Parliamentary Terms Defined

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For those unfamiliar with Parliamentary Procedure, many of the terms may be confusing or ambiguous. The following is a list of Parliamentary Terms Defined.

  • Question: In order to end debate and begin voting, “question” can be called without recognition or a second (however it cannot interrupt the current speaker). The chair will respond that: “Question has been called. Are there any objections?” If there are no objections, voting procedures will begin.
  • Consent: The process of adopting a motion without actually counting individual votes. Following the call of “question” and before the motion is repeated by the chair, a member may call out “consent.” The chair will then reply: “Consent has been called. Are there any objections to consent?” If there is an objection, then voting as normal will proceed.
  • Objection: Typically used in the following cases: after a call for “question” or “consent.” In both cases, there is no need for the “objection” to be seconded or the speaker to be recognized. However, the person objecting cannot interrupt the current speaker. If a question is objected to, then debate continues. If consent is objected to, then normal voting procedures continue.
  • Previous question: If there has been an “objection” to a call for “question,” then this motion can be used as another way to end debate and begin voting. One must be recognized as having the floor; usually while already speaking for, or against the motion at hand. It requires a second and two-thirds vote to pass. If passed, members will then vote on the original motion. If failed, then debate continues.
  • Point of parliamentary inquiry or Query: This is a subsidiary motion, not requiring a second. It takes precedence over most motions, as it is used to ask questions regarding the main motion.
  • Example: “Query. What is the motion currently being considered?"
  • Example: “Point of Parliamentary inquiry. I don't like ____ in the current motion. How do I go about changing it?"
  • Point of Information: This is another subsidiary motion that will take precedence over the original motion, without a second. It can be used by individuals to clear up confusion about the motion being considered, though they must first be recognized by the chair.
  • Example: "Point of information. The motion is supposed to read like this_____."
  • Example: “Point of information. The convention is actually on this date.”
  • Point of Order: Another subsidiary motion, it can be used immediately after an incident in which a member believes there was a possible error in procedure during the meeting, and does not require a second.
  • Point of Personal Privilege: This is a motion that will take precedence over most others, and does not require a second. It is used when an individual needs some specific accommodations, as in the room is too loud to hear speakers and should be quieter, or the room is too warm/cold.
  • Order: Correct Parliamentary procedure; a motion is “in order” if stated correctly. The chair will also use this to keep the meeting under control.
  • Tabling a motion: A subsidiary motion, it takes precedence over the existing motion, but must be seconded and voted on by a majority after a motion has been introduced. It allows for postponing debate on the current motion.
  • Caucus: Although it can be both moderated and un-moderated, this is a less formal manner of debate that must have a set time limit and generally has a set topic.
  • Division: During the process of the chair repeating the original motion before voting, this motion can be made. Division means that votes are counted through roll call, requiring each individual to voice their vote, as opposed to using ballots, consent, or raised hands. It does not require a seconding or recognition by the chair.
  • Motion to reconsider: This motion ordinarily arises when, during the course of a meeting, information bearing on an earlier item of business becomes available to the chapter for the first time. The member should obtain recognition from the Chair. A motion to reconsider business previously transacted requires a second and a majority vote to pass. It also requires that the proposer of the motion have voted with the prevailing side on the earlier item and that the motion be made at the same meeting at which the item was earlier considered and acted on. A motion to reconsider may be debated.

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