businessmen with briefcase jumping in air in five directions; parliamentary concept; running for multiples offices

Can a Person Run for More Than One Office at the Same Time?

So, while you might not be the sort who ever even thinks about running for office—let alone two at a time, there are people who do. There are also people who are sought after to run for more than one office because they are highly-respected. They’re not always ambitious overachievers.  In fact, they may have never run for office before. Regardless, this is a common parliamentary procedure question and important for leadership, nominees, and all group members to know going into an election season.

Can the same person run for two or more offices at once? Your instinct might tell you that the answer is “no,” but for organizations that follow Robert’s Rules, the answer is “yes.”

Here’s the catch: a person can run for more than one office at the same time but can’t hold both offices at the same time. And when nominations are called for, the process should work like this…

Step 1: Nominate any person for any office they are qualified to fill.

Maybe you think that Go-Getter George is the best thing that ever happened to your organization. I mean, there is just no question that he could be president, or secretary, or treasurer…. All the things. Well, if that’s the case, then go ahead and nominate him for all the offices he’s qualified to fill. Robert’s Rules says that’s fine.

A quick word about strategy here—(yes, part of a professional parliamentarian’s expertise is guiding groups on strategy).

Nominating George may be a smart move: (1) It could speak to George’s perceived capabilities that you’re presenting him as a good option for multiple leadership positions. His repeated listing on the ballot would bring him to the attention of the group. And (2) by putting George’s name forward as a potential candidate for more than one office, you could have more hope that he might be elected for at least one of them.

But there’s a flip side to consider: It’s possible George could be elected for none of the offices—disappointing, of course. It may be wiser to focus your strategy and ensure that your top-notch, handpicked candidate is elected to the office where you believe he can have the greatest impact.

Regardless, you should think carefully about whether it’s prudent to nominate the same person for multiple offices.

Step 2: Make a ballot that lists the candidate next to each office she’s been nominated to fill. 

The most efficient way to manage a ballot election is to place all of the open offices on one ballot. In other words, make one ballot that lists president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer on the same piece of paper, instead of four separate ballots with a separate office on each.

This principle is true (and it still works) even if you have the same person running for more than one office. Just list that person next to each office that he’s been nominated to fill.

Step 3: Tally the ballots and determine which office the candidate will hold.

Once the voting is complete, tally the ballots and determine if Go-Getter George was elected to more than one position. (Side note: As with all elections, check your bylaws ahead of time to confirm the number needed to win an election—usually at least a majority of the votes cast.)

If George has secured the number of votes needed for election to more than one office, don’t fret—there’s an easy plan A and plan B.

  • Plan A: If George is present in the audience, he gets to choose which office he wants to hold among those he has won.
  • Plan B: If George is not present on voting day, the group gets to decide by another separate vote which office it wants Go-Getter George to hold among those he has won. On that vote, no other candidates are listed—just George and just the offices he has been elected to.

To sum things up, Robert’s Rules allows groups to nominate the same person to more than one office. It just prohibits that person from actually serving in both offices at the same time.

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