FYI: Conference Basics

  • What are resolutions and how do they work?
  • Who can vote?
  • How are delegates selected?
  • What About Parliamentary Procedure?

  • by Sarah Stapleton-Gray, Internet and LAN Manager

    Thinking of going to the National Conference in July? Perhaps you've never been before and are wondering how the whole thing works. Here is some background:

    What are resolutions and how do they work?

    Resolutions are the heart and soul of NOW conferences; the resolutions passed by conference delegates form the basis of organizational policy. A resolution might say, for example, that NOW should support an action, work on particular legislation or launch an organization-wide campaign.

    The issue hearings are divided by issue or topic, and, for example, all of the resolutions on violence against women will be considered at one issue hearing. Several resolutions brought by activists may share a common thread and could be combined. You may bring your ideas in almost any form, but it's helpful to have some concrete, written proposals about what you want NOW activists to do, and what you feel would be persuasive information for the body to consider when voting on the resolution. Each issue hearing can only send two resolutions for consideration by the conference body, so consensus building and compromise is critical.

    Resolutions also may be submitted outside of the issues hearings process by circulating and presenting to the Resolutions Committee petitions signed by 250 NOW members registered at the Conference.

    Resolutions must be in a specific format (see the Conference program book or . You can also look at recent NOW conference resolutions at our Conference web page: .

    Who can vote?

    Only delegates whose dues are received at least 90 days before the Conference (this year's deadline is 4/3/99) can vote in the plenary sessions, although all NOW members are entitled to speak in issue hearings and on the floor of the conference. There is no proxy voting.

    How are delegates selected?

    A packet of credentialing materials is sent to chapters each year, telling them the number of delegates they're entitled to, based on their membership 120 days prior to the conference. Also included in the packet are all the forms and information chapters need to pre-credential their delegates for the conference. The forms must be returned to the Conference's Credentials Chair at the National Action Center (as described in the instructions) with the chapter's delegates' names and membership information. If you are planning to attend the conference as a delegate from your chapter, please remind the chapter president to send these materials in advance to save you time and delays at the conference.

    At-large members (those members who are not members of a chapter) are also entitled to representation at NOW's national conferences. At-large members at each state's conference are entitled to elect national conference delegates in the same proportions as the chapters.

    National officers, National Board members, and State Coordinators/Presidents are also voting delegates at the National Conference.

    Chapters that don't fill all their delegate "slots" are welcome to allow members who come to the conference without delegate status to represent their chapter as a voting delegate. Generally, chapters will ask members filling their delegate "slots" to advance (or at least support) proposals the chapter supports. Often chapters that are geographically very distant from the conference location have extra delegate slots, as do chapters in large metropolitan areas. Chapters should discuss disposition of delegate openings they may not use, and should have delegates bring On Site Credentialing forms to the conference that have been signed in advance by the Chapter President.

    What about Parliamentary Procedure?

    Our business meetings or Plenary Sessions are governed by Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised. Don't worry about knowing these rules in advance - there's always an easy guide to floor proceedings printed in the conference program book, and people knowledgeable in parliamentary procedure are on-call at all times during the meeting sessions to answer any questions you may have. You can also read about it beforehand online at our htttp:// page.

    For more background, you can read the NOW bylaws at:

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