Bylaws are fundamental rules drawn up by organizations to govern their internal affairs and their dealings with members and others. They include rules that the organization considers so important that they cannot be changed without prior notice to members and the vote of a specified majority.
League bylaws define the League’s purpose and how it organizes to further that purpose. They are meant to protect the organization and to provide an operating framework.
First Three Articles
The first three articles of the national League bylaws set forth the League name, present the League’s purpose and policy, and define membership in the League. The first three articles of all local and state League bylaws must be consistent with those of the LWVUS in order to define and maintain the unity of the organization and the powers and privileges of members.
Leagues may decide what to include in the remaining articles of their bylaws, provided they reflect democratic procedures. Normally, they contain provisions covering the organization’s officers, board of directors, financial administration, nominations and elections, program, business meetings, parliamentary authority (i.e., Robert’s Rules of Order), and method of amending the bylaws themselves.
Boards should review their bylaws from time to time to make certain they are still appropriate based on changed circumstances or actions taken at state or national League conventions. Before starting the amendment process, a League should consider whether the desired outcome could be achieved by another method (such as a board motion, annual meeting/convention vote, or development of a new policy or procedure). Any amendments to the first three articles that are made at a national convention must automatically also be made to local and state League bylaws; approval at an annual meeting/convention is not required to make the change (but the change should be announced).
The national League bylaws and sample bylaws for local and state Leagues, as well as guidelines for bylaws, are included under the Policies, Bylaws and Guidelines section of League Essentials in the Members section of the League Web site www.lwv.org.