Simplified Rules of Order

Motions That Bring a Question Again Before the Assembly


A motion to reconsider enables the majority in a meeting within a limited time and without notice, to bring back for further consideration a motion that has already been put to a vote. The purpose of reconsideration is to permit a meeting to correct a hasty, ill-advised, or erroneous action, or to take into account added information or a changed situation that has developed since the taking of the vote.

If the motion to reconsider is passed, the effect is to cancel the original vote on the motion to be reconsidered and reopen the matter for debate as if the original vote had never occurred.

A motion to reconsider has the following unique characteristics:

  1. It can be made only by a member who voted with the prevailing side--that is, voted in favor if the motion involved was adopted, or voted contrary if the motion was defeated. This requirement is a protection against a defeated minority's using a motion to reconsider as a dilatory tactic. If a member who cannot move a reconsideration believes there are valid reasons for one, he/she should try to persuade someone who voted with the prevailing side to make such a motion.
  2. The motion is subject to time limits. In a session of one day, a motion to reconsider can be made only on the same day the vote to be reconsidered was taken. In a convention or session of more than one day, reconsideration can be moved only on the same or the next succeeding day after the original vote was taken. These time limitations do not apply to standing or special committees.
  3. The motion can be made and seconded at times when it is not in order for it to come before the assembly for debate or vote. In such a case it can be taken up later, at a time when it would otherwise be too late to make the motion.

Making a motion to reconsider (as distinguished from debating such a motion) takes precedence over any other motion whatever and yields to nothing. Making such a motion is in order at any time, even after the assembly has voted to adjourn--if the member rose and addressed the chair before the chair declared the meeting adjourned. In terms of debate of the motion, a motion to reconsider has only the same rank as that of the motion to be reconsidered.

A motion to reconsider can be made when another person has been assigned the floor, but not after he/she has begun to speak. The motion must be seconded, is debatable provided that the motion to be reconsidered is debatable (in which case debate can go into the original question), is not amendable, and cannot be reconsidered.

Robert's Rules of Order specify that a motion to reconsider requires only a majority vote, regardless of the vote necessary to adopt the motion to be reconsidered, except in meetings of standing or special committees. However, some groups follow the practice of requiring a two-thirds majority for any vote that amends an agenda once that agenda has been adopted. The motion to reconsider has the effect of amending the agenda, because if it passes, the original motion must be debated again--that is, it must be placed on the agenda again. To simplify matters, therefore, some groups require a two-thirds majority vote on all motions to reconsider.

In regular meetings the motion to reconsider may be made (only by someone who voted with the prevailing side) at any time--in fact, it takes precedence over any other motion--but its rank as far as debate is concerned is the same as the motion it seeks to reconsider. In other words, the motion to reconsider may be made at any time, but debate on it may have to be postponed until later.

Moreover, as indicated earlier, in regular meetings a motion to reconsider is subject to time limits. In a one-day meeting it can be made only on the same day. In a two- or more day meeting, the motion must be made on the same day as the motion it wants to reconsider, or on the next day.

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Last changed: 10/08/2002

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