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Procedure for Conducting Ballots and Voting (Appendix B)
When a meeting of members is called upon to reach a decision about something, the process of presenting the proposal for decision is known as a ballot.
  • The proposal on which the members are invited to make their decision is "the proposal".
  • The member who proposes the proposal is "the mover"
  • In many ballots, a second member is required to openly support the proposal that is proposed by the mover, before the proposal is allowed to be put to the vote. That member is known as "the seconder".
  • The document on which the proposal is presented for voting is "the voting form". A sample is shown at the foot of this Appendix.
Voting begins when the Chair (a.k.a Chairperson) invites the members to vote by writing "Aye" or "Yes" to vote IN FAVOUR OF the proposal (support the proposal) or "No" to vote AGAINST the proposal.

Voting is finished when the Chair declares the ballot "closed". The Secretary, or some other person appointed by the Chair, then counts the votes and announces the result to the meeting.
  • For decisions determined by a "simple majority", the proposal succeeds ("is carried") if there are more votes in favour of the proposal than against it.
  • For decisions on ballots conducted to decide the results of Special Resolutions, the proposal is carried if 75% or more of the votes are in favour of it.
  • The Chair's casting (second) vote is required to resolve the result when, after the ballot is closed, one more vote would cause a proposal requiring a simple majority to be either carried or defeated.
Amending proposals

An amendment is a request to change the wording of a proposal. If a member proposes an amendment that would change the meaning or substantially alter the scope of the original proposal, the Chair must rule it "out of order".

To be valid, an amendment
  1. must be proposed immediately AFTER the original proposal has been put to the vote but BEFORE voting begins. This means that the proposer (mover) and seconder of the proposal to amend have to be serious about it and must be ready to propose the amendment as soon as the original proposal has been put.
  2. must have both a mover and a seconder, unless the proposal of amendment is proposed by the Chair. The mover and the seconder should coordinate themselves so that the proposal of amendment is presented to the meeting complete with both of their names. The Chair is entitled to rule out of order any proposal of amendment that is not presented in this manner.
  3. may be "foreshadowed", that is, the mover and seconder may table their proposal of amendment before the original proposal is put, but the amendment can not be voted on before the original proposal is put.
If there is more than one proposal to amend, they are dealt with in the order that they are received.

Amendments must be put to the vote before voting on the original proposal can continue.
  1. In all cases, a simple majority carries a proposal of amendment and the amended proposal replaces the original proposal and becomes the proposal that the meeting will be asked to vote on.
  2. If a proposal of amendment is not carried, the wording of the original proposal stands until or unless it is overridden by a subsequent successful amendment.
Right to Vote

There is a 21-day notice period before an Annual General Meeting or a Special general meeting; 14-day before other meetings. Within four days of the start of a meeting, the Secretary will post a multi-recipient message to all voting members, asking each person on the list to reply, indicating that you are aware that the meeting is due to start at such-and-such a time and should be considered "present". You will be asked to reply to the Secretary (not the list) indicating whether you will be present. Anyone who has not seen an Alert message from the FFMembers email should tell the Secretary so and provide an email address that will not block messages from the list.

You must be a paid-up voting member in order to vote. If your subscription is more than two months overdue, you are technically no longer a member and you must pay your renewal in order to restore your right to vote. The list will show renewal dates beside the names of those who need to attend to this before any voting begins.

Those who indicate their intention to attend the meeting will be counted for the quorum. However, not being counted for the quorum does not prevent a voting member from exercising his or her right to vote.

Associate members do not normally have the right to vote.

Timing

Our rules state that all timing relating to meetings is expressed in GMT. Because of time differences, it is necessary to allow time to elapse between the stages in the ballot. It is considered reasonable that, having accepted the Rules and the concept that ballots are conducted by email, members will have access to email at least once a day. Therefore, the standard delay between each stage of a ballot is 24 hours. The Secretary will post the deadlines for each stage on the appropriate messages and voting forms.

