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Parliamentary Procedure.


The selection of officers  for a permanent society should be most carefully made among those members who are best fitted for such positions.

The president should be a person with good judgment; one who is able, first, to rule her own spirit, always courteous; firm, but tactful; with good voice, and having a knowledge of parliamentary law.

The recording secretary should be one who thinks quickly, is a good reader, and a legible writer. The minutes of the meetings, which the recording secretary takes, are the historical records of the society and should be absolutely correct, not such minutes as were presented by one recording secretary of a club who said: “I made them up at home as best I could from what I remembered of the motions, as I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with the business at the meeting.” They should always be read the first thing at the following meeting after they are taken, in order that omissions may be supplied, and corrections made. While the minutes of a society are sacred and not to be tampered with, they are not as sacred as one member of a club supposed. When corrections were made at the next meeting, which changed them a little, she expressed great surprise and said: “Why, I thought that minutes could never be changed.” They should not be copied into the secretary’s book until corrected and approved.

Should any disputed question arise when the minutes could be used as testimony, they would be received in the law courts as such.

If the society is one that requires initiation fees and annual dues, then it must have a treasurer in whose care this money can be placed. The one selected for this office, if not a mathematical genius, should have at least an interest in mathematics, and then her task will be an easy one. No person like Dickens’s Dora—who said: “My figures won’t add up” or approaching such lack of ability—should be chosen for this office. The treasurer’s books should be kept in such an orderly manner that a monthly report can be given if called for, and an audited annual report at the close of the year should be required.

The constitution should, and usually does provide what shall be the method of election, also how the formal ballot shall be prepared. In some cases a blank informal ballot is sent to every voting member, with offices to be filled printed on it. The names of candidates for each one are written in, and these are returned to the chairman of the nominating committee, or to inspectors, as outlined in the constitution. From these returns the formal ballot is made up. The two names having the highest number of votes for each office are presented for the vote of the society.

Again, the informal ballot may be taken at the annual meeting, by each voting member writing her choice for officers on slips of paper. These being collected by the tellers, the formal ballot is made from them exactly as by the other method. This is a very fair way, but it is seldom followed, as it consumes too much time at so important a meeting. In the

election of officers it is never safe to call for nominations from the floor. Members in this way nominate friends that they would like to see honored by such positions, but who may be entirely unfitted to fill them. Others, having no special preference, follow their lead with what proves to be a disastrous result sometimes. The president or chairman has no appointing power by virtue of her office. Only such as may be given her by the assembly in the constitution, or by vote in the meeting.

In some clubs their constitution provides that the chairmen of all standing committees shall be appointed by the president.

If any officer is absent from a meeting she cannot provide another to take her place. The assembly alone has this right. If the president is absent, the vice-president presides; if both are away, the recording secretary takes the chair, calls the meeting to order, and announces the first business to be the nominations for a chairman pro tem., and the chairman thus elected presides.

Recently on entering a club meeting and noticing another member in the place of the recording secretary, who was absent, as the meeting had not been called to order, the question was asked what it meant? The president replied that in the absence of the secretary she had appointed another.

As this club had voted to adopt parliamentary methods, the error had to be corrected by the proper method of nomination and election.

And so the incorrect methods are giving place to the better parliamentary way.—Mrs. Theodore F. Seward.

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You are reading Parliamentary Procedure. from the March, 1900 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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