Does Parliamentarian’s Vote Negate D30A Delegate Election?

Rules of the Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee call into question the legitimacy of the recent election for Maryland Delegate 30A. Photo from Facebook page of MD Senator Sarah Elfreth

Did the newly appointed D30A Delegate only receive 6 Votes and not the required 7?

The Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee “D30A Appointment” press release on April 17, 2020 states, “7 votes were required to win the nomination” of Maryland State Delegate. The press release lists the names of seven Committee Members that voted for Dana Jones: James Estepp (D21), Christine Davenport (D31), Harry Freeman (D31), Dawn Merino (D31), Andrea Horton (D32), Dejah Williams (D32), and Noah Stewart (D33).

There exists a Rule in the Committee’s Bylaws that says, “The Parliamentarian is not a member of the for the purposes of voting.” 

Article VI. Section 5.3 of the Committee’s Bylaws were amended and adopted by the Committee on January 10, 2019 and state the Committee determined their Parliamentarian is a non-voting member of the Committee. 

The Committee’s Parliamentarian, Dejah Williams (D32), was appointed by Committee Chair, Thea Boykins-Wilson (D30) on December 12, 2019, according to the Committee’s draft Meeting Minutes, Section 1.3. 

However, the draft December Meeting Minutes where Williams was appointed were not approved by the Committee during their next Regular Meeting held on January 9, 2020, nor have they been approved to date.

Caption: (Excerpt from AACDCC draft Meeting Minutes of December 12, 2019)

The reason the January Meeting Minutes were not approved is that Parliamentarian Williams requested an amendment to the December 12 Meeting Minutes to add a Bylaws Amendment discussion when there was no Bylaw discussion on the agenda. Chair Boykins-Wilson referred Parliamentarian Williams’ request to the Rules and Bylaws Committee. (Both Boykins-Wilson and Williams are members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee.) 

(Expert of draft Meeting Minutes of December 12, 2019)

To date, the Committee has not voted to approve the draft Meeting Minutes of the December 12, 2019 Regular Meeting where Williams was appointed as Parliamentarian. In Parliamentary Law, the Committee must vote to approve Meeting Minutes from the previous meeting, or they have not approved any of the business stated in the Meeting Minutes.

In addition to the Meeting Minutes not being approved, the Committee’s draft December 12, 2019 Meeting Minutes are highly irregular and extraordinarily unorthodox. 

During the election of Vice-Chair Wayne Taylor, Section 4.1 of the Minutes state all twelve (12) presiding Committee members at this Regular Meeting voted unanimously on a “Motion to suspend the Bylaws” for a period of one (1) year, through December 11, 2020. This is an illegal dissolution of the AACDCC.

The Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee has been operating without Bylaws (outside of Parliamentary Law) for the past four months, to include the Appointment of Delegate (elect) Dana Jones, the former Vice-Chair, Wayne Taylor, and Parliamentarian Williams and others. (See Meeting Minutes excerpt at the end of this article).

When the Committee wishes to do something that it cannot do without violating its own rules, they may adopt a Motion to suspend the rules that interfere with a proposed action. Parliamentary Law requires Bylaws must include a provision for the suspension of a specific rule.

Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised governs this Committee. Robert’s allows bylaws to include a provision for suspending specific rules. Robert’s clearly states that Bylaws, as a whole, cannot ever be suspended. However, the Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee’s Bylaws do not include any provision to suspend any rule. And, the Committee has no authority to suspend their Bylaws in part nor entirety.

This is not the first time the Committee has approved a “Motion to Suspend the Bylaws”. The approved October 3, 2019 Meeting Minutes indicate that the Bylaws were suspended at that time as well. The Committee suspended Article V. Section 1.1., to extend the term of office of newly elected Chair, Thea Boykins-Wilson from one (1) year to 14-months. (Boykins-Wilson was the Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee Chair at the time of the Motion to Suspend.) 

The scope and volume of Bylaws violations stated in this Committee’s Meeting Minutes are exceptional and extraordinary, by any measure of Parliamentary Law.

The Anne Arundel Democratic Central Committee has violated their Bylaws, failed to comply with the rules of Parliamentary Law, and failed to comply with the Maryland Open Meetings Act and training requirements.

* (The Committee’s Chair, Thea Boykins-Wilson stated she holds a Maryland Open Meetings Act certification issued by the Maryland Association of Board Administrators. The Chair also had access to the Maryland Attorney General’s Open Meetings Act FAQs for meetings held during the COVID-19 Emergency. )

(Excerpt of approved Meeting Minutes of October 3, 2019, Regular Meeting)

This article is part of an ongoing investigation of the AACDCC nominating process by Arundel Patriot journalists.

Author Carmen Skarlupka is Navy Veteran and she is certified by the Maryland Attorney General in the Open Meetings Act.

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