The Chapter's two-ballot bylaw is indeed permissible, and the Procedure
does not invalidate it. I offer three colorable arguments in support of
Suppose that the Procedure cited by the regional Parliamentarian has
been formally adopted by the National organization. (If it was not,
the question is resolved a priori in favor of the Chapter's bylaw.) The
wording of the Procedure specifies the circumstances under which it is
to be applied: "for the cases where there may be more candidates who
receive the required number of votes than there are vacancies/slots".
Now consider any situation in which the local Chapter invokes its
two-ballot bylaw. According to the wording of the bylaw, a second ballot
is to be conducted "for the designated openings not filled on the first
ballot". Thus, it must be true in such a case that fewer candidates
received the required number of votes than there are openings. But this
is exactly the contrary of the circumstances specified by the National
So if we ask ourselves whether the National Procedure is applicable in a
case where the local Chapter would wish to conduct a second ballot, the
answer is negative. The National Procedure addresses situations in which
the number of eligible candidates exceeds the number of openings. On
the other hand, the local Chapter's bylaw applies when the number of
eligible candidates is inferior to the number of openings.
In sum, there is no conflict or interference of any kind between the
National Procedure and the Chapter's bylaw. They address situations
that are mutually exclusive. Neither speaks to the other, so neither
can invalidate the other.
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the National Procedure were
modified so that it speaks to the situation in which some openings were
not filled by the first ballot, and that its wording were otherwise
intact. Consider the effect of the Procedure: it mandates that the local
Chapter adopt "procedures prior to voting on prospective candidates",
and names among its examples "(1) taking a 2nd ballot".
The local Chapter, then, has acted in accordance with this National
Procedure, for it has adopted precisely such a procedure. By drafting and
ratifying its two-ballot bylaw, the Chapter has addressed beforehand the
circumstances in question, just as the National Procedure requires. If
the members wish, they may change or eliminate this procedure in favor
of another one, but as it stands the two-ballot procedure is fully in
keeping with the stipulations of the National Procedure.
Hence, the Chapter's two-ballot bylaw is not in contravention of the
National Procedure. On the contrary, the local bylaw embodies the
Chapter's strict adherence to the National Procedure.
We raise the matter, finally, of what Robert's Rules have to say on the
subject of multiple ballots. The general provision on voting by ballot,
in Article VIII, section 46, paragraph 11, does not prescribe the number
of times a ballot is to be iterated.
Voting by Ballot. The main object of this form of voting is
secrecy, and it is resorted to when the question is of such a
nature that some members might hesitate to vote publicly their
true sentiments. Its special use is in the reception of members,
elections, and trials of members and officers, as well as in
the preliminary steps in both cases, and the by-laws should
require the vote to be by ballot in such cases. Where the
by-laws do not require the vote to be by ballot, it can be so
ordered by a majority vote, or by general consent. Such motions
Robert's Rules Online: VIII.46:11
The only mention of multiple balloting is found in Article XI, section 66.
Nominations and Elections. Before proceeding to an election
to fill an office it is customary to nominate one or more
candidates. This nomination is not necessary when the election is
by ballot or roll call, as each member may vote for any eligible
person whether nominated or not. [...] When the nominations
are completed the assembly proceeds to the election, the voting
being by any of the methods mentioned under Voting, , unless
the by-laws prescribe a method. The usual method in permanent
societies is by ballot, the balloting being continued until the
offices are all filled.
Robert's Rules Online: XI.66
Note especially the last sentence: "The usual method in permanent
societies is by ballot, the balloting being continued until the offices
are all filled." This is not a prescriptive rule, for it only describes
the "usual method", but nor does it proscribe the Chapter's bylaw. Indeed,
it fully agrees with the two-ballot bylaw.
If someone were to argue that this section of Robert's Rules pertains to
"offices" and therefore to positions such as treasurer and president,
the rejoinder is twofold. Firstly, an office is not necessarily a higher
office. Membership can itself be considered an office, mean though it
is in comparison to the executive offices, for it constitutes a position
of trust within the organization that distinguishes the member from the
non-member. Secondly, section 66 of Robert's Rules comes much closer
to the situation envisioned by the Chapter's two-ballot bylaw than does
the National Procedure.
Indeed, as we showed in argument 1 above, the National Procedure is
not at all concerned with situations in which the Chapter's two-ballot
bylaw applies. And even if, as in argument 2, we fictitiously modify
the National Procedure so that it does encompass the same situation, we
see that the bylaw complies with the Procedure as well as with Robert's
Rules. However loosely we interpret Robert's Rules, they can only validate
the Chapter's two-ballot bylaw.
In conclusion, you have every reason to believe that the Chapter's
two-ballot bylaw is permissible, and no reason to believe that it is
not. The National Procedure, whether or not it was formally adopted,
does not invalidate the local bylaw, nor does the bylaw contravene
Robert's Rules. If anything, it is supported by Robert's Rules.