If new to parliamentary law, the answers to the following questions may not be what you expect, since the requirements of a voluntary assembly are different than those we are accustomed to in government elections.
How many nominees should be chosen for an office in an ordinary society?
From a parliamentary law point of view, it is best for the nominating committee to choose only one nominee (the best one) for each office. If the committee members are required to come up with more than one candidate, they may have to choose someone who isn't as qualified. If they choose two who are equally qualified, one is sure to lose, and the loser may decline to be nominated again. Electing officers in organizations is different than national elections where citizens always have two candidates from which to choose. In organizations, it is best not to make members compete against each other. Organizations need to promote cooperation. However, if the members feel that the nominating committee is playing politics and is not nominating the best candidate, the members should nominate someone else.
After the nominating committee presents its slate of nominees as part of its report to the assembly, the bylaws usually permit members to declare additional nominees from the floor. Furthermore, if the vote is subsequently by ballot, members have the option of writing in a candidate.
What is the most important quality to be president of an ordinary society?
The presiding officer of an assembly—especially of a large one—should be chosen principally for the ability to preside. This person should be well versed in parliamentary law and should be thoroughly familiar with the bylaws and other rules of the organization—even if he or she is to have the assistance of a parliamentarian. At the same time, any presiding officer will do well to bear in mind that no rules can take the place of tact and common sense on the part of the chairman.
--RONR (11th ed.), p. 449, ll. 7-14
Therefore, it is not credentials, expertise, or standing in the community that makes one most qualified to be the president of an organized permanent society. Rather, it is the person's ability to conduct meetings fairly and efficiently using parliamentary procedure.
Ka Papa Hana 101
Post by Keokani Kipona Marciel, MS
Member, National Association of Parliamentarians
Blog of the Central Body of the Hawaiian Patriotic League
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