Robert's Rules
on Parliamentary

According to

California State Association of Parliamentarians


Survival Tips on
Robert's Rules of Order

Counting Votes; Voting Results


Does Robert mean
... the Majority of the entire membership?
... the Majority of the members present?
... the Majority of the Votes Cast?
How should you count the blank votes, the illegal votes, the abstentions?

The basic requirement for adoption of a motion by any assembly with a quorum is a Majority Vote, except for certain motions as listed below. A Majority is 'more than half' of the votes cast by persons legally entitled to vote, excluding blank votes and abstentions. Majority does not mean 51%. In a situation with 1000 votes, Majority = 501 votes; but 51% = 510 votes.

    Let's see an example:
  • The chair instructed the members, at a meeting with a quorum, to vote by writing 'Yes' or 'No' on a piece of paper.

  • Of the members present, 100 were entitled to vote, but 15 did not cast a ballot. Of the 85 votes cast: 75 were legal; 10 were illegal (the members wrote 'Maybe'); and 4 were turned in blank (abstained).

  • The Majority is any number larger than one half of the total of ...
    (legal votes cast) - (blank votes cast) + (illegal votes cast).

  • Of the 85 Votes Cast by members entitled to vote ...
    (75 were valid) - (4 were blank) + (10 were illegal) = 81 Votes Cast.

  • One half of 81 Votes Cast is 40 1/2. Majority was 41 votes.

2/3 Vote:
Robert specifies which motion will require at least a 2/3 vote for adoption. Notice that it is not called a 2/3 majority. A 2/3 vote is generally not taken as a voice vote, but rather as a standing count, or some other easily countable fashion. Generally speaking, a 2/3 vote is required for adoption of any motion which ...
  1. Suspends or modifies a rule of order already adopted;

  2. Prevents the introduction of a question to consideration;

  3. Closes, limits, or extends the limits of debate;

  4. Closes nominations or the polls;

  5. Takes away membership or office.

Previous Notice:
There is a further requirement. As you can see from the following table, a Previous Notice is needed by some motions which require a 2/3 votes to adopt. A Previous Notice is an announcement of the intent to introduce the motion. A Previous Notice is typically given at least one meeting before the meeting when the proposal is to be introduced.

Votes Required to Adopt a Motion by a 2/3 Vote
A Motion Not involving a By Law, the Constitution,
or an issue listed as Special Order on the Agenda:
With Previous NoticeMajority of votes cast
With NO Previous Notice2/3 of votes cast; OR
Majority of entire membership of the organization
A Motion Involving a By Law, the Constitution,
or an issue listed as Special Order on the Agenda:
With Previous Notice2/3 of votes cast
With NO Previous NoticeMajority of entire membership of the organization

Study this chart carefully and you will agree that it makes a great deal of sense. It protects your interests.

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