Kim McCarthy Proposes Expanding Public Access To Legislator Voting Records

Kim McCarthy, in conjunction with her participation in the League of Women Voters candidates panel on Tuesday, October 9 in Beavercreek, has announced her commitment to working for more accountability in our state governance, blasting the Republican House Leadership for “hiding legislators’ voting records.”

“One of the reasons I am running is I’m tired of our representatives not being held accountable for what they are actually doing, or not doing. Unfortunately in Ohio, legislative public records are still being made available in ways more fitting to the 1990’s than to our data-driven 2.0 online world. Modern technology allows us to do a much better job, but the state shows no interest in doing so.” When in the House, McCarthy will push for a House Resolution requiring these changes to be made, and the comprehensive voting records of legislators be made directly accessible to citizens.

As McCarthy became more involved in her local Greene County politics, she discovered that it was impossible to go to a single source to check her legislators’ voting records. “How can the ordinary citizen find out what their representatives are doing without direct access to their voting record?” said McCarthy. The Ohio Constitution requires that votes on all bills be recorded so citizens can tell whether representatives are acting in the public interest, or in the interests of lobbyists and donors. But by making it difficult to simply pull up a legislator’s voting record on a single site, the professional politicians cheat the voters and dishonor the clear intent of the Ohio Constitution. “

But it is not just final votes on passage of a bill, but a representative’s vote on amendments that are even more important for the informed citizen to know. “This allows a politician to say that they supported a measure, but they actually voted to gut it during the amendment process. The voter has almost no way of knowing this. Committee votes are even harder to access.

At the present time, recorded votes are difficult to access. A citizen has to go to the Legislative website, look up a particular piece of legislation, and then track down the vote for passage. They would then be able to see the recorded vote. Citizens would then have to repeat this process maybe 50 to 100 times for every single bill to piece together that legislator’s voting record. This cheats Ohioans of their democratic birthright.  

A fix to this would be relatively simple. It just takes the political will. One would think a state that prides itself on invention and innovation could accomplish something this technically simple when it comes to serving the public interest. If a little, citizen-driven non-profit like VoteSmart.org can do this, the great state of Ohio certainly can. Citizens should not have to depend on private organizations to get public information. The Ohio Statehouse has been in the control of the GOP for the duration of the rise of the internet and the digital age. Perhaps one of the reasons that control has been maintained is because of the unnecessary difficulty for citizens to find out what their legislators are actually doing.

It’s time to end the culture of corruption that allows career politicians to hide their work from the people,” McCarthy said. “This issue is about the right of the citizen to know what their government is doing. One thing is for sure. I’ll make sure that MY voting record will be available whether the House does its duty or not.”