Taking Attendance: Democrats Missed More Work In The Legislature Than Republicans


During the just-ended legislative session I wrote a number of posts about Rep. Kathy Hawken (R-Fargo) missing votes on pro-life bills despite pushing herself into the media as a vocal opponent of those bills. It turns out Hawken took a couple of out-of-state vacations while the legislature was in session.

Those prompted many of you readers to ask, how many votes do legislators normally miss? It was a good question, without an easy answer. I asked Legislative Council for an attendance tally for the legislators, but they said they don’t keep one and referred me to the daily House and Senate journals which record missed votes.

So I went back and tallied up the missed votes in two different ways: I counted up every time a legislator missed the morning attendance vote, and I counted up every floor vote on policy each legislator missed. I recorded both, because I think both are important. The morning attendance votes show us which legislators were in the chamber on time every morning and ready to work. The policy votes are important because they record which members stayed in the chamber throughout the day and participated in all of the debates.

In the coming days I’ll be revealing which legislators missed the most in both the House (tomorrow) and the Senate (Wednesday), but for today lets look at how each political party’s caucus performed.

For each party, in each chamber, I averaged the total number of missed attendance votes per legislator since the size of the caucuses are very different. What we see is that Democrats weren’t just a minority in terms of numbers, but were a minority in terms of the number of votes they showed up to as well.


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The 14-member Democrat caucus in the Senate missed a total of 30 daily attendance votes, with an average of 2.14 votes missed per member. For policy votes, Democrats missed a total of 411 votes for an average of 29.36 missed votes per member.

Republicans did better. The 33-member caucus missed 69 daily attendance votes, 2.09 votes per member, and 767 policy votes, 23.24 per member.


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The 23-member Democrat caucus in the House missed a total of 80 daily attendance votes, with an average of 3.48 votes per legislator. On policy votes, Democrats missed 718 votes for an average of 31.22 missed votes per legislator.

Republicans, who have 71 legislators in the House, missed 118 attendance votes for an average of 1.66 votes per member. On policy votes, Republicans missed 1,565 votes for an average of 22.04 missed votes per member.

Tomorrow and Wednesday we’ll break down these votes by legislator, and give you a view of which legislators missed the most work this session.