How does voting work at Synod?

When Synod gathers on Nov. 21-24, it will consider two kinds of motions: those brought to the floor and canonical amendments that have been reviewed by the Diocesan Executive Council (D.E.C.).

Canon Stephen Kohner, secretary to Synod, said the 11 proposed canonical amendments had been received by the D.E.C. 60 days prior to Synod and have been forwarded to delegates. “When Synod convenes, there will be times in the schedule to deal with proposed canonical amendments,” he said.

Each resolution must be moved and seconded, with discussion to follow. After discussion, a yay-or-nay vote occurs. “There has to be a majority,” Kohner said. When the vote is tight and the result unclear, anyone can request a vote by orders, in which laity and clerics vote separately—though the result is still determined by simple majority of the whole. The purpose is to give a sense where each group stands and to “figure out how many votes are actually cast.”

In addition to proposed canonical amendments, delegates can write resolutions at Synod and forward to the resolutions committee formed to ensure motions neither conflict with diocese’s constitution and canons nor impact negatively on the diocese’s budget. “So there’s a team at Synod working quite diligently to come up with the proper wording.”

Once a motion of any kind is approved or defeated, Kohner explained, individual delegates are expected to respect the decision and move to the next legislative item.

As a technical point, the secretary said, the diocesan bishop must sign the “schedule of enactments”—the list of all motions that passed at Synod—before the gathering adjourns. This puts the passed motions into effect. The bishop, he says, is entitled to withhold assent from any motion on the list. The secretary said a decision to withhold assent would be quite unusual but noted the diocese’s constitution stipulates the possibility.

In addition to legislative matters, Synod will also vote on nominations. Nomination forms must be submitted to Kohner by 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 14; they then go to the Nominations Committee for review and creation of slates.

Kohner said Synod will consider nominations for the D.E.C., delegates to provincial synod, assistant secretary of Synod, registrar, and a lay member of the Cathedral Centenary Endowment Fund. Clergy will be voting for the Board of Triers.

Documents related to nominations, including the form and frequently asked questions, are available on the diocesan website. Kohner suggested delegates keep an eye on the website, as documents will be posted there as they become available.

For newcomers to Synod unfamiliar with any or all of these voting procedures, the bishop will hold an hour-long newcomers’ meeting before the official start of business so people can “get a sense of what to expect from Synod,” Kohner said. That review will cover, he said, “how motions work, how to vote, what happens if you want to make a resolution, and who to complain to when the coffee is cold.”

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