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Votes to abstain

  • 1.  Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 26, 2022 10:00 AM
    Hi,

    I am observing a growing number of abstentions by Councilors on votes taken by Council.  Can anyone point me to any written information about when/why Councilors can or should abstain from a vote?  I do understand that there are reasons at times (conflicts of interest, based on subject matter, for abstaining. What puzzles me most is the vote of 7 Councilors to abstain from the vote about discontinuing Council Forum.  I don't see any conflicts of interest among any Council representatives regarding this topic that would lead to abstaining from the vote. I'd like to understand the reasoning for abstaining...

    Thanks in advance,

    Lori

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    Lori Fisher
    Assistant State Librarian
    New Hampshire State Library
    She/Her/Hers
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  • 2.  RE: Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 26, 2022 11:57 AM

    Hi, Lori-
       I can only offer my own perspective on abstentions.  Others may have different ideas. 

    I think that sometimes in the case of sensitive or controversial topics, councilors abstain in order to avoid going on record as taking one side or the other.  In all my years on Council I've probably abstained only once or twice. 

    In a situation like today's vote, I think that the abstentions indicate that the voter was truly undecided on the issue. 

    cheers,
      John



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    John DeSantis
    Interim Head of Metadata Services
    Dartmouth College
    Hanover, NH
    he/him/his
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  • 3.  RE: Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 26, 2022 12:47 PM
    I abstain if 1.) I have a conflict in interest 2.) had to step away when voting occurred, and 3.) when I don’t have enough information to make the right decision to vote yes/no. Since I am a councilor at large, my votes are what all ALA members would want/better all ALA members verses chapter councilors/round table councilors who vote based on their constituents. I very rarely use Abstain but have because I didn’t know enough to make the right decision for my constituents.

    I am not sure who abstained, but I would think those who were participants in the start of forums and who currently run forum abstained. That is just a guess.

    Kari R. Mitchell, MLIS



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  • 4.  RE: Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 26, 2022 01:29 PM
    Abstaining is the right of any voting member and one may do so for any reason.  

    Since no councilor can be forced to vote the option to abstain is provided for those who choose not to vote on a particular matter.  

    Additional procedural details on voting can be found on page 40 in Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised. 12th Edition.  

    Sincerely,

    Adrian Stratton, PRP





  • 5.  RE: Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 26, 2022 02:07 PM
    Thanks Adrian!  I didn't know the "official rules" of Abstaining, but just what I do.  I am laughing that Robert's Rules just say "any reason" when it is so detailed on everything else.

    Again, thanks for looking it up!

    Kari R. Mitchell, MLIS



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    Please excuse any typos





  • 6.  RE: Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 26, 2022 02:11 PM
    And, welcome Adrain!  I look forward to working with you.  I am attending virtually but hope to meet you this winter.

    Kari R. Mitchell, MLIS



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  • 7.  RE: Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 26, 2022 04:11 PM
    I am a member of the ALA Council Orientation Committee and former Council Forum facilitator.
    I did not abstain from voting, in fact I voted against CD#56.

    Jackie

    Jacquelyn A. Bryant
    Google Voice: 267-270-2213





  • 8.  RE: Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 26, 2022 05:28 PM
    Thank you, Jacquelyn.  When I made my comment, I was just guessing on who might feel a conflict of interest.  I, in no means, meant that those did have a conflict of interest or were the ones who abstained.  Votes are public record.  Adrain's clarification of abstaining per Robert's Rules great knowledge to me on the role of abstaining.  I apologize to all of my first comment came across as fact vs. guessing.

    Kari R. Mitchell, MLIS



    Sent from my iPhone
    Please excuse any typos





  • 9.  RE: Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 27, 2022 08:40 AM
    I replied to the wrong thread, so I'm sharing it here...
    I'll admit that I abstained during a vote Saturday, but that was because I'm virtual… and there was one resolution with amendments that got very confusing for me by the time of the vote.  At that point, I was unsure of what exact aspect we were voting on, and it wasn't repeated nor was it on the screen. But I did email governance after the meeting to suggest keeping it on the screen and having it repeated verbally immediately before taking the vote, and that helped a lot (for me) with today's meeting.

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    Sonnet Ireland
    Library Director
    She/Her/Hers
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  • 10.  RE: Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 27, 2022 09:23 AM

    I've always assumed that the people who abstain from one vote are not the same people who abstain from another vote and that the reasons are varied.  I hope Council will work to revise the way it works and adopt a more modern model incorporating, as our incoming president Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada suggested, working/study sessions.  Perhaps in preparation for such changes we might reach out to councilors and ask if they want to share why they've abstained from a vote.

    In the interests of full disclosure I actually cast my first abstention vote this morning.  It was because a document we were asked to approve was not available ahead of the meeting on the website and, although staff reacted quickly to make it available, I was uncomfortable voting on a document I was having difficulty reading via Zoom and hadn't thoroughly reviewed.

    Eileen

    --  Eileen M. Palmer Executive Director Libraries of Middlesex Automation Consortium NJLA Chapter Councilor to the ALA  27 Mayfield Ave. Edison, NJ 08837 (732) 750-2525 ext. 103 (732) 225-0910 (fax) empalmer@lmxac.org
    On 6/27/2022 9:40 AM, Sonnet Ireland via ALA Connect wrote:
    01000181a56465b9-b2f6a87d-e888-4416-833a-519155695747-000000@email.amazonses.com">
    I replied to the wrong thread, so I'm sharing it here... I'll admit that I abstained during a vote Saturday, but that was because I'm virtual... and...
    American Library Association

    ALA Council

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    Re: Votes to abstain
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    Sonnet Ireland
    Jun 27, 2022 8:40 AM
    Sonnet Ireland
    I replied to the wrong thread, so I'm sharing it here...
    I'll admit that I abstained during a vote Saturday, but that was because I'm virtual... and there was one resolution with amendments that got very confusing for me by the time of the vote.  At that point, I was unsure of what exact aspect we were voting on, and it wasn't repeated nor was it on the screen. But I did email governance after the meeting to suggest keeping it on the screen and having it repeated verbally immediately before taking the vote, and that helped a lot (for me) with today's meeting.

    ------------------------------
    Sonnet Ireland
    Library Director
    She/Her/Hers
    ------------------------------
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    Original Message:
    Sent: 6/27/2022 9:40:00 AM
    From: Sonnet Ireland
    Subject: RE: Votes to abstain

    I replied to the wrong thread, so I'm sharing it here...
    I'll admit that I abstained during a vote Saturday, but that was because I'm virtual… and there was one resolution with amendments that got very confusing for me by the time of the vote.  At that point, I was unsure of what exact aspect we were voting on, and it wasn't repeated nor was it on the screen. But I did email governance after the meeting to suggest keeping it on the screen and having it repeated verbally immediately before taking the vote, and that helped a lot (for me) with today's meeting.

    ------------------------------
    Sonnet Ireland
    Library Director
    She/Her/Hers
    ------------------------------


  • 11.  RE: Votes to abstain

    Posted Jun 28, 2022 09:38 AM
    That's a good point, Eileen! I think because the number was similar in many votes, that it's easy for us to assume it must be the same 7 or whatever.  But it's likely completely different groups of people that have conflicts for different reasons.  I hadn't thought about that.

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    Sonnet Ireland
    Library Director
    She/Her/Hers
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