However, practice shows that some people cannot access email at weekends and holidays. That means there is theoretically a three-and-half day window during which deadlines on outstanding ballot stages might be difficult for some voters to meet. Thus, Special Resolutions will not be put to the ballot between 5 a.m. Friday and 10 p.m. Monday GMT. It will also be at the discretion of the Chair to extend any deadline if requested by a voting member.

Mechanisms for Ballots
  1. Our main mechanism for ballots is email.
    • At general meetings, the Chair will indicate that a proposal is ready to put the vote by posting a fresh message (i.e. not a reply to a previous message) that has as its subject the agenda number and a short title identifying the matter of the proposal. In the message, the Chair will state the proposal, name the mover and (if there is one) the seconder.
    • Each proposal will be uniquely identified by the convention
    • yyyy-mm[-dd]-NN[-nn[:x]]
      where the sequence up to and including NN is the agenda number of the matter under proposal and -nn may be used to number multiple proposals arising from the same agenda item. The element :x may be used to enumerate sub-clauses of a proposal.
    • A proposal is taken to have been put to the ballot when the secretary posts a voting form. Members can recognise a voting form as an email with its subject beginning with the words "PLEASE VOTE". In it, the proposal will be stated, with a request to vote "Aye" to support the proposal or "No" to vote against it. A deadline date and time in GMT will be given.
    • All those entitled to vote may do so by hitting the Reply button in the email client, voting Aye or No, signing the message with the full name and sending the reply before the stated deadline.
    • Except for Special Resolutions, voting members who signalled their presence at the meeting will be taken to have voted Aye if they do not return a voting form.
    • For Special Resolutions, only votes on voting forms will be counted.
    • Voting forms returned that are not in accordance with the instructions on the voting form are invalid and will be offered back to the voter for amendment.
  2. Semi-automated voting through a web interface might be available for special purposes, e.g. where two members assert their right to ask for a fully-counted ballot and the other members agree.
  3. The implementation and use of such software would be documented separately in a "How-to". For consideration:
    • A refactoring of the FFVote system previously used (Firebird database back-end) and relocation on a reliable web server
    • Another on-line voting system
  4. Special Resolutions — Work-in-progress
  5. A recent re-interpretation of the law by an officer of the NSW Department of Commerce (Fair Trading) with regard to Special Resolutions threatens to make it impossible for us to ballot these resolutions by email. We have sought legal advice in NSW and inquiries with the department's commissioner are proceeding.
  6. Committee ballots
  7. Committee ballots normally are less formal than those in general meetings.
    • Decisions at scheduled committee meetings, which are subject to an Agenda, should in general be made by consensus. The Chairman will ask fellow committee members to consider a proposal arising from a matter under discussion and ask whether there are any objections to recording it as "agreed by consensus". Members have 24 hours to register any objection.
      1. If there are no objections, or one objection, the secretary minutes the decision as "carried by consensus".
      2. If there are two or more objections, the Chair will proceed to put the proposal to the vote, according to the procedure for general meetings.
      3. If any member responds not by objecting but by asking for discussion to continue, the Chair will, at his discretion, allow it, and re-raise the proposal at a suitable later time.
    • The committee remains "in session" between scheduled meetings to discuss day-to-day issues that might arise. Regularly, the members are asked to approve an application for membership; less often, they are asked to approve an offer of sponsorship. Decisions on such matters shall be made by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached on such decisions, the Secretary is asked to add the issue to the Agenda for the next meeting.
Sample Voting Form

..........
Subject :: PLEASE VOTE :: 2005-AGM2005-03: Duty to Vote
..........

V O T I N G F O R M
---------------------------

2005-AGM2005-03 :: That all members eligible to vote under the Rules of this Association should be strongly urged to exercise this duty and privilege of membership whenever called upon to do so.

Proposer :: A. Proposer
Seconder :: A. Seconder

Respond "Aye" or "Yes" to vote in favour of the motion.
Respond "No" to vote against the motion.
Sign your response with your full name.

This voting form was posted at 17:30 hours GMT on Monday 23 May, 2005. You must post your vote no later than 17:30 hours GMT on Tuesday 24 May, 2005.
 
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