What Is a Casting Vote?

Casting Vote / Casting Votes

A casting vote is an extra vote cast by the presiding officer of a governing body. It is used to resolve a deadlock, for example, when the votes for and against a motion are equal. This vote is typically used in councils, legislative bodies, boards of directors and committees

Depending on the specific circumstances highlighted in a company’s byelaws, a casting vote may be exercised in case of a tie vote

Who has the casting vote? 

The individual granted a casting vote depends on the rules and regulations set by the organisation in question. Generally, this power is given to the chairperson or president. This person is intended to be impartial, and their responsibility is to maintain order and facilitate decision-making. 

Under common law, a chair or presiding officer does not get a casting vote by default. Corporate byelaws must specify who can cast this vote and under what conditions. 

Casting vote procedure 

The procedure for making a casting vote involves these steps:  

  • The chair recognises that the vote on a current motion is tied. 
  • They announce to the voting members that the results are without a clear majority and inconclusive. 
  • The individual with the casting vote, typically the chair, then exercises their right to break the tie and deliver a clear outcome. 
  • The decision made by the individual with the casting vote is binding. The final outcome is then announced by combining the regular votes with the casting vote. 

Limits on the use of a casting vote 

Depending on a company’s byelaws, the following limitations can be imposed: 

  • The common law is silent on the existence and use of a casting vote. However, the fiduciary duty to act in good faith can be interpreted to prevent the use of a casting vote in promoting personal interests. 
  • According to Rober’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), the presiding officer must maintain impartiality and only vote when it can be used to change the outcome. 
  • In some cases, a casting vote is only allowed when there is a tie on a substantive issue; not for procedural matters. 
  • If there is a conflict of interest, the person with the casting vote should recuse themselves. 
  • Sometimes, the individual is also required to provide the reasoning for their vote.   
  • In some byelaws, the chair is not counted as a participant in decision-making for quorum or voting purposes. In such cases, they do not get a casting vote. 

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