Individual legislators missed 1,437 votes in 2011, according to MichiganVotes.org 'Missed Votes Report'
For Immediate Release
Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012
Contact: Jack McHugh
Senior Legislative Analyst
Michael D. Jahr
Vice President for Communications
MIDLAND — Michigan’s 38 senators and 110 representatives missed 1,437 votes in 2011, according to the Missed Votes Report compiled by Jack McHugh, editor of MichiganVotes.org. The Michigan Senate took 830 roll call votes during 2011, and the House took 613*. The number of missed votes has been on a dramatic downward trajectory since 2001-2002, when MichiganVotes.org began tracking this information and the average number was more than 10,000 every year.
Here are the tallies for the previous five legislative sessions; note that unlike the 2011 figure they cover two-year periods: 2001-2002 (21,162 missed votes); 2003-2004 (12,178); 2005-2006 (9,598); 2007-2008 (10,324); 2009-2010 (7,173); total missed votes, 2001-2011 (61,872).
During the 2011 session, three current senators and three current representatives** missed 50 or more votes each. Sixty-six Michigan lawmakers missed no votes. Find out how many (and which) votes your local state legislators missed at the “Missed Votes Report.”
The list can be sorted by name or by number of missed votes. The total number of possible votes is also listed for each legislator (those who were not in office for the entire session have lower numbers). By clicking on a legislator’s name, you can see a brief, plain-English description of the actual votes that he or she missed. Missed vote totals for previous periods can be viewed by entering a different date range.
McHugh said the missed-votes feature is an example of the power of the MichiganVotes.org database. “We now have 11 years of bills and votes in the system — the complete legislative careers of many members. To obtain this information anywhere else, it would be necessary to read and record information from thousands of pages of legislative journals,” he said.
McHugh added that in most cases missed votes occur when other demands within the legislative process call a lawmaker off the floor for a few minutes, or when serious family or personal issues require an absence for an entire day or longer.
“Legislators are people too,” McHugh observed. “We shouldn’t jump to conclusions or assume bad faith. But if a legislator demonstrates a consistent pattern of missed votes for months on end, voters have a right to ask why.
“Large numbers of missed votes get people’s attention,” McHugh added, “but they should be more concerned about the votes their own legislators actually do take, especially when many of these appear to serve the system ahead of the people.”
MichiganVotes.org is a free website provided by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. It provides concise, objective, plain-English descriptions of every bill and every vote by every politician in the Michigan Legislature, searchable and sortable by legislator, topic, keywords, date range and more.
*MichiganVotes.org roll call vote totals do not include some purely procedural or duplicate votes. When these are included there were 619 House roll calls in 2011, and 844 in the Senate.
**Former Rep. Tim Melton also had more than 50 missed votes, but many occurred between the time he announced his resignation and its effective date.