Rescind or Amend Something Previously Adopted

Have you or a member of your group or organization changed your mind about a motion that has been adopted? The motion might have been made with the best of intentions. It might have been discussed by the best minds in the group. Emotion might have ruled the debate, and the vote, that night. Maybe some important information wasn't available at the time. It's time to think about rescinding the motion — or, its companion motion, amend something previously adopted. If action has not been taken on the motion and it is not impossible to change it, you and your group or organization are in luck.

Let's Take Another Look

Did you open the newspaper this morning and find out that there are problems at the place where your group or organization was planning to send a donation? It might be a bad idea to send that donation until you get more information. Perhaps members wanted to start building the clubhouse, but some changes in the membership situation since that vote was taken have caused many of you to question that original decision.

QUESTION?

What if someone resigns but then changes his mind?

A resignation cannot be rescinded if action has been taken on it and the member notified. Likewise, if a member has been expelled or removed from office and notified, this action can't be rescinded.

Previous Notice

Robert's Rules mandate previous notice if a group or organization wants to rescind or amend something previously adopted. This can be done by notifying the membership in writing by mail or e-mail or fax. Or a member can give verbal notice at the meeting before the one at which he or she will be making the motion. To do this, the member should say, “I rise to give previous notice that at the next meeting I'll be making a motion to rescind the action [to do X].”

If there is no previous notice, then there must be a two-thirds or majority of the membership (not a majority of those present at that meeting) vote for it to be adopted. This is so that the rights of the membership aren't abridged.

Making the Motion

To make a motion to rescind or amend something previously adopted, a member should say, “I move to rescind the action [to do X].” Another member then needs to second the motion. At this point, if previous notice was given, the chair should note this to the membership, tell them that a majority is needed to adopt, and ask if there is any discussion. After any discussion, the group votes.

If, however, there has not been previous notice, the chair should mention this to the membership. At that point, the chair should remind the membership that the motion needs a two-thirds vote to pass (see Appendix B for a list of motions that require two-thirds or a majority vote). If the motion is adopted, the motion that had been adopted previously is reversed. If there is a negative vote, the motion to rescind or amend something previously adopted may be reconsidered later.

ALERT!

The previous notice requirement was invented for a reason — there may be members who are unhappy that a motion passed who decide to try to rescind it or amend it to their own ends later. With previous notice, members can be alerted to a potential change.

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