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20-40-60 Etiquette---Nominations, please!

Got an etiquette question? Email Helen at



By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: Yesterday in a meeting (of a social group whose membership exceeds 100), the majority of the single slate of officers presented to be voted on were on the nominating committee.

While I was thrilled with each of the women slated for office, I was appalled that most of them were on the committee and nominating themselves (this did not exceed my relief in not having to be one of those officers). It just felt wrong, and I felt an embarrassment for them which, obviously, they didn’t feel.

I checked "Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised," and it is okay for persons on the nominating committee to nominate themselves. I guess I was always in organizations whose bylaws did not permit that.

In the past, I and any other nominating committee members always resigned from the committee if we had to step up to the plate to be an officer because we couldn’t find anyone else. (I’ve always loved to be on nominating so I didn’t have to be an officer.)

Am I just in another world or time? It seems creepy or tacky or something. I thought the purpose of being on a nominating committee was to seek out qualified candidates among the membership? Did that ship sail?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: As long as someone is running, and will do a good job, then who cares how they were nominated. Takes some gumption to nominate yourself. More power to them!

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Different groups have different traditions - sometimes it's OK and common for members of a nominating committee to nominate themselves, and sometimes the club's processes and history frown on that process.

As you realized by looking up parliamentary procedure, it doesn't break any rules. But these days of busyness, it's often hard to find people who are willing to serve in volunteer positions, so if someone is willing to "volunteer" by nominating themselves, then that is worth a consideration.

However, a nominating committee's job is to find the best person to fit the position, so it seems like the group would want to make sure no one else was overlooked. In the long run, it's probably better for the volunteers to recuse themselves from voting on their own nomination or step off the committee. However, by being on the committee, they are showing their commitment to the group, which is another important qualification for serving as an officer.

HELEN'S ANSWER: It is great fun being on nominating committees and I have had the honor of being on a couple of them recently.

The nominating committee is charged with finding the best candidates for the offices. Most bylaws state that persons serving on the committee can be nominated without resigning from the committee. My personal feeling is that if the group is discussing someone within the group, and she is willing to do the job, that person should resign from the committee so the others can consider her qualifications in private.

All organizations need the support of the entire group, so the nominating committee should be about looking for representatives from the entire club and not just within their committee. The nominating committee members should know most of the active club members and understand the group's purpose and function.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Yvette Walker, The Oklahoman night news director and University of Central Oklahoma Media Ethics Chair: I applaud you for checking the rules first, and not relying on a knee-jerk reaction. And I don't know whether the committee members nominated each other, or actually put their own names in the ring. But you are right in saying there seems to be something uncomfortable about nominating the inner circle.

But is it, really?

Are these women qualified? Are they the ones doing all the work in the group (even though the membership exceeds 100)? Did anyone else step up?

Perhaps they should have recused themselves to receive the nomination, but the most important thing to consider is whether they will do a good job running the group.

Of course, you do have a choice if you don't like them.

Don't vote for them.

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›