Policy Analysis | April 2018

Chamber Vote Adjustment in the South

Multiple Authors

Of the 30 legislative chambers in the South, 25 chambers allow members to adjust their vote after the initial vote has been taken, either by rule or custom. The reasons for permitting a vote adjustment vary among chambers, with several chambers allowing members to change their votes when the vote was recorded incorrectly or the member voted erroneously, while other chambers only will permit a vote change prior to the announcement of the vote. Furthermore, 26 chambers have rules addressing a member’s ability—or lack thereof—to change their vote, while four chambers operate based on custom. There is no rule regarding vote adjustment in either chamber of the Arkansas General Assembly. However, the rules for both Arkansas chambers state that Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure—followed by 70 of the 99 state legislatures in the United States—shall be followed for all matters not covered by chamber rules. Mason’s Manual permits a member to change their vote after the roll call is completed, but before the vote is announced. This brief report examines rules or customs regarding chamber vote adjustment. When available, the text of the rule excerpted from the state source and a link to chamber rules are provided.

Chamber Vote Adjustment in the South
State/Chamber Are legislators permitted to adjust their vote? Rule or custom regarding chamber vote adjustment
Alabama
House
No. Custom: Members may file a statement indicating that they mistakenly selected the wrong choice. This statement is registered in the House Journal, but does not change the vote.
Alabama
Senate
Yes, until the Senate Journal is prepared for the day. Custom: Votes may be changed until the Senate Journal is prepared for the day.
Arkansas
House
Yes, prior to the announcement of the vote. Arkansas House Rule 31: In every case not provided for in the House rules, the speaker, the parliamentarian, and the members shall be guided by Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure. Each member of the Rules Committee may be furnished a copy of the current edition and of each new or revised edition of Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure and additional copies may be available to other members from the Parliamentarian, upon approval of the Rules Committee.

Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, Section 535(6): After the roll call has been completed, but before the vote is announced, a member may arise and address the presiding officer and, upon being recognized, may change his vote by saying, “aye to no” or the reverse. It is not out of order for a member to change his vote without waiting to be recognized by the presiding officer, but the best practice is to secure recognition before changing the vote. After the vote has been announced, it is too late to vote or to change a vote.
Arkansas
Senate
Yes, prior to the announcement of the vote. Arkansas Senate Rule 26.01: Rules of parliamentary practice comprised in Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure shall govern the Senate in all cases in which they are applicable, and in which they are not inconsistent with these rules and orders of the Senate and the joint rules and orders of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, Section 535(6): After the roll call has been completed, but before the vote is announced, a member may arise and address the presiding officer and, upon being recognized, may change his vote by saying, “aye to no” or the reverse. It is not out of order for a member to change his vote without waiting to be recognized by the presiding officer, but the best practice is to secure recognition before changing the vote. After the vote has been announced, it is too late to vote or to change a vote.
Florida
House
Yes, but only in an instance of machine error. Florida House Rule 9.4(b): In no instance, other than by reason of an electronic or mechanical malfunction, shall the result of a voting machine roll call on any question be changed.
Florida
Senate
Yes, with unanimous consent of those present. Florida Senate Rule 5.2 (1): After the result of the vote has been announced by the president, a senator with unanimous consent of those senators present may change his or her vote or cast a late vote on the matter.

Florida Senate Rule 5.2 (4): No such change of vote or vote after the roll call request shall be accepted if such vote would alter the result of the vote on final passage of the matter until the matter shall first have been returned to the desk and reconsidered.
Georgia
House
Yes, only if the bill is reconsidered. Georgia House Rule 143 (1): Motions for reconsideration shall be in order immediately before the period for members to rise on notices of Morning Orders under Rule 40 and the third reading of bills and resolutions on the day succeeding the action sought to be reconsidered and such other days as provided in these rules. Before any action can be reconsidered, notice must have been given to the House of intention to so move during the legislative day during which the action sought to be reconsidered took place. The notice of a motion to reconsider shall not be withdrawn after the time has elapsed within which it might originally have been made. A motion for reconsideration takes a majority of those voting, providing the total vote constitutes a quorum.
Georgia
Senate
Yes, a voice vote may be changed if a senator voted erroneously. No changes are permitted when the electronic roll call system is used. Georgia Senate Rule 5-1.5 (b): The official roll call shall be printed by the electronic roll call system and shall never in any way be altered or the votes recorded thereon changed.

