Roll call

Roll call

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 countries such as the UK). 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, and camps.

In traditions of some schools, the term Roll Call refers to a general assembly for various daily announcements; see for example the traditions of the Groton School.

The Roll Call of Honor is a ceremonial roll call of honorably fallen people or a list of these people.

U.S. Congress

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

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.

The Constitution does not provide for the replacement of members of the House due to death or catastrophe, thus a failure to establish a quorum is more serious in the House than in the Senate. Members of the Senate may be replaced by appointment by state Governors.

ee also

*Recorded vote in the United States Congress, often called a Roll call vote.
*Division (vote)


* [ Standing Rules of the Senate]
* [ Rules of the House of Representatives]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Roll call — Roll Roll, n. [F. r[^o]le a roll (in sense 3), fr. L. rotulus ? little wheel, LL., a roll, dim. of L. rota a wheel. See {Roll}, v., and cf. {R[^o]le}, {Rouleau}, {Roulette}.] 1. The act of rolling, or state of being rolled; as, the roll of a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • roll call — roll calls also roll call 1) N VAR If you take a roll call, you check which of the members of a group are present by reading their names out. In the late winter we were compelled to stand in the snow every morning for roll call. 2) N SING: N of n …   English dictionary

  • roll call — 1775; see ROLL (Cf. roll) (n.) + CALL (Cf. call) …   Etymology dictionary

  • roll call — n: the act or an instance of calling off a list of names (as for checking attendance); specif: an act or instance of calling the roll of a legislative body to determine if there is a quorum or to vote on a matter Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of… …   Law dictionary

  • roll call — n. 1. the reading aloud of a roll, or list of names, as to check attendance in a classroom, military formation, etc. 2. the fixed time, or a signal (as on a bugle), for such a reading …   English World dictionary

  • roll-call — n [U and C] the act of reading out an official list of names to check who is there …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • roll call — roll ,call noun count or uncount the process of reading out an official list of people s names to see who is present, especially in a school or in the military …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • roll call — roll′ call n. the calling of a list of names, as of soldiers or students, for checking attendance • Etymology: 1765–75 …   From formal English to slang

  • roll-call — ► NOUN ▪ the process of calling out a list of names to establish who is present …   English terms dictionary

  • Roll Call — For other uses see Roll call (disambiguation) Infobox Newspaper name = Roll Call caption = type = Periodical newspaper format = Tabloid foundation = 1955 ceased publication = price = owners = The Economist Group publisher = Laurie Battaglia… …   Wikipedia

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