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Our July organizational meeting is coming up. How do we elect a chair and vice chair?

You'll need someone to be acting chair at the organizational meeting. It can be last year's chair, the vice-chair, or anyone else the board members will allow to run the meeting until a chair is elected.  Check your board policies to see if there are requirements or procedures which govern voting and selection (e.g. Roberts Rules of Order).

Voting cannot proceed until all nominations have been made. After nominations are made, the acting chair leads board members through the list of nominees one by one, calling for votes. Each board member gets one vote. It requires a majority of the board voting for one candidate to elect the chair. A majority is at least four members of a seven member board, or three members of a five member board.

Here is how election of a new board chair would work with a seven-person board consisting of Bev, Brian, Ryan, Joe, Ted, John, and Arieta:

  1. In this example, John, last year's chair, is acting chair at the organizational meeting. John says, "Nominations are now open."

  2. Joe responds, "I nominate Brian." Then, Arieta nominates Ryan, and Brian nominates Bev. The acting chair and the board secretary record each nomination.

  3. John asks if there are further nominations. If he encounters silence, he says, "Seeing no further nominations, I declare nominations closed."

  4. John explains that each board member can cast one vote for board chair. He then works through the nominations in the order they were made, calling for votes: "All those in favor of Brian" (to which Ted and John vote yes); "All those in favor of Ryan,"(to which Arieta and Brian vote yes); and "All those in favor of Bev," (to which Bev, Ryan and Joe vote yes).

  5. In this example, John says, "No candidate received a majority of the board's votes. The action failed; we will begin again." Four votes out of seven are required for a successful election.

  6. John opens nominations again. Brian nominates Bev, and John nominates Ryan. John calls for further nominations, and, getting none, declares nominations closed.

  7. John explains again that each board member can vote for one person. When prompted "All those in favor of Bev," Ted, Joe, Ryan, Bev and Brian vote yes. The chair says, "All those in favor of Ryan." Arieta and John vote yes.

  8. Now a majority of votes has been cast for one member. John announces "Bev is elected chair by a majority vote of 5 in favor."

Notice that, as in the example above, when the election does not result in a majority of the board voting for any one nominee, the complete process starts again, beginning with the acting chair opening nominations.

The election(s) may be conducted by paper ballot.  Note, however, that each ballot must contain the board member's name and recipient of the vote.  Board minutes must record the vote of each board member, identifying the name of the board member and recipient of the member's vote.

The same people may be re-nominated or a new slate may be created. Board members are free to use their one vote apiece as they wish whenever the nomination and voting process starts anew.

Once a chair has been elected, the gavel is passed to the new chair, and he or she leads the board through the process as many times as necessary for a quorum of the board to elect a vice chair.

For more information on this question, Ask Betsy's Team.