Which legislators miss the most votes?

Five legislators missed more than 30% of their votes in 2011.

Yesterday, I wrote that Utah’s legislators skip a LOT of votes. On average, 7.1% of Representatives missed each vote during the 2011 session, and 14.4% of Senators missed each vote. And earlier today, I posted some analysis showing why some votes get skipped more than other votes.

Now, let’s name names. Which Utah legislators miss the most votes?

Winners of the (almost) perfect attendance award

Nobody had perfect attendance in 2011, but a few legislators came close. These are the 10 legislators with the best attendance record during the 2011 session.

Legislator Number of missed votes Number of votes held Percent of missed votes
Rep. Stephen Handy 1 651 0.2%
Rep. Dean Sanpei 2 651 0.3%
Rep. Tim Cosgrove 3 651 0.5%
Rep. Fred Cox 4 651 0.6%
Rep. Keith Grover 5 651 0.8%
Rep. Jim Nielson 6 651 0.9%
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck 8 651 1.2%
Rep. Val Peterson 8 651 1.2%
Rep. Joel Briscoe 11 651 1.7%
Rep. Steve Eliason 11 651 1.7%

You’ll notice that all of those folks are in the House. In fact, no Senator came close to being in the top 10. The best attendance in the Senate was by Sen. Ralph Okerlund, who missed 37 of the 940 votes held in the Senate in 2011, missing “only” 3.9% of his votes. There were 24 Representatives with a better attendance record than that.

Legislators who missed the most votes

Five legislators missed more than 30% of their votes in 2011. Starting from the most frequently absent legislator, here are the ten worst offenders.

Legislator Number of missed votes Number of votes held Percent of missed votes
Sen. Chris Buttars 342 940 36.4%
Rep. Mel Brown 221 651 33.9%
Sen. Lyle Hillyard 315 940 33.5%
Speaker Becky Lockhart 210 651 32.3%
Sen. Curt Bramble 301 940 32.0%
Sen. Mark Madsen 268 940 28.5%
Sen. Dennis Stowell 252 940 26.8%
Sen. Dan Liljenquist 227 940 24.1%
Sen. Luz Robles 225 940 23.9%
Rep. Eric Hutchings 149 651 22.9%

I suppose we might excuse Sen. Buttars and Sen. Stowell on account of health issues. Sen. Buttars resigned shortly after the session as a result; Sen. Stowell passed away in April.

I suppose we might also excuse Speaker Lockhart on account of her leadership position. After all, research in the Congressional context has found that U.S. House speakers tend to have higher absentee rates than rank-and-file Representatives. Of course, Senate President Waddoups missed only 6.2% of his votes (6th best attendance in the 29-member Senate) despite holding a similar leadership position.

The complete data table

If you want to see every legislator’s absentee rate for every session from 2007 through 2011, you’ll find that data here: Absenteeism in the Utah legislature. At first, you’ll see averages that span the 2007 through 2011 sessions. You can view a specific year by following the relevant links.

What do some legislators miss so many votes?

I’ve already written a post explaining why some votes get a higher absentee rate than other votes. (Among other things, legislators are more likely to skip a lopsided vote, and they’re less likely to skip a vote if it’s on a bill sponsored by leadership.) However, I haven’t yet offered any analysis as to why some legislators have a higher absentee rate than other legislators. Stay tuned. That’s coming soon.

Update: See “Why do legislators skip votes?” for a look at some of the reasons.

Update: See “Which legislators run the most bills?” for a look at which legislators introduce the most bills and get the most bills passed.

Possibly related posts:

About Adam Brown

Adam Brown is an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University and a research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. You can learn more about him at his website.
This entry was posted in Everything and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Which legislators miss the most votes?

  1. Jay Blain says:

    One reason Rep. Brown and Sen. Hillyard might have a higher percentage of missed votes is because they are the chairs of the Executive Appropriations committee.

    • Adam Brown says:

      Pretty much all the folks who missed a lot of votes either have (a) an important leadership position (Lockhart, Brown, Hillyard) or (b) they sponsored high-profile bills (Bramble, Liljenquist, Robles, Hillyard, others).

      I’ll address the reasons that some folks miss more votes than others in a future post.

  2. fred says:

    Missing votes to get a bill they are sponsoring through a comitttee or other house is common and in some cases required. I missed 4 floor votes while trying to get a bill I was sponsoring through the senate.

  3. Anne says:

    Congratulations…..your repeated running of the ad regarding Mr. Liljenquist’s attendance had decided my vote. I will be voting for Mr. Liljenquist!
    Keep up the good work with your annoying, negative advertising, your competition could not have gotten better exposure and it didn’t cost him a dime!

Comments are closed.