Saturday, 27 March 2010

Parliamentary Procedure and Electronic Publications

Anybody who knows me, knows that I am in favor of having just about everything in electronic format. This especially is true for material related to parliamentary procedure. Having material in electronic format allows you to do much more, more quickly.

For the various groups I work for, I have their bylaws etc. in electronic format. During the meeting, when a question comes up I do not have to shuffle through a lot of paper trying to find the right one and then do a visual search for the material I need. I already have it open on my computer and just do a simple search. I am there, often before the chair asks me, and can give him a quick answer. This makes the meeting move along. In addition, I have developed two programs to help.

The first of these, I have labeled as Motion Charts. With this program, I can show visually, what motions have been proposed, what is the immediate pending question, what motions can be proposed at that point, and what motions directly relating to the immediate pending question can be proposed. I can also put the motion in and keep track of who made it and what the vote on it was. Here are some screen shots from it.

This is not a free program as it took a lot of work to make it. If you are interested in having a copy, I do charge $50 for it. More than once, it has greatly helped a chair by showing him what motions could not be made even though a member was insisting that it was his right to offer an amendment to the main motion even though the motion to Refer was pending. Contact me at if you are interested in having a copy.

The other program is called Scripts (yes, I am not very original in naming things). I'll wait for the next blog to describe it.

An important warning. Using electronic documents is not for everybody. There are some people who are just not good at making use of a computer and they should shy away from using electronic documents. These types can do things with paper documents that I can't -- I envy them. But if you are even mildly competent at using a computer, I do believe that making use of one can really improve your productivity.

1 comment:

  1. Larry--
    Your first program sounds wonderful! I have often thought that something like that would be extremely helpful as a parliamentarian--especially if you could share a screen with the presiding officer!

    When you write, "I can also put the motion in and keep track of who made it and what the vote on it was," does that mean that you have optimized this for writing minutes after the meeting is over?

    This might have to be one of my next parliamentarian purchases. I'm looking forward to hearing about your other program.

    Jacob D. Gerber