The legislative information displayed on our Democracy Maps does not, and cannot, reflect a wholly accurate picture of the individual and collective legislators. We urge you to contact your legislator to learn more about their views and voting history on these issues. Legislators vote for or against bills and amendments for a variety of reasons - not solely due to their approval or disapproval for the measure at hand. Sometimes legislators vote against an amendment on a bill, despite their actual approval of the amendment, because they know that the bill is less likely to pass if it includes that amendment. Or they may be voting against something because it does not go far enough. Other times, like within our federal legislature, legislators are asked by leadership to act in sync with the party.
A substantial limitation is the fact that many of our legislators’ votes are not publicly available. No Joint Committees are required to publish the details of their votes, including the Joint Committee on Elections - which is the first step for all election-related legislation. We have compiled all the votes and co-sponsorships information that are on record. While The GGP believes that committee votes should be fully published, there are many (including the vast majority of our House of Representatives) who feel otherwise. You can decide for yourself, as the Rules were publicly debated on 2/24/21 (video here, debate starts at 27:00). You can also have far greater access to legislature information by purchasing InstaTrac - a proprietary legislative tracking software. However, the product is intended for professional use and a yearly subscription costs several thousand dollars.
The legislative process is confusing. There are many paths through which a bill may become a law. Getting accurate information into this process is difficult in many states. In Massachusetts, our legislative process is especially opaque. Through The Good Governance Project 2021 initiative, Transparency in MA, our students will conduct a 50-state comparative study, and identify best practices for transparency and the use of technology within state governments.