CNN's Louie Gohmert, who's refused to wear a mask, tests positive for Covid-19 includes the following:

A number of lawmakers tested positive for the virus in the early days of the pandemic, while others had to quarantine after being exposed to the virus.

The House has taken precautions to limit the spread of the virus, including instituting a form of remote voting for members who are unwilling or unable to travel. Members who are physically present now vote in alphabetical groups to limit how many people are on the House floor at the same time. Members have also adopted virtual meeting technology for many House hearings.

I'd thought that there was an unbroken tradition of requiring physical presence in the chamber to vote for both the House and Senate, and I was surprised to read this and am still not convinced that it is true.

Question: Does the US House of Representatives really now allow "remote voting" from home or other remote locations? If so, how is this done, how is it verified? Does the Senate now allow this as well?


1 Answer 1


Yes, it was a change made back on May to deal with the risk of the COVID-19 Pandemic. If a member cannot or does not want to travel to Washington can designate a proxy to cast their vote in accordance to their exact, direct instructions. The accuracy of the votes is ensured by the Representatives and/or their staff who are watching the session remotely. As CNN reported on May 26th:

Any member who wants to cast a vote by proxy must first send a signed letter to the House clerk designating a proxy by granting authorization to the member they wish to vote on their behalf. A member can revoke or alter that designation at any time.

Then, whenever a vote is scheduled in the House, the member who plans to use a proxy must communicate via written instruction how they want their vote to be recorded to the member serving as their proxy.

Proxies are required to receive exact instruction from any member using them to cast votes remotely.

Any member can serve as a proxy for up to only 10 other lawmakers. Members voting remotely, or their staffs, will need to monitor the House floor during votes and be ready to quickly provide exact instruction to their proxies in the event of any unscheduled votes that may crop up.

This measure is temporary, and needs to be renewed every 45 days for as long as the public health emergency remains:

The rules change authorizes temporary implementation of remote voting by proxy in the event of a public health emergency due to the coronavirus, as well as remote committee proceedings.

The authorization for remote voting and remote committee work will remain valid for a 45-day period, after which it can be extended if the public health emergency persists.

The GOP controlled Senate, has taken some steps to allow remote participation, but has not authorized remote voting:

The Senate, even more reluctant to abandon its storied traditions than the House, has taken a more conservative approach. It has begun to allow senators and even witnesses to participate in hearings remotely by videoconference. But Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, rebuffed a bipartisan push for emergency remote voting and has reconvened senators in the Capitol to something approximating normal business.

  • 1
    Thanks for the speedy yet thorough answer! I totally missed this.
    – uhoh
    Jul 30, 2020 at 2:42

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