The roll-call vote: Part 2

The eight possible responses to a roll-call vote.

This is one in a series of articles on parliamentary procedure and how to conduct more effective organizational meetings. For a complete list in this series go to the Parliamentary Procedure resource.

The Michigan State University Extension article The roll-call vote: Part 1 was titled “Ordering a roll-call vote”. It discussed when the roll-call vote would be used by government and representative bodies and gave an example of how the chair should put the question of a roll-call vote to the assembly. Part 2 focuses on the eight possible responses members can make during the roll-call vote.

According to “Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition,” when the secretary calls each name alphabetically during a roll-call vote, the member may answer with any of the following responses:

  1. Aye
  2. Yes
  3. Yea
  4. No
  5. Nay
  6. Present
  7. Abstain
  8. Pass

Aye, yes and yea are all options for an affirmative vote. No or nay may be stated for a negative vote, and abstaining and passing are used to refrain from voting. Each member responds, and if they wish not to vote they may answer present or abstain. Pass is used when a member is not ready to vote, but wishes to be called on again after the roll has been completely called.

Changes of votes are also permitted before the result is announced. The secretary gives the final number of those voting on each side and the number answering present to the chair that will then announce the totals and declare the result.                     

The Michigan State University Extension Government and Public Policy team offers training for elected and appointed officials for improved effectiveness in several areas, including various public policy issues and effects of government programs, regulation, incentives, strategies and more. By working together with local elected and appointed officials, and interested citizens, MSU Extension is able to provide education on critical local and state issues. The MSU Extension Government and Public Policy team also offers professional training in parliamentary procedure. To contact an expert in your area, visit MSU Extension’s expert search system or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464). 

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