A motion is a formal request or proposal for the board to take action. Motions usually come from two major sources, committee reports and director recommendations, but board members may make motions at any time in accordance with the parliamentary guide. To make a motion, you simply address the chairperson and say, “I move that...” and state the action you wish the board to take. Most motions require that another board member support the request for action by seconding the motion.
Once the motion is seconded, it is restated by the chairperson. The board then begins discussion of the motion. Some motions, such as the motion to adjourn, do not require discussion. By requiring a motion on an issue prior to discussion, the board focuses discussion on agenda items only and stays on track.
After a motion is made and seconded, there should be plenty of time to discuss all the pros and cons of the issue. At the same time, the chairperson and all board members must work to keep the discussion moving towards a decision.
Once the motion has been discussed thoroughly, the chairperson will call for board members to vote on the motion. You may be asked to vote by saying “aye” (yes) or “nay” (no) in a voice vote, by a show of hands or in a roll-call vote. Your vote will be recorded in the minutes.
Abstaining on a motion before the board is appropriate only when you have a conflict of interest pertaining to the issue before the board. Otherwise, you are appointed to express an opinion on the issues and abstaining expresses no opinion.
Once the vote is taken, the chairperson will declare that the motion passes or fails. Upon completion of an item on the agenda, the chairperson moves on to the next agenda item.