0

This could be a good defense against coups because representatives and senators could vote on issues even if a violent group took over the Capitol.

5
  • 3
    Are you specifically asking about Zoom, or do video telephony, telephones, or other ways to pass messages, like letters, also count?
    – Peter
    Jul 9 at 8:47
  • 2
    Are you interested in the current house and senate rules of procedure, or are you asking whether either house could establish rules allowing it?
    – phoog
    Jul 9 at 10:37
  • 1
    Coups by definition are extralegal in nature so no it wouldn't be a good defense. Laws don't matter if you can't enforce them. The reason Free France (French govt in exile in UK during ww2) didn't have control of France isn't because zoom wasn't invented yet.
    – eps
    Jul 9 at 15:10
  • Specifically for the issue of certifying electoral votes, that must be done in person. "The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates..." Jul 10 at 2:11
  • "This could be a good defense...": There is already a lower-tech traditional defense against occupation of the capitol, namely meeting in person in another location.
    – phoog
    Aug 31 at 13:46
5

Currently, there are no provisions in the House or Senate rules that allow members to vote remotely. As the House Rules Committee concluded, it's unclear whether this is possible through a rule change. From the CRS report – Constitutional Considerations of Remote Voting In Congress:

As the House Rules Committee recently put it, “remote voting is an untested principle” that “[i]f challenged ... would be a novel question for a court” with “no guarantee of a favorable ruling affirming its constitutionality.”

The concept of "remote voting" has been somewhat implemented in the House last year though it's more a form of proxy voting to be exact.

The House majority leader also mooted the idea of voting through Zoom, though that proposal has not gone anywhere.

Democrats seemed ready to contemplate even broader changes. In a separate letter to colleagues on Tuesday, Mr. Hoyer pushed to go further, making the case for voting and convening hearings through videoconferencing technology, like FaceTime or Zoom.

The Constitution allows each House of Congress to make its own rules and nothing in it explicitly forbids remote voting, or voting through Zoom for that matter. From the CRS report:

But while these provisions may support a conclusion that the Framers envisioned a physical meeting of Congress (as it was of course the only possible method of meeting at the time), none would appear to clearly bar remote voting.

However, the main problem surrounding remote voting is the idea of a quorum. From the same CRS report:

Perhaps the strongest argument against the constitutionality of remote voting is Article I, § 5’s requirement that a “quorum” of a majority of Members is necessary for either house “to do Business.” The quorum principle—that a certain number of members of a governing body be present at a given meeting for the body to exercise its powers—was well established in parliamentary practice by the time of the Constitutional Convention.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .