order only when the Constitution and Bylaws permit suspension of the election rules. Even when permitted, this procedure usually requires a 2/3 or ¾ vote.


In debate, the floor is usually first given to the maker of the motion. In elections it can be given to the person who nominated the member at hand or it can go to any member of the assembly who can speak on a pro. The debate should continue on this nominee in a pro-con format with each debater being recognized by the chair.

Anyone wishing for debate to end can yell "Question" to end debate. If someone is not ready for debate to end, he/she may yell "Objection" and debate continues.

Debate on each nominee individually and in the order they spoke to the assembly.


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