The US House of Representatives appear to be currently voting on retaining the current Speaker of the House in his position.

LIVE: The House is now voting on ousting Kevin McCarthy as speaker https://t.co/SoqMLSboxQ https://t.co/ANKfGPIuiE

— Bloomberg (@business) October 3, 2023

They appear to be doing this by responding yea or nah to a roll call.

Is this how every vote is done? It seems very time consuming.


2 Answers 2


No. There are several ways that Congress can conduct votes. From least to most time consuming:

  1. Unanimous consent. The Speaker says “If there is no objection, the motion will be adopted”, and waits a few seconds. If nobody says anything, the motion is adopted without a formal recorded vote.
  2. Voice vote. “All in favor? All opposed?” Loudest side wins. If there isn't a clear-cut majority, then a recorded vote can be requested.
  3. Voting machines. Each member walks over to a machine, sticks their ID card into it, and presses the "yea", "nay", or "present" button for their vote. This produces a record of who voted which way.
  4. Roll call.
  • 12
    @SteveMelnikoff With 4, later voters know the vote of earlier ones and may sway the later Rep. Oct 4, 2023 at 11:55
  • 13
    @SteveMelnikoff I suspect there's some political theatre involved -- if the Speaker wants constituents to see who voted which way, they use roll call.
    – Barmar
    Oct 4, 2023 at 14:59
  • 7
    That is, constituents who are watching the voting live on TV or on the internet. Either way, the votes would be published online afterwards (clerk.house.gov/Votes/2023519).
    – dan04
    Oct 4, 2023 at 16:01
  • 2
    @chux-ReinstateMonica The House has a tally board, screens which display real-time voting status. Representatives are supposed to verify their electronic vote on the display after they place it.
    – user71659
    Oct 5, 2023 at 0:38
  • 3
    There is also "vote by division". It goes between 2 and 3. "Those in favor of the question shall first rise or otherwise indicate from their seats and be counted, and then those opposed." Paragraph 1 (a) of Rule XX.
    – Rick Smith
    Oct 5, 2023 at 4:08

Normally, recorded votes use electronic vote counting. The choice is by the Speaker using rule XX.

  1. (a) Unless the Speaker directs otherwise, the Clerk shall conduct a record vote or quorum call by electronic device.

Paragraph 3 was used in this case.

  1. The Speaker may direct the Clerk to conduct a record vote or quorum call by call of the roll. In such a case the Clerk shall call the names of Members, alphabetically by surname. When two or more have the same surname, the name of the State (and, if necessary to distinguish among Members from the same State, the given names of the Members) shall be added. After the roll has been called once, the Clerk shall call the names of those not recorded, alphabetically by surname. Members appearing after the second call, but before the result is announced, may vote or announce a pair.
  • "alphabetically by surname" --> always starts with A and then to Z? Hmmm, to be fair I'd expect sometimes (B to Z, then A), (C to Z, then A to B), etc. or the like. Oct 4, 2023 at 12:00
  • 3
    @chux-ReinstateMonica Who said they care about fairness?
    – Barmar
    Oct 4, 2023 at 14:57
  • @chux-ReinstateMonica As far as I can see from videos of roll-call voting in the House, it always starts with A, so currently: Adams, Aderholt, Aguilar, Alford, Allen, ..., Yakym, Zinke. The process takes about 40 to 45 minutes to complete depending on the clerk and how many representatives have to be called more than once.
    – njuffa
    Oct 5, 2023 at 3:24

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