Georgia Senate Rule 5-1.7 (a): On the call of the “yeas” and “nays” by voice vote, the secretary of the Senate shall read the names of the senators after they have been called, and no senator shall be permitted to change his or her vote, unless he or she declares that he or she voted by mistake of the question. When the electronic roll call system is used, this Rule shall be inoperative.
Kentucky
House
Yes, upon suspension of the Rules. Custom: At the beginning of each daily session, after the motion to excuse members, a motion is introduced that “the rules be suspended for the purpose of allowing members who want to be co-sponsors of bills and resolutions or to submit vote modifications, if they have filed the proper papers with the clerk.”  This motion also allows legislators to file the paperwork with the clerk and not have to be recognized individually to move that their votes be recorded.
Kentucky
Senate
Yes, when absent for vote. Custom: Members can record or change votes after a roll call is taken. Recording or changing votes does not affect the outcome of the vote. However, this procedure allows their constituents to know how they would have voted had they been present in the chamber when the vote was taken.  Vote modifications are recorded in the Journal and posted to the Legislative Research Commission’s website daily.
Louisiana
House
Yes, prior to the announcement of the vote. Louisiana House Rule 12.7: On a roll call vote any member shall be privileged to vote or change his vote after the vote-recording equipment has started or the roll has been called, by rising in his seat and announcing his or her vote before the result of the vote is announced by the presiding officer.
Louisiana
Senate
Yes, prior to the announcement of the vote and, with consent, on the same day. Louisiana Senate Rule 10.8 (A): In the case of a roll call vote, any member shall be privileged to vote or change their vote, after the vote-recording equipment has started, or the roll has been called, by rising and announcing their vote before the result of the vote has been announced by the presiding officer.

Louisiana Senate Rule 10.8 (B): A member may seek consent to correct a vote record, but such consent shall only be requested and granted on the same legislative day on which the vote was taken. A motion to seek consent to correct a vote record shall be a debatable motion.
Mississippi
House
Yes, only before roll call is announced. Mississippi House Rule 97: After the voting machine has been locked, but prior to the display of the tabulated vote on the electric voting board of the result of a roll call, any member may request to (1) change his or her vote, or (2) vote.
After the vote has been tabulated and displayed on the electric voting board, a member with unanimous consent may change his or her vote on the measure, except that no such change of vote shall be permitted where such vote would alter the final vote on the measure.
Mississippi
Senate
Yes, only before roll call is announced. Mississippi Senate Rule 121: No senator shall have the Journal amended to have the record of a vote changed; however, senators may change their vote before the result of a roll call is announced.
Missouri
House
Yes, but only if the vote was incorrectly recorded. Missouri House Rule 89 (a): No member shall be recorded as voting when he/she was not present when the vote was taken. … In the event that a member's vote (or absence) is incorrectly recorded in the Journal, he/she shall file with the chief clerk an affidavit stating that he/she was in the chamber at the time the vote was taken, that he/she did in fact vote, that the vote (or absence) was incorrectly recorded and the correct vote that should have been recorded.
Missouri
Senate
No. Missouri Senate Rule 7: Upon the call of the Senate, or upon taking the “yeas” and “nays” on any question, the names of the senators shall be called alphabetically, and a senator within the chamber shall vote when his or her name is called. No senator shall be allowed to cast or change his or her vote after “yeas” and “nays” have been announced by the president.
North Carolina
House
Yes, when leave is permitted. North Carolina House Rule 24 (c): No member may change a vote without leave of the House, but such leave shall not be granted if it affects the result or if the session in which the vote was taken has been adjourned.
North Carolina
Senate
Yes, only on the same day as the vote. North Carolina Senate Rule 29 (h): A motion by any senator to change that senator’s vote must be made on the same legislative day as the vote is taken.  This subsection may not be suspended.
Oklahoma
House
Yes, only before roll call is announced. Oklahoma House Rule 9.6 (d): When sufficient time has elapsed for each member to vote, the presiding officer shall ask if any members present desire to vote or change their vote. Following such inquiry and before the electronic voting machine is locked, any member may be excused from voting.

Oklahoma House Rule 9.6 (e): The presiding officer shall then lock the machine and instruct the clerk to record the vote. The clerk shall immediately activate the recording equipment and, when the vote is completely recorded, shall advise the presiding officer of the result, and the presiding officer shall announce the result to the House. No vote may be changed after it has been recorded.
Oklahoma
Senate
No. Oklahoma Senate Rule 8-31 (D): No senator shall be permitted to vote or change a vote after the result has been announced by the presiding officer.
South Carolina
House
No. South Carolina House Rule 7.3 (c): After the voting machine is locked, no member may change his or her vote and the votes of tardy members shall not be counted.
South Carolina Senate No. South Carolina Senate Rule 16: Except as otherwise provided, the decision of the Senate on any question other than unanimous consent shall be taken by all members voting ‘viva voce’ or electronically when a roll call is required, if an electronic voting system is available.

