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In House of Cards, there are several occasions that a democratic decision is reached by asking people to yell out Aye in agreement or Nay in disagreement.

There is a particularly occasion in Season 4, Ep 10, where at a democrat convention people are asked if they agree to nominate Francis Underwood as the president and Claire Underwood as the vice president.

How realistic is it?

In the TV show, the Aye vastly outnumbers the Nay but what if when the Aye and the Nay are on an even foot? How does a decision get made then?

It happens in a scene here:

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  • This is known as a voice vote. Read the link for more information.
    – jwodder
    Dec 14 '20 at 3:41
  • Not sure if the linked video is right, there’s no voice vote in that video. Dec 14 '20 at 18:45
  • @ToddWilcox, you are right. But the voice vote that follows is edited out; I could not find the whole clip. But the voice vote is part of this scene.
    – Yu Zhang
    Dec 14 '20 at 19:48
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If there is any doubt in the decision, there is an option to call the roll of voters.

This involves asking each voter individually and in order how they are casting their vote.

They respond "yay" or "nay" and then they move on to the next voter.

Once all the votes are tallied a result is known.

In practise though, you don't call for a simple general "Yay / Nay" answer (without a vote count) unless you are very sure you're going to get he answer you want. NOT getting the result you want would be pretty embarrassing.

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Yes, this is realistic. I have seen votes taken this way at political conventions many times.

If one side or the other is clearly louder, the chairman of the meeting declares "the ayes have it" or "the nayes have it" and moves on. If it's close, the chairman may hesitantly say, "in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it". If it's so close that he can't say, he'll declare "the chair is in doubt" and call for a roll call vote.

This gives the person chairing the meeting an obvious opportunity to slant thing the way he wants. If, say, the chair is in favor of the motion, and when he calls for ayes and nays an objective observer would say that it was hard to say, the chair can just confidently declare "the ayes have it" and quickly move on.

To counter this, there's usually some procedure for members on the floor to demand a roll call vote.

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