Simplified Rules of Order

Principles of Parliamentary Procedure

  1. The purpose of parliamentary procedure is to make it easier for people to work together effectively and to help groups accomplish their purposes. Rules of procedure should assist a meeting, not inhibit it.
  2. A meeting can deal with only one matter at a time. The various kinds of motions have therefore been assigned an order of precedence (see Table 1).
  3. All members have equal rights, privileges and obligations. One of the chairperson's main responsibilities is to use the authority of the chair to ensure that all people attending a meeting are treated equally--for example, not to permit a vocal few to dominate the debates.
  4. A majority vote decides an issue. In any group, each member agrees to be governed by the vote of the majority. Parliamentary rules enable a meeting to determine the will of the majority of those attending a meeting.
  5. The rights of the minority must be protected at all times. Although the ultimate decision rests with a majority, all members have such basic rights as the right to be heard and the right to oppose. The rights of all members--majority and minority--should be the concern of every member, for a person may be in a majority on one question, but in minority the on the next.
  6. Every matter presented for decision should be discussed fully. The right of every member to speak on any issue is as important as each member's right to vote.
  7. Every member has the right to understand the meaning of any question presented to a meeting, and to know what effect a decision will have. A member always has the right to request information on any motion he or she does not thoroughly understand. Moreover, all meetings must be characterized by fairness and by good faith. Parliamentary strategy is the art of using procedure legitimately to support or defeat a proposal.

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Last changed: 10/08/2002
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