South Carolina Senate Rule 16 (6): Upon a call of the Senate and unless a division is ordered, the senators present shall vote alphabetically, unless voting electronically, when a roll call is required and every senator present must give his or her vote as aye, no, or abstain unless excused by the Senate. No senator who is absent when the vote is taken and the result announced by the president shall be allowed to vote without leave of the Senate. A senator who is absent from a vote may not be recorded as voting on that matter.
Tennessee
House
Yes, only before roll call is announced. Tennessee House Rule 31: Any member’s vote on a roll call vote may be changed if such member requests such change before the result of the roll call is announced by the speaker. After the result of the roll call is announced by the speaker, no member may change such vote and the Journal entry shall not be altered. However, any member not voting at the time the roll call was taken, or any member voting on the original question but wishing to express a desire to change such member’s original stand, may have entered on the Journal a typewritten statement of support of or opposition to the question upon which the vote was taken.
Tennessee
Senate
Yes, only before roll call is announced. Tennessee Senate Rule 60: Any member may change his vote on a roll call prior to the result being announced by the speaker or by the clerk of the Senate.
Texas
House
Yes, before the roll call is announced, and, after, if the vote was erroneous. Texas House Rule 5, Section 53: Before the result of a vote has been finally and conclusively pronounced by the chair [speaker of the House] but not thereafter, a member may change his or her vote; however, if a member’s vote is erroneous, the member shall be allowed to change that vote at a later time provided that:
(1) the result of the record vote is not changed thereby;
(2) the request is made known to the House by the chair and permission for the change is granted by unanimous consent; and
(3) a notation is made in the Journal that the member’s vote was changed.
Texas
Senate
Yes, only if the member was temporarily absent during the vote and the member’s vote would not alter the outcome. Texas Senate Rule 6.15 (d): A member must be on the floor of the Senate or in an adjacent room or hallway on the same level as the Senate floor or gallery in order to vote; but a member who is out of the Senate when a record vote is taken and who wishes to be recorded shall be permitted to do so provided:
(1) the member was out of the Senate temporarily, having been recorded earlier as present;
(2) the vote is submitted to the Secretary of the Senate prior to adjournment or recess to another calendar day; and
(3) the recording of the member's vote does not change the result as announced by the chair [lieutenant governor or president pro tempore].
Virginia
House
Yes, only if the bill is reconsidered. Virginia House Rule 70: When a question has been decided, it may be reconsidered on the motion of any member who voted with the prevailing side, provided it be made on the same day or within the next two days of actual session, as long as such action has not been communicated to the Senate or the governor. The motion may be entered as a matter of privilege and shall take precedence of everything except special orders and other questions of privilege and be disposed of in the morning hour or with the calendar, as the case may be. All motions to reconsider shall be decided by a majority of the votes of the members present.
Virginia
Senate
Yes, if the vote was incorrectly recorded or the bill is reconsidered. Virginia Senate Rule 38 (a): A senator may submit a vote statement if he or she was not recorded as voting or if his or her recorded vote does not reflect his intention. The statement shall be limited to the fact the vote was not recorded or did not reflect his or her intention, and must be submitted to the clerk of the Senate by the adjournment of the daily session.

Virginia Senate Rule 48 (a): A question arising on a Senate bill, Senate resolution or Senate joint resolution being once determined must stand as the judgment of the Senate and cannot, during the course of that session of the General Assembly, be drawn again into debate, unless a motion to reconsider a question which has been decided has been made by a senator voting with the prevailing side on the same day on which the vote was taken.
West Virginia
House
Yes, when a roll call vote is conducted by voice vote and the vote was incorrectly recorded. West Virginia House Rule 42: On all roll calls, when the voting machine is not used, before the result is announced, the clerk shall read to the House the names of those who voted in the affirmative or in the negative, whichever is the smaller number, and announce the names of those absent and not voting, at which time any member may correct a mistake committed in taking down their vote. The result shall then be announced, but if the House so orders, the announcement of the result may be postponed to the succeeding day, with liberty to absent members at any time before the result is announced by the speaker to appear and vote "aye" or "no," in the presence of the House; and any member may, in the presence of the House, change their vote before the result is announced.
West Virginia
Senate
Yes, when a roll call vote is conducted by voice vote and the vote was incorrectly recorded. West Virginia Senate Rule 45: On all roll calls of the “yeas” and “nays” when the voting machine is not used, and before the result is announced, the clerk shall at the request of any member read either the names of those who voted “yea” or of those who voted “nay,” whichever is the smaller number, and the names of those absent and not voting, if any, and shall announce that all others voted either “yea” or “nay,” whichever is the larger number. In the event of a tie vote, the clerk shall upon such request read the names of those who voted “yea” and the names of those absent and not voting, if any, and shall announce that all others voted “nay.” At that time, any member shall have the right to correct any mistake committed in enrolling his or her name. The vote then shall be announced and the count recorded in the Journal. 

Sources: House Rules, Senate Rules and email communication with legislative service agency directors.