A Guide to Voting on the House Floor

There are four types of votes that occur in the House of Representatives. They are voice, division, yea and nay, and record votes. A voice vote refers to members calling out ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ whenever a question is put in the House. The Speaker will determine the outcome of the vote by the volume of each response. In some instances, the Speaker can say a variation on a voice vote, which means that the question is adopted.

A division vote may be demanded by any member after a voice vote has been taken. First, the members in favor will stand and be counted. Next, those opposed will stand and be counted. A division vote will show only vote total and will not provide a record of how individual members voted on the question.

Under automatic yea and nay votes, a member may choose to “object on the ground that a quorum is not present and make a point of order that a quorum is not present.” The actual vote can then be determined for the presence of a quorum as well as the outcome of that particular pending question.

A record vote will be taken if 1/5 of quorum, which is 44 members, stand and support the request. Just as in the case with a yea and nay vote, a record vote will be taken by the electronic voting system.

Both voice votes and division votes will be taken in the Committee of the Whole. In order to obtain a record vote, 25 members must support the request of a member for a record vote. If there are fewer than 100 members present, which is the minimum number required for a quorum of the Committee of the Whole, a member may choose to demand a record vote.

The minimum amount of time for a record vote or quorum call is 15 minutes. This applies to both the House and the Committee of the Whole. The Speaker does have the authority to postpone and then cluster certain votes as well as to reduce the time to five minutes after an initial 15 minute vote. Cluster voting allows for sequential recorded votes on a series of measures or amendments that the House has completed debating at an earlier time. The Speaker retains the option of reducing the minimum amount of time for the second and subsequent votes in series of five minutes each.



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