Reed's Parliamentary Rules
Reed's Parliamentary Rules
Chapter III -- Organization

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26. The Object of Organization.— The object which a body of men assembled together has in view when it organizes is to provide itself with means whereby it may express its opinions, facilitate and control its actions, and thereby accomplish the purpose of the meeting. The organization therefore should be adapted to the nature of the work to be done.

27. Simple Organization.— Assemblies called together for a single purpose, and intending to have but a single session, may be organized in a very simple way. Indeed, in practice, such assemblies are organized at the will of those who called them. Some one of those who signed the call, or some one designated by them, at the appointed time rises in his place and asks those present to please be in order. Thereupon he himself proposes that Mr. A. shall act as chairman, or he asks for nominations for the position. Usually there is no question made, but if there is, and other nominations are made, the question is put to the assembly by the person who has called the assembly to order upon the first nomination, and if that be rejected, then upon the second, and so on until a presiding officer is chosen. The second and third and other nominations are not in the nature of amendments, and are not entitled to be put first. After the presiding officer has been chosen, he takes his place facing the assembly and suggests the nomination of a secretary who is chosen in the same manner as the chairman. This is all the organization absolutely necessary. It is the custom to add lists of vice-presidents and to choose additional secretaries. Such an organization is all that is needed for ordinary voluntary meetings, like mass meetings and meetings preliminary to the formation of societies.

28. Double Organization.— The simple organization described above is proper for assemblies where there is no question about membership, but assemblies which are composed of members who have credentials and certificates of election, and whose membership may be contested, usually have a double organization, the first being merely preliminary in order to ascertain the membership, and the second a permanent one made by the members for the purpose of conducting the business intrusted to their care.

29. Double Organization, continued. Temporary.— This first or temporary organization may be made substantially as described in the paragraph on simple organizations. Usually, however, there is either some officer holding over for that purpose in legislative or in religious assemblies, or some chairman of the district, county, or State committee who calls the meeting to order and thus commences the organization. The first duty of the temporary organization is to ascertain the membership, and that is the first and only business in order. This is usually done throughout a committee, who examine the credentials and certificates of election and report to the assembly, and when that report is adopted the assembly is ready for its permanent organization.

30. Double Organization, continued. Permanent.— The permanent organization may be made by a vote of the assembly declaring the temporary organization permanent, or the assembly may proceed to the selection of other officers. This selection may be made by nomination and election, by resolution, or, which is the most usual course, on the report of a committee on permanent organization.

31. Legislative Bodies: United States House of Representatives.— It would be impossible within the limits of this book to describe the different methods of organization of legislative bodies which prevail in the different States, since the methods are various. A description, however, of the organization of the United States House of Representatives will give a very good idea of the general plan adopted.

The Clerk of the preceding House is required by statute to make up a list of the members-elect of the new House, and the certificate of election of each member is sent by the member to him. He then makes up the list of members, deciding the question of membership according to his judgment of the law and the evidence in each case where there is a dispute. On the first Monday in December, if no special session is called, he presents himself in the hall of the House, at the Clerk's desk, and at 12 o'clock, noon, calls the members to order. He then causes to be read the list prepared, and each member present answers as his name is called. After the roll-call is finished, if a quorum is present, the Clerk announces that the first business is the election of a Speaker, and asks for nominations. Each party then, by one of its members, nominates its candidate, and the Clerk requests four members to act as tellers. The roll is then called, each member announcing viva voce, as his name is called, his preference. The tellers then announce the result to the Clerk, and the Clerk to the House. If no candidate has received a majority, the roll is again called. If a Speaker has been chosen, the Clerk announces that fact and requests two members, one of each party, to conduct the Speaker to the chair.

Upon taking the chair the Speaker, after a short address of thanks, announces that he is ready to take the oath. Thereupon he has the oath administered to him by the member oldest in consecutive service. The Speaker then administers to the members the oath of office. The oath is administered to as many at a time as can conveniently stand in the open space in front of the Speaker's desk. After the members have taken the oath the Clerk and other officers are elected, usually by resolution, which can be amended. After the organization has been completed by the choice of all the officers, the House, by vote, notifies the Senate of its organization by message delivered by the Clerk. When the Senate has been organized the House and Senate, by a joint committee, notify the President that both houses are ready to proceed to business.