Simplified Rules of Order

Subsidiary Motions

Previous Question (To Vote Immediately)

This is a tactic to close debate on a question. It is usually made at a time when the debate has been long and repetitious. A member rises and says: "I move that the question be now put."

A motion to put the previous question (that is, to vote immediately on the motion being debated) cannot interrupt another speaker, must be seconded, is not debatable, and is not amendable, and requires a two-thirds majority vote. This requirement is important in protecting the democratic process. Without it, a momentary majority of only one vote could deny to the other members all opportunity to discuss any measure the "majority" wanted to adopt or to defeat. Such a motion can be reconsidered, but if the vote was affirmative, it can be reconsidered only before any vote has been taken under it-that is, only before the previous question has been put.

A motion to put the previous question has precedence over all other motions listed in this section except the motion to table (see next subsection). If the motion to put the question passes, the chair immediately proceeds to call a vote on the question that was being debated. The means that the mover of the motion loses his/her right to close debate. If the motion is defeated, debate on the motion before the meeting continues as if there had been no interruption.

The motion to put the previous question is the only proper method of securing an immediate vote. Members who call, "Question!" in an attempt to get the chairperson to call the question immediately should be ruled out of order. The only situation in which members may properly call, "Question!" is in reply to the chairperson when he/she asks the meeting, "Are you ready for the question?"

Contents | How Motions are Classified | Subsidiary Motions

Last changed: 10/08/2002
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