Remote Participation in Meetings

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Frayda Bluestein

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A local government board member will not be able to attend an upcoming meeting. Can she participate by calling in? Regular blog followers may recall that I have written  several posts on this topic. With the benefit of your comments and some additional research, I’ve replaced those blog posts with a Local Government Law Bulletin addressing this question. Go here to download Local Government Law Bulletin #133: Remote Participation in Local Government Board Meetings

This bulletin addresses the following key points:

  • North Carolina law is unclear on the question of whether a member of a city or county elected board can be considered present for purposes of quorum if he or she is not physically present.
  • The legal risk of allowing remote participation is low if there are enough members who are physically present to constitute a quorum, or if the meeting involves only discussion and no action is taken. As a practical matter, even if  a vote is taken, the risk of a challenge is minimal unless the remote participant casts the deciding vote.
  • A board member does not have a right to participate remotely. It is up to the board to decide whether and under what circumstances to allow it.
  • Appointed boards are not subject to the same legal limitations as are elected boards, so local governments have clear authority to provide for remote participation for these types of boards.
  • Local governments that allow remote participation should develop policies to address the circumstances under which such participation is allowed, as well as the process and rules that will apply. Examples and key components of such policies are discussed in the bulletin.

To peruse other bulletins or publications that might be of interest, visit the School’s Online Bookstore.


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