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Michigan Votes

• Dec 31, 2018 at 11:00 AM

LANSING — 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 (2017-18), the missed votes total was 3,461.

Nine senators and three representatives each missed 50 or more votes in 2018, led by Bettie Cook Scott in the House (599 missed votes) and 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 re-election bid to a primary challenger in August, 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.

Our local state lawmakers once again didn’t miss much. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, the Senate majority leader for the past term, missed just 12 votes. State Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, who was re-elected in November, didn’t miss a vote in the past two 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 2001-02 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 at www.michiganvotes.org/MissedVotes.aspx, 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.”

MichiganVotes.org is a free, non-partisan website created by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

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