How to Manipulate Motions for Passage or Defeat

Adapted from Demeter's Manual

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(Read across— ¶1 with ¶1, ¶2 with ¶2, etc.)

To Help Defeat a Motion
To Help Pass a Motion
1. Do not second it. Remain silent 1. Second it immediately. Say, "I second it."
2. Speak against it while it is before the body. 2. Speak in favor of it while it is before the body.
3. Vote against it. 3. Vote for it.
4. Move to postpone it indefinitely, to "kill" it. 4. Vote against postponing it indefinitely.
5. Amend it adversely to encumber or complicate it. 5. Amend it sensibly to perfect or improve it.
6. Move to refer it to a committee to delay it. 6. Vote against referring it, to achieve action now.
7. Move to postpone it to the next meeting to delay it. 7. Vote down all postponements that delay it.
8. Move the previous question to shut off debate on its good points. 8. Defeat the previous question so you can continue the debate.
9. Move to table it. 9. Vote against tabling it.
10. Move to recess to go after more votes. 10. Defeat recess so they may not go seeking more votes.
11. If their motion wins, move to reconsider it. 11. Vote against their motion to reconsider your motion.
12. If their successful motion remains unexecuted by a later meeting, then move to rescind it. 12. Execute motions promptly so that they may not be subject to rescission at a later meeting.
13. Move to adjourn, to prevent action on their motion at this meeting. 13. Vote down all motions to adjourn, so as to achieve adoption of your motion now.
14. Only votes win. Get your voters to the meeting. Require them to stay to the end, and to vote as you or another key leader will vote. 14. It is votes that win elections and other proceedings at meetings and conventions. Have your supporters there to help you with their votes.


What Motions to Use for the Greatest Efficiency

Adapted from Demeter's Manual

1. First of all, before proposing a main motion, give it some thought in order to make it as complete and comprehensive as practicable, so that it will require as few amendments as possible to perfect it, thus eliminating extra parliamentary proceedings and conserving the assembly's time; thus:

Don't say simply, "I move that we buy a desk." Say, preferably: "I move that we buy a new desk from Wilson and Company, at a cost not to exceed [so many] dollars, and that the House chairman be instructed to buy it in time for our next meeting." Be specific and comprehensive.

2. If a proposed motion is incomplete and imperfect, or is loose and ungrammatical, improve on it if you can by moving to amend the motion.

3. If it is complicated, to save time, move to refer it to a committee.

4. If it is worthless, useless, injurious, or ill-advised, move to postpone it indefinitely.

5. If the attendance is slim, it is wise to move to postpone it to the next meeting.

6. If the question is of great importance–such as a revision of thebylaws, or consideration of the sale of the clubhouse–in order to bring it before as many members as possible move to postpone it to the next meeting, and make it a special order for a particular hour.

7. If it is desired to transact some very urgent business ahead of a pending piece of business, move to suspend the rules; or move to lay the pending business on the table.

8. When the urgent business has been attended to, move to take the previous business from the table.

9. If If the hour is late, or the question has been sufficiently discussed and speakers are repetitive, to expedite business move the previous question to terminate the debate.

10. On the other hand, if it is apparent that many members are eager to discuss a question, to hear as many of them as possible, move to limit debate to one or two minutes a member.

11. If the question is contentious and the debate heated, to prevent disorder or disruption, move to adjourn; or, in mild form, to "cool off", move to take a recess.

12. If the question is of an inflammatory nature, such as politically, racially, religiously, or otherwise discriminatory, instantly move to lay it on the table; or move to postpone it indefinitely; or object to its consideration.

13. If you think the meeting erred in adopting or defeating some question, then, while the meeting is still in session, move to reconsider the action taken. (You must have voted with the prevailing side.)

14. On the other hand, if the meeting has adjourned, provided the action taken has not been carried out or executed between that meeting and the next, give previous notice to rescind that action at the next meeting.

15. If some urgent or worthwhile business has been passed in a quorumless meeting (one in which it was openly disclosed that a quorum was not present), or some beneficial action was taken by an officer or committee in good faith but without previous authority from the body, then at the next meeting move to ratify the action taken.

16. If a meeting takes outrageous action or transacted some unconscionable business injurious to the best interests of the organization, to rectify this malfeasance–provided the motion is proposed before that meeting has adjourned–move "to reconsider the action taken and have it entered in the minutes to be reconsidered at the next meeting."

17. If a situation appears hopeless, with neither side yielding to or heeding reason (whether from sheer obstinacy or in good faith), or the obstacles to a final and fitting decision loom insurmountable, or the mission and duty of the assembly are destined to fail, or are seemingly unaccomplishable or unrealizable, in a last attempt to save the situation, lead the assembly in prayer and try business again. [In the I.W.W. a song might be more appropriate.]

18. To prevent hopeless deadlocks, vote to appoint a co-equal committee from each faction, then a chairman acceptable to both factions, and bind the assembly in advance by a motion to accept their majority report as decisive and final by arbitration.

Who should propose the above steps? The question might be asked: Who is supposed to suggest or propose the steps enumerated above for the efficient transaction of the assembly's business? There is but one answer–you! It is your organization and your duty to be vigilant at meetings and conventions and to be consistently aware of what transpires therein and to take the initiative in proposing the proper steps or proceedings. Do not sleep on your rights. When you do, you forfeit them.