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Counting Votes When There Is an Abstention

May, 2017

Question: How do you count votes of a council or board member when there are abstentions among a city council or board of directors?

It's critical to know the reason for the abstention. 

If a board or council member is abstaining from a vote because of a disqualifying conflict of interest, it's as if that person is absent from the meeting and in fact, the person may step down from the dais and leave the room altogether. It may be if a quorum does not exist because of that abstention that the vote on a particular matter just can't even take place.

On the other hand, if a board member or council member abstains from a vote for any reason other than a disqualifying conflict of interest, their presence is nevertheless counted for purposes of establishing a quorum and a vote can occur, assuming that a quorum exists.


For more information, please contact:

Steven Miller

415-995-5831 Direct Phone
415-995-3426 Fax

Email Attorney


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