Board Voting While Board Member Out of the Room
Q: A board member left the room for a few minutes when the board was voting on the agenda items. During her absence the board president would cast a vote of abstention for the board member who had left the room. This occurred on about 4 items. When the board member returned she noticed the votes but said nothing. Is this not a violation of the Brown Act? If so, would you please direct me to the proper place in the act so I may read about it?
A: As long as a quorum of the board was present and voted and her vote was not needed to break a tie, it does not appear that the Brown Act would require the board member to vote. And assuming the board member was aware of the votes that would be held in her absence, and aware that the board president had listed the member as abstaining from a vote on the matters that were voted on during her absence from the room, it would not appear to violate the Brown Act. And even if the president and the board member had conferred in advance about the president casting a vote of abstention on her behalf while she was out of the room, that would not violate the Brown Act unless the discussions involved “a majority of the members of the” board. 216 Sutter Bay Associates v. County of Sutter, 58 Cal. App. 4th 860, 877 (1997).