The procedures of the Senate also make provision for a roll call of senators. Unlike roll calls in some other legislatures, this is not a method of voting, but a method of summoning senators to the Senate when an important matter is to be voted on, and of calling the roll to ascertain whether all senators are present. This type of roll call, originally termed a call of the house, is an ancient parliamentary procedure.
A roll call may be ordered by the Senate by motion on notice. Special provision is made for advising each senator that notice of a motion for an order for a roll call has been given.
A roll call does not oblige a senator to vote.
An order for a roll call must be passed at least 21 days before the day specified in the order as the day for the roll call. On the specified day an order for a roll call may be postponed or discharged as with other orders of the day. An order for a roll call takes precedence over all other orders of the day on the day on which the roll call is to take place.
At the time for a roll call, the bells are rung as for a division, the names of all senators are then called in alphabetical order by the Clerk and senators answer their names. A senator who does not answer is called again. The result of the roll call is then reported by the President.
A senator who is not present for a roll call may, by motion without notice, be excused from attendance or be ordered to attend at a future time. The Senate could impose a penalty upon a senator who does not answer the summons to a roll call, but in practice senators who are absent for any legitimate reason are excused from attendance.
The standing orders provide that a roll call must take place immediately before the third reading of a bill to alter the Constitution.
A roll call may be ordered for any other purpose, but that procedure is not now used.