Robert’s Rules and the Motion Division of the Assembly

By C. Alan Jennings, PRP, PRP

Use the motion Division of the Assembly if you doubt the result of a voice vote (or a vote by show of hands). You have the right, as a single, lone member, to demand that the vote be immediately taken by rising vote so everyone can see just which side is really in the majority.

In any situation where you’re in doubt of the result of a voice vote or a vote by show of hands, be quick to your feet and say (loudly enough to be heard by the chair), “Division!”

A motion for Division of the Assembly

  • Can interrupt a speaker who has the floor

  • Doesn’t need to be seconded

  • Isn’t debatable

  • Can’t be amended

  • Requires no vote to be taken

  • Can’t be reconsidered

Division on demand of a member

If a member demands a Division of the Assembly, the presiding officer must immediately retake the vote: “Those in favor of . . . will rise. [pause] Be seated. Those opposed will rise. [pause] Be seated.” The chair then declares the result based on the rising vote.

If a member is still in doubt after the rising vote, he may move for a counted vote. But this motion requires a second and an affirmative vote of the membership to order the vote be counted. However, if the chair remains in doubt about the result of a rising vote, he may proceed to order a counted vote on his own initiative.

Division on the initiative of the chair

The chair may not even wait for a call for a division.

If he can’t be sure of a majority based on the voice vote or show of hands, he may retake the vote by a rising vote by saying, “The chair is in doubt as to the result. Those in favor of the motion will rise. [pause] Be seated. Those opposed will rise. [pause] Be seated. Thank you. The affirmative is in the majority, and the motion is carried.”