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Encyclopedia > Division (vote)
It has been suggested that Division of the house be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)

A Division is a procedure by which the votes of the members of a legislature may be recorded, as opposed to a voice vote, wherein votes are unrecorded. Image File history File links Please see the file description page for further information. ... Division of the house is a parliamentary mechanism which calls for a rising vote, wherein the members of the house literally divide into groups indicating a vote in favor of or in opposition to a motion on the floor. ... Chamber of the Estates-General, the Dutch legislature. ... A voice vote is a vote taken on a topic where the participants respond to a question with yea (yes), nay (no), or present (abstain). ...


The United Kingdom

House of Commons

In the House of Commons, the Speaker states "The Question is that…", then proposing the question. Next, he says, "As many as are of that opinion say Aye." Then, following shouts of "Aye", he says, "of the contrary, No," and similar shouts of "No" follow. The Speaker then announces his opinion as to the winner, stating "I think the Ayes have it" or "I think the Noes have it." The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and is now the dominant elected branch of Parliament. ... In the United Kingdom, the Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the Lower House of Parliament, the House of Commons, and is seen historically as the First Commoner of the Land. ...

Any member may object to the Speaker's determination. If the Speaker feels that the division is unnecessary, he may first ask those who support his determination of the voice vote to rise, and then ask those who oppose the opinion to rise. Then, the Speaker may either declare that his ruling on the voice vote stands, or proceed to a division.

If a division is to be taken, the Speaker first states, "Division! Clear the Lobbies!" The two division lobbies alongside the House Chamber are then cleared of "strangers". Each side, the Ayes and the Noes, must appoint two tellers, who are responsible for counting the votes, from amongst their number. That a side fails to appoint two tellers generally indicates that only one person seeks to vote on that side. Basically, the requirement that tellers be appointed translates to requiring two members, rather than one, to force a division.

Two minutes after the question was first proposed, assuming that tellers have been appointed, the Speaker again proposes the question as above. If his opinion is not challenged, then the question is decided without a division. But if his determination is once again disputed, the Speaker declares, "The Ayes to the right, the Noes to the left," and then names the tellers. If one side fails to appoint tellers, then the other side wins the vote and the division is not held.

The members then enter the Aye or No lobby, as appropriate. Originally, there was but one lobby. In A Manual of Parliamentary Practice, Thomas Jefferson writes:

"[T]he one party goes forth, and the other remains in the House. This has made it important which go forth, and which remain; because the latter gain all the indolent, the indifferent and inattentive. Their general rule therefore is, that those who give their votes for the preservation of the orders of the House, shall stay in, and those who are for introducing any new matter or alteration, or proceeding contrary to the established course, are to go out."

After it was bombed during World War II, the House of Commons Chamber was rebuilt. At that time, a second lobby was added.

The Division Bell is rung througout the building, to notify any members not currently in the chamber that a vote is about to start. A recent development has been the use of pagers by party whips, to summon members from further afield. The Division Bell is a signal used within the local neighbourhood of the UK Parliament that a vote (Division) is being held and that members in the Commons or in the House of Lords have just under eight minutes to get to the appropriate Division Lobby to vote for or... A pager that is in use for emergency services A pager is an electronic device used to contact people via a paging network. ... In politics, a whip is a member of a political party in a legislature whose task is to ensure that members of the party attend and vote as the party leadership desires. ...

When the tellers are ready, the lobbies' exit doors are opened, and the members counted by the tellers, and their names recorded by clerks, as they leave. No earlier than eight minutes after the question has been proposed, the Speaker declares, "Lock the Doors." The lobby entrances are locked, and only those within the lobby may vote.

After all members have voted in the lobbies, the vote totals are written on a card, which is read by the Speaker, who then announces the final result. The Speaker himself does not vote, except in the case of a tie. Members may signify, but not record, an abstention by remaining in their seats during the division.

In the event that fewer than forty members voted in the division, the division is ignored, the question at hand is postponed until the next sitting, and the House proceeds to the next business.

In 2000, the House introduced, on an experimental basis, the procedure of "Deferred Divisions." Essentially, some divisions are delayed until the next Wednesday. However, the procedure is used for very few matters; most divisions still occur normally.

House of Lords

In the House of Lords, the Lord Chancellor proposes the question and announces the result as in the Commons, but he substitutes "Content" for "Aye" and "Not-Content" for "No". A Lord may object to the Lord Chancellor's determination. The Lord Chancellor then announces a division by stating, "Clear the Bar!" The Bar of the House is then cleared. Tellers are appointed as in the Commons. This article is about the British House of Lords. ... The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor and in former times Chancellor of England, is one of the most senior and important functionaries in the government of the United Kingdom. ...

