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Official Opinion 94-17

Official Opinion 94-17

April 25, 1994
To: 

Commissioner
Department of Community Affairs

Re: 

Election of non-public board members by the Regional Development Center Board of Directors.

This is in response to your request for my opinion concerning the election of non-public board members of the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center Board. Specifically, you inquire whether a public board member's right to vote for a non-public board member is contingent upon being actually present at the time the vote is taken in a legal meeting.

This question is controlled by the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center by-laws. Georgia law provides that "[t]he manner of selecting such regional development center board members shall be as prescribed by its bylaws." O.C.G.A. § 50-8-34(b)(1). The Coastal Georgia RDC by-laws provide that "[i]n selecting the non-public representative, each member of the Board of Directors appointed by the governing authority of a county shall have one vote and each mayor in the county shall have one vote." Coastal Georgia RDC By-laws, adopted August 13, 1993, Article VI(1)(C).

The Coastal Georgia RDC by-laws are silent with respect to whether the right to vote is limited to the public members of the Board who are actually present at the time the vote is taken. However, the by-laws expressly provide that "[e]xcept as otherwise provided, all meetings of the board shall be conducted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order, as amended." Id. at Article VI(6)(B). The 1990 edition of Robert's Rules of Order provides, in pertinent part:

It is a fundamental principle of parliamentary law that the right to vote is limited to the members of an organization who are actually present at the time the vote is taken in a legal meeting. Exceptions to this rule must be expressly stated in the bylaws.

Robert's Rules of Order, § 44, 1990 ed.

Therefore, it is my official opinion that a Coastal Georgia RDC Board member's right to vote for a non-public Coastal Georgia RDC Board member is limited to those board members who are actually present at the time the vote is taken in a legal meeting.

Prepared by:

GRACE EVANS LEWIS
Senior Assistant Attorney General