Convention Procedures

Concerning the manner in which business is conducted while the convention is in session, any delegate wishing to speak must get up from his/her seat and proceed to a microphone to be recognized. There will be several microphones placed on the convention floor, and the presiding officer will endeavor to recognize delegates in order.

Floor voting will be handled using an Audience Response System (ARS), which was first instituted at the 1996 Convention. ARS consists of a wireless keypad, with which a delegate may vote on motions and amendments. The keypad transmits a signal to one or more receivers, which forward the data to a computer for tabulation. The results of each vote are then immediately displayed on large video screens in the convention hall, easily visible to all delegates and visitors. ARS also will be used for attendance-tracking purposes.

Two procedures are a frequent source of contention and misunderstanding at conventions, and they both relate to the manner in which resolutions are presented to the body.

The first is the Bylaws Committee’s handling of multiple, and differing, resolutions on the same section of the BLET Bylaws. Some delegates feel that each similar resolution should be deliberated separately. This undoubtedly would lengthen the convention itself and could lead to such confusion that the outcome might not reflect what the delegates wanted.

The tried and true solution is for the Bylaws Committee to present its own recommendation on each resolution to the body. The delegates are then free to adopt, amend or reject that recommendation. They may even vote to substitute another resolution for the Committee’s recommendation.

If the delegates vote against the Bylaws Committee recommendation, there is then no motion on the floor for discussion; and the first delegate up to the microphone to make a motion is free to move the passage of any one of the resolutions from divisions on the same subject. The delegates would then be able to adopt, amend or reject that resolution. If that motion fails, another delegate may make a motion for passage of one of the other resolutions not yet discussed, and so on. It is a proven process, and it works.

The second misunderstood procedure revolves around the Bylaws Committee recommendation itself. In the past, Bylaws Committees often recommended the rejection of a resolution, which required the delegates to basically vote “yes” to say “no,”and vice versa, which can prove to be confusing. But beginning in 1996, the Bylaws Committee used a procedure that – combined with the ARS display screen – made things more understandable.

If the Bylaws Committee recommends adoption of the resolution of a division, it will say so. If it recommends adoption of its own resolution, it will say so. But if the committee wishes to recommend rejection of any and all resolutions on a particular subject and make no change to present law, it will merely recommend “Retain Present Law” or “No Change.” A “Retain Present Law” or “No Change” recommendation proves to be much easier for the body to understand than a motion to reject.

Delegates also will have a much clearer idea of what they are actually voting on because next to the ARS display screen will be another screen, which displays and highlights the motion being presented or amended. There will be no need to ask the question, “What did we just vote on?”

Lastly, in keeping with the practice established at previous conventions, draft minutes of the previous day’s session will be at each delegate’s seat every morning. Please carefully review these drafts to identify any corrections that may be necessary.