Obtaining a Record Vote on the House Floor
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
he House of Representatives uses two kinds of votes in which the names and positions of
individual Members are recorded: (1) the recorded vote, used chiefly in Committee of the
Whole, though also in order in the House, and (2) the yea and nay vote, in order only in T
the House proper. Both kinds together are referred to as record votes or, more informally, as “roll
call votes,” and both are normally taken by electronic device. This report illustrates forms
commonly used for obtaining each kind of vote. For more information on the legislative process,
Except in the few cases when a yea and nay vote is required by the Constitution or House rules,
the chair, under Rule I, clause 6, initially puts a question to a voice vote, in a form like the
SPEAKER or CHAIR: The question is on (the motion, etc., identifying it). As many as
are in favor of the (question), say ‘Aye;’ as many as are opposed, say ‘No.’ In the opinion of
the Chair, the Ayes [Noes] have it. The Ayes [Noes] have it, and the (question) is agreed to
[not agreed to (or, for a bill, passed or not passed)].
On any question, the yeas and nays (in the House) or a recorded vote may each be requested only
once (but a pending request may be withdrawn and later renewed). In the House, if a request for a
recorded vote receives insufficient support, a yea and nay vote may be requested. Either request
must be made after the chair puts the question to a voice vote, and a Member should seek
recognition for the purpose before the chair announces the result (normally, when the gavel falls).
A request for the yeas and nays, in the House proper, must be supported by one-fifth of Members
present, whether or not a quorum is present. Under Rule XX, clause 6, however, if less than a
quorum of the House (218 Members) is present, a Member may say:
MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote [i.e., the voice vote] on the ground that a
quorum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum is not present.
SPEAKER [after counting]: A quorum is not present. Under the rule, the yeas and nays
are automatic. As many as are in favor will vote Aye; as many as are opposed will vote No.
The vote will be taken by electronic device.
If a quorum is present, or instead of seeking this automatic yea-and-nay vote, a Member may say:
MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, I demand the yeas and nays.
SPEAKER: The yeas and nays are demanded. As many as are in favor of taking this
vote by the yeas and nays will rise and remain standing until counted.
[After counting: EITHER:] (So many) have risen, a sufficient number, and the yeas and
nays are ordered. As many as are in favor will vote Aye ... [etc.].
[OR:] (So many) have risen, not a sufficient number, and the yeas and nays are refused.
The (question) is agreed to [not agreed to, etc.; i.e., the voice vote becomes final.]
In Committee of the Whole, the required second for a recorded vote is 25 (Rule XVIII, clause
MEMBER: Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote, and pending that I make the point
of order that a quorum is not present.
CHAIR [If a sufficient second rises]: Does the gentleman [gentlewoman] withdraw the
point of order?
MEMBER: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIR: (So many) have risen, a sufficient number, and a recorded vote is ordered. As
many as are in favor ... [etc.].
CHAIR [If no sufficient second rises, and no quorum is present]: A quorum is not
present, and Members will record their presence by electronic device. [In Committee of the
Whole, by prior announcement, the chair may terminate the call when a quorum has
responded (Rule XVIII, clause 6(c)).]
[After a quorum is established:] Pending is the demand of (Member) for a recorded
vote. As many as are in favor of taking this vote by a recorded vote will stand and remain
standing until counted.
[If a sufficient number rise, the chair puts the question as above. Otherwise:] (So many)
have risen, not a sufficient number, and a recorded vote is refused. The (question) is agreed
to [not agreed to, etc.; i.e., the voice vote becomes final].
A recorded vote in the House proper is obtained by similar proceedings addressed to the Speaker,
but the required support is one-fifth of a quorum (or a minimum of 44. Rule XX, clause 1(b)).
The point of order of no quorum generally would not be raised, because the Member would not
likely request the recorded vote if no quorum was present.
After a voice vote, any Member may obtain a division vote by demanding one (Rule XX, clause
A division is a standing vote, in which the number on each side is counted, but names are not
recorded. No second is required, and no minimum time is provided for Members to come to the
floor and vote.
A record vote usually begins immediately after it is ordered, at which point the voting machines
open and the bells ring. On some questions, the Speaker (Rule XX, clause 8) or Chairman of the
Committee of the Whole (Rule XVIII, clause 6(g)) is authorized to postpone and cluster record
votes. In that case any pending point of no quorum is considered withdrawn. It may be renewed,
if appropriate, when the vote occurs.
Richard S. Beth
Specialist on the Congress and Legislative Process