Procedures at the American Historical Association's Annual Business Meeting
To attend the annual business meeting, and therefore vote on AHA business, you must be a member of the AHA. If you plan to attend, please confirm in advance that your membership is up to date. The constitution and bylaws of the AHA provide a variety of ways to bring business before the annual business meeting.
- Reports and proposals from Council, officers of the Association, and Association committees bring business before the meeting. Motions directly related to those matters are in order.
- Council may place other business on the agenda.
- The business meeting may also consider resolutions and proposals submitted by a petition of the membership. These must meet criteria set in Bylaw 11(4)(a): They must be submitted by November 1, be signed by at least 100 members in good standing, and must deal “with a matter of concern to the Association, to the profession of history, or to the academic profession.” They cannot be more than 300 words in length and must be in parliamentary form. If a proposal meets these criteria, Council will put it on the agenda. It is out of order to move any resolution or proposal from the floor that has not conformed to these requirements.
- The business meeting may, however, suspend Bylaw 11(4), “except where otherwise provided in the constitution and bylaws.” The requirement that a resolution concern the affairs of the Association appears in Article 7 of the constitution and therefore cannot be suspended. The meeting can suspend Bylaw 11(4) only by a two-thirds vote. Another provision of Bylaw 11 states that any motion passed by a “division of the members” requires a quorum of 100 to have voted. (According to Robert's Rules of Order, a “division of the assembly” means anything other than a voice vote or a vote by a show of hands.) Robert's Rules indicates that such a division is the normal mode of voting on any measure that requires a two-thirds majority. Debate is restricted to the reasons for or against suspending the bylaw. Those reasons may not include the merits of the resolution itself. If the motion to suspend Bylaw 11(4) succeeds, the proposal will come to the floor for consideration.
- To ensure the fair and equitable consideration of all resolutions, the AHA Council may fix the duration of debate, although this provision of Bylaw 11(4) could itself be suspended. Passage requires a simple majority. However, if anyone calls for a division of the members, a quorum of 100 must be present and voting.
- Any member may move to instruct Council to place a subject on the agenda of the next business meeting. Passage requires only a majority vote.
- All debate is conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order.
After the Meeting
All measures passed by the business meeting come before the AHA Council, which can accept them, refuse to concur, or exercise a veto. Council may veto a measure if it believes it to be in violation of the AHA constitution, in violation of law, or if it believes the measure financially or administratively unfeasible. If Council refuses to concur in a measure, it must submit that measure to a majority vote of the entire membership, with proponents and Council provided an equal opportunity to set forth their positions.