Roll call

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For other uses, see Roll call (disambiguation).

Roll call is the calling of the names of people from a list (roll) to determine the presence or absence of the listed people (also known as a register in regions such as the United Kingdom). The term applies to the calling itself, to the time moment of this procedure, and to a military signal that announces it (e.g. by a drum).

Roll calls are used in places such as classrooms, the military, prisons, law enforcement, camps, and Model United Nations.

In traditions of some schools, the term refers to a general assembly for various daily announcements.

A roll call of honor is a ceremonial roll call of honorably fallen people or a list of these people.

Recorded votes[edit]

Main article: Recorded vote

U.S. Congress[edit]

Both houses of the United States Congress are given broad latitude to establish their own rules under Article One of the United States Constitution. No court has ever challenged this occasionally controversial practice by striking down a law passed without the physical presence of a majority of senators in the chamber at the time of passage, although there have been attempts to challenge some acts on this ground, such as the Palm Sunday Compromise in the case of Terri Schiavo.

In the 20th century, electrical devices were installed that permit most quorum calls in either house to be taken automatically. The Speaker of the House or the President pro tem of the Senate may direct the clerk to use an oral roll call.


By the standing rules of the United States Senate, the quorum may be established by a roll call (quorum call) only and not by any other method, such as a head count. Any senator may demand a roll call at any moment to establish the quorum. Once the call is performed the quorum is assumed to be present until a senator suggests otherwise. This practice enables the Senate to engage in debate and conduct less controversial business without requiring the physical presence of fifty-one senators in the chamber.

House of Representatives[edit]

The House allows for a quorum call, which is effectively the same as a roll call. The Speaker of the House can direct a vote or quorum to be taken by tellers, who are assistants of the Clerk. In this case Members will come to the front of the Chamber to have their votes recorded manually by a teller. The history of 200 years of parliamentary procedural rulings governs arcane rules surrounding the recording of votes or quorums by tellers.

Russian State Duma[edit]

In the Russian State Duma, relatively few roll call votes have been published that identify individual deputies' votes.[1] The votes of individuals are recorded only if the voting is open and the electronic method is used.[1]

Law enforcement[edit]

In many United States police departments a daily roll call and inspection is performed. For uniformed units, the procedure is typically as follows: Officers present themselves to their supervisor for inspection. This is to ensure that officers are properly and professionally attired. Weapons and other equipment are inspected to ensure they are in working order and ready for use. The roll is called, followed by a briefing. This may include daily assignments, information on recent crimes, descriptions of wanted or missing persons, important notifications from the previous shift, and any other information deemed necessary or useful.[2] This event was a hallmark for many police shows like Adam-12, Hill Street Blues, COPS, and Reno 911!.

See also[edit]