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Mackinac Center tracks Lawmakers’ missed votes

Lawmakers missed 1,671 roll call votes in 2018

 MIDLAND — Michigan’s 38 senators and 110 representatives missed 1,671 roll call votes in 2018 according to the Missed Votes Report compiled by Jack McHugh, editor of MichiganVotes.org.

For the full two years of the 99th Michigan Legislature (2017-2018), the missed votes total was 3,461.

Nine senators and three representatives each missed 50 or more votes in 2018, led by Rep. Bettie Cook Scott in the House (599 missed votes) and Sen. Tom Casperson in the Senate (199 missed votes). There were 15 senators and 80 representatives who missed no votes this year.

In comparison, the highest individual missed votes totals in 2017 were 144 in the Senate (by Sen. Coleman Young II) and 93 in the House (by Rep. LaTanya Garrett).

The 1,671 missed votes in 2018 is substantially more than the 2017 figure of 1,153, but this was skewed higher by Scott’s 599 missed votes. Scott stopped coming to legislative sessions after losing her bid for a Michigan Senate seat in the August primary election, essentially leaving the people of the 2nd district unrepresented during the second half of the year. MichiganVotes.org is unable to recall a similar situation in the past 25 years.

Excluding purely procedural votes, the Senate voted 1,043 times in 2018 and the House voted 1,045 times, for a total of 2,088 roll call votes by the entire Legislature.

In 2017 the Senate held 570 roll call votes and the House held 511, for a 2017 total of 1,081 roll call votes taken by both bodies. 

The number of missed votes has fallen dramatically since the 2001-2002 Legislature, which was the first session covered by MichiganVotes.org. Over that two-year period, individual Michigan lawmakers failed to cast a roll call vote 21,162 times.

“It used to be common that a number of lawmakers missed many hundreds of votes each year,” McHugh said. “This became rare when MichiganVotes.org began posting individual lawmakers missed votes.”

The full Missed Votes report can be viewed here (https://bit.ly/2VkPxkM) and can be sorted by name or by the number of missed votes. By clicking on a legislator’s name, users 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. 

“People shouldn’t jump to conclusions or assume bad faith if their own representative or senator misses a large number of votes,” McHugh said. “Voters have a right to ask why an individual missed a large number of votes, and in most cases the lawmaker is eager to explain.” 

The missed votes report is just a small piece of MichiganVotes.org’s capabilities. The site describes every bill, amendment and vote by every lawmaker. These are searchable and sortable by legislator, category, keyword and more. It contains descriptions of nearly 33,000 bills introduced since 2001 and more than 27,000 record roll call votes. The site’s database now contains 18 years’ worth of legislator’s votes—complete records of the full legislative careers of all recent lawmakers.

You can view the full report with each legislator’s missed votes totals at https://bit.ly/2VkPxkM.

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