The 2013 General Assembly session by the numbers
Posted August 18, 2013 9:03 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:36 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — One of the most basic duties a lawmaker carries out during session is mashing the red or green button during recorded votes on the House or Senate floor. While plenty of hard bargains and hard luck lurk behind the numbers, vote totals can tell part of the story behind the 2013 legislative session.
In the House
House lawmakers cast a total of 1,352 recorded votes during the 2013 legislative session. During the session, lawmakers may request and receive excused absences. The House clerk's office does not count votes cast during those absences as missed votes. However, the tallies can be recalculated to examine the actual number of votes missed during a session.
Using that recalculated total, an individual state representative could be expected on to participate in 86.1 percent of recorded votes during the six-month legislative session.
"I've cast every vote since I cast my first one in 2005," Dollar said. "I made a commitment in the 2004 election (that) I would be there on the job casting votes for the citizens of the 36th District."
A lot has changed since Dollar started serving in 2005, when he was in the minority party. Now, he is a member of the legislative leadership responsible for building the annual budget. Often, legislative leaders miss votes because they have to negotiate with their counterparts in the Senate or work with staff on complex legislation.
Dollar said he doesn't let his committee responsibilities draw him too far from the chamber. In addition, technology that allows him to monitor the session via smartphone and a helpful heads-up from the sergeant-at-arms staff brings him back in time for votes.
Crossing party lines: Rep. William Brisson, D-Bladen, voted with the Republicans 91.7 percent of the time, more than any other Democrat. Brisson voted with Republicans more than Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, who voted with the GOP majority only 89.4 percent of the time – the least of any Republican in the House.
In the Senate
In the Senate, lawmakers cast a total of 913 recorded votes during the 2013 legislative session. As with the House, lawmakers may request and receive excused absences, and tallies compiled by legislative staff don't count votes during those periods as missed. However, recalculating the numbers based on the actual number of missed votes, an individual senator could be expected to cast 93.9 percent of recorded votes during the six-month legislative session.
Of course, no Republican Senator voted against the majority more than 3.1 percent of the time, a sign of how tightly knit the Senate GOP caucus is. It also raises the distinct possibility that some Republican senators "took a walk" and did not vote on legislation in which their vote would conflict with their leadership's wishes.