TN legislative website improves access to votes

Assembly website, notoriously difficult and out of date, will now post legislators' votes by bill number and subject.

Voting records of Tennessee legislators are difficult to find online. One has to search through an image file of a print publication, which can be tedious to say the least. That may be changing, though. State House speaker Jimmy Naifeh and newly elected Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey have a plan to allow the public easier access to voting records on the General Assembly's Web site, reports the Associated Press

The outdated information retrieval system for voting records is an impediment to public access and open government. The change will make votes easy to search and access through simple links by bill number or subject.

The chief clerk of the senate, Russell Humphrey, said Friday that within a few days, both Senate floor and committee votes should be easily available online shortly after they are taken.

"We want government to be as open as possible. I want all our committee votes and all our floor votes to be online," Ramsey told The Tennessean.

But Drew Johnson, president of the free-market think tank Tennessee Center for Policy Research noted that House committees often take simple voice votes on legislation that are not recorded. Thus Naifeh and Ramsey's solution is a little less transparent than it seems.

Johnson said that unless committee votes are easily available, too, the House change does not go a long way toward transparency in government.

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