FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-09-00


November 30, 2000

Wendie Summers
Deputy Clerk
Lynchburg City School Board
Lynchburg, VA

The staff of the Freedom of Information Advisory council is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your email dated November 21, 2000.

Dear Summers--

You have asked how to resolve conflicting requirements between the Freedom of Information Act and Robert's Rules of Order related specifically to voting by a public body. Section 2.1-343.2 provides in pertinent part:

Unless otherwise specifically provided by law, no vote of any kind of the membership, or any part thereof, of any public body shall be taken to authorize the transaction of any public business, other than a vote taken at a meeting conducted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. No public body shall vote by secret or written ballot, and unless expressly provided by this chapter, no public body shall vote by telephone or other electronic communication means. (Emphasis added)

The referenced section is clear on its face and prohibits voting by secret or written ballot. Robert's Rules of Order does not have the force and effect of law and is used at the discretion of a public body in resolving questions that may arise in parliamentary procedure encountered during the course of a meeting. Therefore, any conflict must be resolved in favor of the law.

Thank you for contacting this office. I hope that I have been of assistance.