Legislators Miss 1,626 Votes in 2014

Down from 21,000 when MichiganVotes.org started in 2001

For Immediate Release
Dec. 26, 2014
Ted O'Neil
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND — Michigan’s 38 senators and 110 representatives missed a combined 1,626 votes in 2014 according to the Missed Votes Report compiled by Jack McHugh, editor of MichiganVotes.org.

There 2014 Legislature held 1,747 roll call votes, 936 in the Senate and 811 in the House, not counting purely procedural votes. This is up from the combined total of 1,256 roll call votes held in 2013, when individual legislators missed 1,093 votes altogether. (In contrast, there were 21,162 missed votes in the 2001-2002 legislative session, the year MichiganVotes.org began.)

“The days of some legislators no longer showing up for work are long past,” McHugh said. “Legislators’ habits changed almost immediately when MichiganVotes.org began making this information easily accessible.”

Three senators and three representatives missed 50 or more votes in 2014. There were five senators and 76 representatives who missed no votes. The full report at http://www.michiganvotes.org/MissedVotes.aspx can be sorted by name or by the 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 he or she missed. Missed vote totals for previous sessions can be viewed by entering a different date range.

McHugh noted 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 of an entire day or longer.

“Legislators are people, too,” McHugh said. “No one should 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.”

While large numbers of missed votes get people’s attention, McHugh notes the votes they don’t miss matter much more — and are the real focus of MichiganVotes.org’s different services. “The database with all the bills and all the votes is just one way to follow the votes of those who represent us in Lansing,” McHugh said. “In addition, there is a weekly roll call report for newspapers showing how their local legislators voted on key bills (which is also posted on Mackinac.org every week), and daily “action update” emails for users who sign up for a free subscription.”

A new feature is the VoteSpotter  app, which alerts smartphone users about how their own state and federal lawmakers voted on key bills. The free app also lets subscribers send a “one-touch” email giving feedback to their state representative or senator.

“Lawmakers are extremely sensitive to hearing that a constituent approved or disapproved  a particular vote,” McHugh said. “Legislative accountability begins with knowing how your representatives voted; telling the politicians what you think of a vote closes the loop.”

MichiganVotes.org is searchable and sortable by legislator, category, keyword and more. It has described more than 25,000 bills since 2001. McHugh said while the service was started to give citizen-activists access to more information to help them influence the legislative process, its main benefit is transparency. The site’s database now contains 14 years worth of bills and votes — the complete legislative careers of many lawmakers.


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