June 22, 2021

Five Washington lawmakers missed more than 221 votes during the 2021 session

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A total of 62 Washington lawmakers missed 717 votes combined during the 2021 legislative session, new data shows.

According to data from Washington Votes, a public service from the free-market think tank Washington Policy Center, most of the state lawmakers in question missed a few votes on average during the 105-day session.

Washington lawmakers this session voted to allow remote voting at the Capitol during the pandemic. The move spurred some technical difficulties on the floor in 2021. Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, failed to connect via the internet during a vote in March.

Missed votes in the Washington Legislature this session were split evenly along party lines. In the House, 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans missed at least one vote out of 98 members of the chamber. In the Senate, 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans missed one vote or more out of 49 members.

Lawmakers miss votes for various reasons, including illness, family or attending to their other duties outside of Olympia. All of the above applied to the five state lawmakers who missed 221 votes combined.

Sen. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney, missed a total of 63 votes during this year’s session, the most out of any state lawmaker. Speaking with The Washington Policy Center, Holy said those votes stemmed from three day-long absences. He said he spent two of those days attending an out-of-state funeral for a family member. He spent the third day at his son’s wedding, which he said was planned “a year in advance” of an unscheduled vote this year.

The second-highest number of missed votes, 53, was from Ericksen, who was observing an el Salvador election around the time he missed votes in Olympia.

Rep. Mike Volz, R-Spokane, missed a total of 40 votes this past session. His office told The Center Square those missed votes were because of three days the state representative was sickened with an unspecified illness. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to inquiries about whether Volz considered remote voting.

Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, missed 33 votes. Sheldon told the News Tribune in April his missed votes were because of a doctor’s appointment, his daughter’s birthday party and a meeting with the Bonneville Power Administration. He told The Center Square the same information. 

Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, missed 33 votes this session. His office told The Center Square that “all but two of those votes came on April 3 and 5,” when 30 concurrences were up for consideration. Van De Wege, a Sequim firefighter and EMT, was called back into service on both days.

The 2021 session saw Washington lawmakers pass landmark legislation including a capital gains tax, a $59.2 billion budget and criminal justice reform.

This article was originally posted on Five Washington lawmakers missed more than 221 votes during the 2021 session

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