Can board members vote by email?

Board votes must be held at a public meeting where the public is able to observe the vote. The meeting must be held at a place and time stated in the meeting posting. Voting by email does not meet this test. However it is possible for the board members to ‘attend’ a meeting on a conference call speakerphone or electronically in an electronic chat room where the responses are projected on a screen in the meeting room so that everyone can see them. These must be ‘real time’ as part of the meeting. Email votes sent it before the meeting, or separate from the actual meeting, are not allowed. The attorney general has said ( p. C-6 of the Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual): “An absentee vote is a vote purportedly cast by a member who is not present at the meeting. This procedure is not authorized by Oregon Law and is also improper since the absent member may not be counted toward making up a quorum and may not vote. This is not to suggest, however that personal presence at the meeting is required. A member may, for example, be present, participate and vote by telephone.”

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