Reed's Parliamentary Rules
Reed's Parliamentary Rules
Chapter XIV -- Methods of Voting
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229. Methods of Voting.— There are three methods of voting common in assemblies in the United States:
        First, by sound.
        Second, by rising.
        Third, by yeas and nays.

230. By Sound.— When the presiding officer puts the question to the assembly, after stating it or causing it to be read by the clerk, he uses this form of words, “As many as are in favor say aye,” and then after the affirmative has been heard, “As many as are opposed say nay.” Thereupon he determines by volume of voice whether the ayes have it or the noes. He announces according to the fact. If he is in doubt, or if any member calls for a division, the rising vote is taken.

231. Rising Vote.— When the division is demanded, either by the Chair or a member, the presiding officer says to the assembly, “As many as are in favor of (as the question may be) will rise and remain standing until they are counted.” After the count he then says, “The ayes will be seated and the noes will rise.” Unless there is some other arrangement made by the rules, the presiding officer counts as well as announces the vote.

In many legislative assemblies, where the members' seats are permanent and in divisions, a permanent teller or monitor is appointed for each division, who announces the vote in his division, which announcement is repeated by the Chair so as to avoid error, and then taken down by the clerk. The total result is then announced by the Chair.

232. Yeas and Nays.— The Constitution of the United States, and probably those of all the States, provide that upon demand of one-fifth of the members the vote shall be taken by yeas and nays. When there is no constitutional provision or special rule, the assembly by majority can order a vote by yeas and nays.

The method of voting by yeas and nays is as follows: The presiding officer says, “As many as are in favor of (as the question may be) will, when their names are called, say aye, and those opposed no.” The clerk, having an alphabetical list of members, calls each by name in regular order, and as each member replies his vote is counted. After the first name has been called the call can not be interrupted, even by the arrival of the hour appointed for the adjournment of the assembly. A convenient method of noting such a vote is to have two columns after the names, one for yeas and the other for nays, and to write in the appropriate column the number of the vote; that is, the first aye is noted by the figure 1 in the “aye” column, the second by the figure 2. In like manner in the “no” column, the first no is noted by the figure 1, and the second by the figure 2, and so on. By this means the number at the end of the column will give the ayes and noes at a glance. If the roll or list is twice gone over, and the names of those not voting are called a second time a dash in the appropriate column for each vote will enable the result to be readily reached. The vote is usually recapitulated, if demanded, by reading each name and the vote given.

Note.— In the French Chamber of Deputies there is still another method of voting. On the desk of each member are two piles of tickets, one white and the other blue, having printed on each the name of the member. An urn is carried up and down the aisles, and each member deposits a white ticket for yes or a blue ticket for no. Each ticket with the name of the member is announced. Proxy voting is said to be a custom. The appel nominal, still another method of voting, requires each member to present himself on the tribune and there deposit his vote. In England the division requires the members to go into separate lobbies, and as they return their names are checked by clerks, and thus what is substantially a yea and nay vote is obtained.

233. In the House of Representatives.— At any time before the question of yeas and nays is pending, or after it has been refused, a vote may be had by tellers upon the demand of at least one-fifth of a quorum. Thereupon the two tellers appointed by the Chair take their places facing each other in front of the main aisle, in the open space before the Speaker's desk, and those in the affirmative pass between, and then those in the negative, and are counted, the number being announced at the end of each count. Then the stragglers pass between, each being announced by the tellers. The movement in passing between is from the Speaker's desk toward the rear of the hall. When all have voted the Chair announces that the tellers have reported, and states the result.

The vote on the question of demanding the yeas and nays is always taken by a rising vote, unless on a motion tellers are ordered. On a demand for yeas and nays a majority can reconsider. (See Sec. 204.)

Tellers are appointed, two in number, to represent the opposing views, one of them being for the affirmative and the other for the negative. The rising vote and the yeas and nays are taken as described in previous paragraphs, the rising vote being counted by the Speaker.

234. Other Methods of Voting.— Instead of a rising vote, as already described, the presiding officer may call for a show of hands, asking first those in the affirmative to hold up their right hands, and next those in the negative. It is also often a matter of convenience to take the vote by asking those in the affirmative to take their places in that part of the hall at the right of the chairman, and those in the negative to take their places on the left. Where the assembly is not seated, one or the other of these methods must be resorted to.

235. Decisions of Points of Order, etc., During Divisions.— While a division is going on all questions as to who has the right to vote and as to members being excused from voting must be decided by the presiding officer without appeal and without debate, although he may, if he chooses, ask advice, which members must give sitting. After the division is over the assembly may correct any error made by the presiding officer. The presiding officer is vested with this temporary power because divisions upon divisions might lead to infinite confusion.