July 13, 2015
The right for members to express their voice on issues that are germane to their field, industry, or profession is at the core of why associations and professional societies exist. Working with our elected or appointed leadership, we are the careful stewards – committed to ensuring that the voices of all eligible members are heard.
Typically, as a result of careful thought and discourse by the respective leadership/volunteers, each association and society determines who in its membership carries the privilege of a vote. This then is very clearly spelled out in the bylaws.
Bylaws may include detailed rules for voting at member meetings, including proxy voting. Proxy voting is the delegation of voting rights from one member to another qualified member, “…in order to vote in their absence and/or to select additional representatives” (with thanks to Wikipedia). Subject to applicable state law, it may be that the governing body has a choice of voting methods, and therefore limited discretion to choose their preferred method, i.e., in-person or online. This valuable 2012 report includes a list of state laws for email voting on page 6. The state of incorporation governs.
Bylaws will often include language stating that meetings shall be conducted according to Roberts Rules of Order or the Sturgis Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure.
To best serve our association and societies, it is incumbent on each of us to be well versed in all aspects of a vote — from bylaws through all related processes and procedures that are in place to guard this basic tenet.