Three minutes after the question was first proposed, the Lord Chancellor again proposes the question as above. If his opinion is not challenged, then the question is decided without a division. But if his decision is once again disputed, the Lord Chancellor may again ask the question. The question may be repeated as many times as the Lord Chancellor pleases; the process is referred to as "collecting the voices". But if a single Lord maintains an objection, the Lord Chancellor, not having the Speaker's power to declare a division unnecessary, must eventually announce, "The Contents to the right by the Throne, the Noes to the left by the Bar". Lords then vote in the lobbies, as it is done in the Commons. Unlike the Speaker, the Lord Chancellor may vote during a division; he does so from his seat rather than in a lobby. In the event that the votes are equal, then the following principles apply:

  • Legislation remains unchanged unless there is a majority in favour of amendment,
  • Legislation is allowed to proceed to the next stage unless there is a majority in favour of rejection, and
  • All other motions are rejected unless there is a majority in favour of passage.

The quorum for divisions is three Lords on a procedural vote and thirty Lords on a substantive one.


House of Representatives

In the Australian House of Representatives divisions follow a form similar to that of the United Kingdom, but the requirements are generally more stringent. For instance, a Member in the Chamber when the tellers are appointed must vote, while a Member not then present may not. Furthermore, members must vote in accordance to their voice votes. Australian House of Representatives chamber Entrance to the House of Representatives The Australian House of Representatives is one of the two houses (chambers) of the Parliament of Australia. ...

The voice vote is held as in the British House of Commons. If a Member objects, then the division bells are rung. When not less than four minutes have elapsed since the question was first put, the Speaker orders that the doors to the Chamber be locked, and directs that the Ayes proceed to the right side of the Chamber, and that the Noes proceed to the left. Members then take seats on the appropriate side of the Chamber, rather than entering a lobby, and then the Speaker appoints tellers for each side, unless fewer than five Members are seated on one side, in which case the Speaker calls off the division and declares the result for the side with the greater number of Members. If the division is still on, the tellers count and record the names of the Members. The Speaker announces the result, but does not himself vote unless there is an equality of votes.


In the Australian Senate, a procedure similar to that of the House of Representatives is followed. The voice vote is taken, and, if two Senators object, a division is held. Senators take seats in the right or left of the Chamber as in the House, and the President of the Senate appoints one teller for each side to record the votes. The President may vote by stating to the Senate the side on which he intends to vote. If the result of the division is an equality of votes, then the motion is in all cases disagreed to. Australian Senate chamber Entrance to the Senate The Australian Senate is the upper of the two houses of the Parliament of Australia. ...

The United States

In the United States Congress, divisions are used, but not in the same manner as in the British Parliament. In Congress, lobbies are not used, and the division is not a final determination of the question. The vote is first taken by voice vote, as is the case in Parliament. Then, any member may demand a division. If a division is demanded, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the President of the Senate (or President pro tempore) asks those voting Yea to rise and remain standing until counted, and then asks those voting Nay to do the same. Thereafter, a recorded vote may, under the provisions of the US Constitution, be forced upon the demand of one-fifth of the members present. In the Senate, the recorded vote is accomplished by the Clerk's call of the Roll. In the House, a Roll Call may be used, as may electronic voting devices. (For further information, see Recorded vote.) The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States of America. ... Representative Dennis Hastert of Illinois is currently the Speaker of the House of Representatives. ... The President of the Senate is the title often given to the presiding officer, or chairman, of a senate. ... A President Pro Tempore is a constitutionally recognized officer of the United States Senate who presides over the chamber in the absence of the President of the Senate. ... In the United States Congress, a recorded vote is a vote in which the names of those voting for and against a motion may be recorded. ...

  Results from FactBites:
ByLaws (2073 words)
The officers of the Division shall be a President, a President-Elect, a Past-President, a Secretary-Treasurer, the Divisional Representatives to the Council of Representatives (as provided for in Article IV of the Bylaws of the American Psychological Association), and six Members-At-Large of the Executive Committee.
The Officers of the Division shall be elected, according to a preferential voting system, by the Fellows and Members of the Division by mail ballot, except as provided in Article III and except that the Secretary-Treasurer shall be elected by a majority vote of the Division Executive Committee.
The committees of the Division shall consist of such standing committees as may be provided by these Bylaws and such special committees as may be established by vote of the members or of the Division Executive Committee, in accordance with Article V, Section 7, of the Bylaws of the American Psychological Association.
  More results at FactBites »



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