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Decision No. 244

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November 10 1966
In Re: Request of the General Conference for a Declaratory Decision on the Effect of an Abstention from Voting on an Amendment to the Constitution

Digest of Case

The adoption of an amendment to the Constitution of the church requires a two-thirds majority of all members of the General Conference present and voting. An abstention from voting is not a vote; and one who abstains is not to be counted in determining whether the requisite two-thirds majority has been obtained.

Statement of Facts

The General Conference has voted that its members shall be recorded as (1) favoring, (2) opposing, or (3) abstaining, in the vote on the motion to approve the proposed Plan of Union with the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The General Conference has also requested the Judicial Council to render a declaratory decision on how those who are recorded as abstaining shall be counted in determining whether the motion of approval has obtained the required two-thirds majority of the General Conference present and voting. as mandated by the Constitution of The Methodist Church, Paragraph 10.2 of the 1964 Discipline. Jurisdiction Jurisdiction is grounded in Paragraph 911 of the 1964 Discipline which directs the Judicial Council to exercise such powers and duties as may be conferred upon it by the General Conference. Analysis The adoption of the Plan of Union with the Evangelical United Brethren Church is a constitutional amendment. According to the Constitution of The Methodist Church amendments require "a two-thirds majority of the General Conference present and voting." There are two types of vote: affirmative and negative. Abstention fromvoting is not voting. Therefore, in this instance an affirmative vote to adopt the proposed Plan of Union will require two-thirds of the sum of those who vote "for" and of those who vote "against." The number of abstentions recorded will have no legal effect.

Decision

In voting on the Plan of Union with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, a two-thirds majority of the members of the General Conference present and voting is required for approval. The recording of those who abstain from voting has no legal effect.

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