3. Walking quorums.
The requirements of the open meetings law also extend to walking quorums. A "walking quorum" is a
series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in sufficient number to reach a quorum. Showers, 135 Wis. 2d at 92, quoting Conta, 71 Wis. 2d at 687. In Conta, the Court recognized the danger that a walking quorum may produce a predetermined outcome and thus render the publicly-held meeting a mere formality. Conta, 71 Wis. 2d at 685-88. The Court commented that any attempt to avoid the appearance of a "meeting" through use of a walking quorum is subject to prosecution under the open meetings law. Conta, 71 Wis. 2d at 687. The
requirements of the open meetings law thus cannot be circumvented by using an agent or surrogate to poll the
members of governmental bodies through a series of individual contacts. Such a circumvention "almost
certainly" violates the open meetings law. Clifford Correspondence, April 28, 1986; see also Herbst
Correspondence, July 16, 2008 (use of administrative staff to individually poll a quorum of members regarding
how they would vote on a proposed motion at a future meeting is a prohibited walking quorum).
The essential feature of a "walking quorum" is the element of agreement among members of a body to act
uniformly in sufficient numbers to reach a quorum. Where there is no such express or tacit agreement, exchanges
among separate groups of members may take place without violating the open meetings law. The signing, by
members of a body, of a document asking that a subject be placed on the agenda of an upcoming meeting thus
does not constitute a "walking quorum" where the signers have not engaged in substantive discussion or agreed
on a uniform course of action regarding the proposed subject. Kay Correspondence, April 25, 2007; Kittleson
Correspondence, June 13, 2007. In contrast, where a majority of members of a body sign a document that
expressly commits them to a future course of action, a court could find a walking quorum violation. Huff
Correspondence, January 15,2008; see also 1-01-10, January 25,2010 (use of email voting to decide matters fits
the definition ofa "walking quorum" violation of the open meetings law).