Approved by the Board of Trustees December 12, 2010


The By-laws of the Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (AUUF) refer to the use of ballots and proxies. These terms are used correctly in the By-­‐laws, but they have not been correctly understood or used in practice. The Treasurer, on behalf of the Board, has consulted with Dr. Charlotte Ward of Auburn who has a great deal of expertise regarding Parliamentary Procedure of which voting is a part. Dr. Ward, a retired Physics Professor from Auburn University, has served numerous times as President of both the State and local chapters of the League of Women Voters, has worked with the Auburn Election Board for many years, and has taught courses in Parliamentary Procedure.

Based on this consultation, the following voting procedure is proposed for adoption by Resolution of the Board to serve as the official voting procedure to be used whenever votes are conducted at business meetings of the general membership of AUUF.


(Quotes from Merriam-­‐Webster Online and The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure)

Ballot – “a sheet of paper [or other instrument] used to cast a secret vote”. A ballot may be cast in person by the voter, by mail-­‐in ballot, or cast by the person whom the voter names as their proxy. [MWO]

Proxy – 1) “A signed statement authorizing a person to cast the vote of the person signing it.”; for example, Kathy signed a proxy authorizing her friend Sue to vote for her”
2) “May also refer to the person who casts the vote”; for example, Sue is the proxy for her friend, Kathy.” [SCPP]

Sample proxy statement:
I, Kathy Whitehead, hereby appoint Sue Carson, as my proxy at the meeting of the Auburn UU Fellowship on Sept. 3, 2010, to cast my vote by any means provided on all business to come before the meeting. Signed: Kathy Whitehead

Ballot vote –“The expression by ballot, voting machine, or other [instrument] of a choice with respect to any election or vote taken on any matter, cast in such a manner that the person expressing the choice cannot be identified with the choice expressed’ i.e., a secret ballot.” [SCPP]

Voice vote – “A vote taken by calling for ‘ayes’ and ‘noes’ and judged by the volume of voice response; sometimes called a viva voce vote. [SCPP]

Election Officials – The team of individuals appointed by the Board to manage the mechanics of the voting procedure.

It is recommended that the team be composed of at least 3, but no more than 5 persons, preferably drawn from the Trustees, the Council, and if necessary, from the general membership. The responsibilities of the following officers excludes them from serving as Election Officials: the President conducts the meeting, the Secretary keeps a record of the meeting and the results of the vote, and the Treasurer coordinates the Election Officials.

*** Note that a mail-­‐in ballot and a proxy statement are two different things.***

  1. The Finance Committee, Minister, President and Membership Chair shall provide the Treasurer with a list of qualified voters; the Treasurer shall then provide the list of qualified voters to the election officials.
  2. If mail-­‐in ballots are to be used, the instructions on the ballot must tell the voter to put the completed ballot in a sealed blank envelope, then put the blank envelope in a mailing envelope and BE SURE to include his NAME on the outside return address.
  3. When the organization receives the mailed-­‐in ballot, the name on the return address is marked on the list of qualified members, showing that the member’s vote has been cast.
  4. a) The outer envelopes are opened and set aside as further documentation of whose ballots have come in; they should kept in a place that is separate from where the inner envelopes will be opened, so as to preserve the secrecy of the ballots.
    b) The sealed blank inner envelopes are set aside to be counted along with any ballots that are cast in person.

  5. If ballots are to be cast in person, the Election Officials set up two or more stations, according to the number of voters present, at which stations,
  6. a) each qualified member records his/her presence by signing next to his/her name on the list of qualified members,
    b) any person who presents a valid proxy records his/her presence by signing next to the name of the person for whom s/he is authorized to vote on the list of qualified members,
    c) after signing, each qualified voter is given a ballot that is easily distinguishable in appearance from the mail-­‐in ballots by color or other marking.

    Example situation:
    If Michael can’t attend and forgot to mail in his ballot, he can give Greg his proxy statement, but NOT his mail-­‐in ballot. Greg brings the proxy statement to the polling place and is allowed to register and vote for Michael. A blank mail-­‐in ballot is DEFINITELY NOT a proxy statement; further, mail-­‐in ballots should not be permitted on the day of in-­‐person voting. This ensures that no one votes twice.

  7. If the total number of mail-­‐in ballots received plus the number of qualified members registering in person is sufficent for the quorum defined in the By-­‐laws, the meeting moves ahead with the vote.
  8. Example: If the By‐laws set a quorum at 40 percent of the members and there are 100 members, then a quorum is present when the number of mail-­‐in ballots together with the in-person voters who have signed the register equals 40.

  9. When a quorum is present, the President calls for each voter to mark his/her ballot and return it to the Election Officials as directed (dropped in a basket or whatever).
  10. When all votes have been cast, the Election Officials:
  11. a) open all the sealed mail-­‐in ballots,
    b) tally all the mail-­‐in ballots and the ballots cast in person,
    c) record the results of the count.

  12. The President announces whether the number of ‘yes’ votes is sufficient to meet the number required in the By-­‐laws for adoption of the issue, i.e., majority of the votes cast, two-­‐thirds of the votes cast, etc.
  13. If the vote is to be taken by a show of hands, then all _non-­‐voters_ are invited to continue enjoying the refreshment table, while only eligible members, including those with valid proxy statements, move into a designated area of the room. Eligible members and those with valid proxy statements are required to sign next to their name (or if a proxy, next to the name of the person for whom they are voting) on a roster of eligible members before being allowed into the designated area.
  14. a) The Election Officials count the hands shown when voting and report the results to the President.