As I understand it, a quorum is the minimum necessary for business to get done in a meeting. My understanding is that a quorum merely prevents business from taking place without meeting the required number of members present. It is not an grant of authority for things to take place when you do happen to meet the minimum threshold.

For example, the quorum may be set at a majority of members. But without a rule stipulating that a majority vote wins, a quorum is not sufficient to tell you whether or not a majority can carry a motion. To go further, the quorum certainly does not override any requirement that a supermajority carry any motion.

In sum, my understanding is that a quorum shouldn't be read to explain what number is necessary to carry a motion. My understanding is that a quorum merely denotes the number required for any business to take place at all.

1 Answer 1


Quorum defines the minimum number of members present in order to conduct business. Once quorum is met, members may make motions and the assembly may conduct business.

Now your question concerns the minimum required for passing a motion, and you are correct some motions require more than majority, such as 2/3 vote.

The problem in your analysis is that rules of procedure assume that the majority or supermajority is met from the members present and voting, not from the total number of members.

Let me show you some examples so you can fully understand.

Let's say there's an assembly with 21 members, with the standard quorum requirements of majority of the members.

The minimum number of people required for quorum show up, which is 11 (more than half is majority). In order to pass a motion, you only need majority of the members present and voting. That typically means 6 people. However, let's say 2 members abstain from the vote or are present at the meeting but don't record their vote. Then a vote can pass 5-4. Quorum is met and a majority of the members present and voting, voted for the the motion.

Similarly 2/3 votes are counted from members present and voting.

There is an exception to this. If the organizations bylaws say that it takes a majority of the members to pass a certain motion, then the motion must pass by the majority of the total number of members in the organization, which is 11 in this case. Thus all 11 people present in the room would have to vote for it.

  • Where are you getting this information that you only need the number present and voting to pass a motion? Is that built into the definition of a quorum? You see, I have a problem where no bylaws have been written except there is one statutory provision which talks about a quorum.
    – Mr. A
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 18:10
  • 1
    @Mr.A It's the standard rule for deliberative assemblies. If you think about it, without the rule there's no point in having a quorum requirement unless the quorum is more than a majority.
    – cpast
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 18:16
  • I've got an assembly where the quorum is a majority of members serving. That means the board could be up to 9, but only has 6, and in one case only 4 met. Perhaps the quorum was met. But there's no rule specifying the number required to pass a motion. What I am asking is, "does the quorum define anything about how to pass a motion, or is it all about how much you need to have a meeting take place?"
    – Mr. A
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 18:35
  • Quorum defines the number of members needed to vote on something. Different rules define the number of votes you need to pass a specific motion.
    – Viktor
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 18:36
  • 1
    @Mr.A "perhaps the quorum was met." What do you mean "perhaps"? Four is more than half of six, so the quorum was met. To pass something at that meeting, the vote would have to be 3-1 or 4-0. Note in the state law "present at the time of the vote" is different from "voting"; this would mean that 3 votes are required even if some abstain. A vote of 1-0 with 3 abstentions would not pass. But if the bylaws say "a majority of the members voting" then the abstentions would not count, and 1-0 would pass.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 22:46

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