That seems unfair

One of my favorite tools the Washington Post online offers is their Congressional vote information and – more importantly – feeds. Using one of a bazillion RSS readers – I’m partial to Google Reader these days – you can track the votes for your representatives with a specificity that is maybe a little unhealthy. The only thing they’re lacking is a quick & easy way to determine your rep if you’re not sure. Senators are easy but House districts can be redrawn. Thankfully you can go to Project Vote Smart and there’s a finder on the left hand side.

Aside from enabling obsessive-compulsive behavior, they also do some useful aggregation like breakouts for late-night votes or most voted on. There’s not-so-useful too, like vote by astrological sign which is only available in the per-vote breakdown.

Then there’s vote missers, which seems like a way for you to get your indignant on and see who failed to do their legislative duty by showing up.

Except that the rolls are filled with folks who are/were sick and out for an extended period or, in the case of the #1 spot, dead. I personally think that there’s a fair number of good reasons to miss work, but departing the land of the living is without question the top qualifying category. Thankfully the listings have notes to indicate these things, but I feel sorry for poor Charles Norwood who seems destined to hold that top spot through the 110th Congress. His attendance record isn’t going to get any better as the term continues. It’s an unfortunate reflection on a man who was at work through the day he died, based on his votes

1 Comment so far

  1. Derek Willis (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 4:10 pm


    Thanks for using our votes database and for your comments about the late. Rep. Norwood. I’m writing to explain how we calculate missed votes when it comes to people who no longer are members (whether through death, resignation or expulsion). In Norwood’s case, his vote-misser score is based only on those votes he was eligible for while alive, and his illness prevented him from voting on most of those.

    So we are not and do not penalize members who leave Congress in terms of their scores. Your point about Norwood likely being atop the list of vote-missers is well-taken, and that’s why we have the note explaining his circumstances (and those of other members who are sick or injured).

    If you have any questions, please feel free to let me know. My email is derek.willis AT


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