DeMint Looks to Make Senate Votes Immediately Available Online

Posted May 1, 2009 at 1:22pm

It’s not often that the Senate envies the House, but Senate Steering Committee Chairman Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is leading an effort to modernize the Senate Web site to make roll call votes as accessible to the public as the House does.

On Thursday, DeMint sent a letter to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee asking that the Secretary of the Senate make votes available using the XML format, which would allow the public to immediately access and analyze roll call votes online.

“The House of Representatives has been using XML for approximately five years with no adverse effects. It is time for the Senate to change its policy on sharing XML data and make roll call vote information easily available to the public,— wrote DeMint.

DeMint described the current Senate Web site as “antiquated— and said it makes it “unnecessarily difficult— for the public to access votes. He added that XML would allow the public “to search, sort and visualize voting records in new ways.—

DeMint said it is “concerning— that a reason given by the Senate clerk’s office for not adding XML is because Senators want to provide voting records to constituents themselves. This suggests that Senators want to “put a better spin— on their votes instead of letting the public interpret the votes on their own, he said.

Other Senators who signed onto the letter include Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Ensign (R-Nev.), James Risch (R-Idaho) and David Vitter (R-La.).