USS adopted new Voting Rules for Political Statements and Budget Requests in November 2008. These rules are intended to assure that USS passes policies supported by a large consensus of the Senators. In practice, the rules ensure that most important measures must pass a nearly unanimous vote.
To ensure this supermajority, an absolute vote of: 75% of all qualified members is required to pass an amendment; 60% of all qualified members is required to pass a special motion; and 51% of all qualified members is required to pass a regular motion. This is not just a majority of those at a meeting–it is a majority of all Senators, whether present or not. If not enough Senators are present, the USS President is instructed to email them for their votes as explained below.
Most proposals brought by students will be Special Motions. Special motions include: Political statements, changes to an established annual or semester budget, or funding proposals when no established budget exists. (All other proposals, such as internal senate policies, or action on student issues, are regular motions.)
To pass a Special Motion (e.g. for Political Statements, or Funding Requests), following debate on the Motion, a vote will be taken. Only elected Senators may vote. Passing a Special Motion requires a 60% vote of all Senators whether present at a meeting or not — this currently requires 11 yes votes from Senators. If there are not 11 yes votes present at the meeting, absent members may add their votes to the vote tally within 48 hours of the end of the meeting. In that case, USS minutes report that said Senators “voted by internet.” (“Proxy voting” was eliminated, since Senators may now vote afterward if their votes are required.)
Since quorum was eliminated and passage now requires 60% of all Qualified Members to vote, USS needed a procedure to suspend members who routinely do not participate in Senate affairs; otherwise it would not be possible to pass anything. Therefore, the new rules specify that USS may suspend a Senator from the Qualified Voter Total for voting purposes if the member misses three consecutive USS meetings. This does not expel them from the Senate, because suspended members will be reinstated to the total if they subsequently attend a meeting.
These rules were adopted as an amendment in November 2008 and became USS Constitution Article XII.