You're doing a bang-up job, Texas legislature

Take a look at this video.


I don’t care if you don’t get your god-damned lunch or dinner break, if you want to fucking vote on a bill, YOU HAD BETTER FUCKING BE IN YOUR SEAT TO DO IT! Oh, but my buddy who sits next to me said he’d vote for me…well, gee, what if he thought you were going to vote for it, but you really were voting against it? Not only that, but the way half the senators were running around hitting buttons, it seemed clear to me that it was a race to get to the absent senators’ seats to hit whatever button you personally wanted, regardless of what they or their constituents may have wanted.

I can’t believe bullshit like this is happening, and I’m sure Texas isn’t the only place it happens, either, they just happen to be the one I found a video of. This is the reason people lose faith in democracy. They expect their elected representatives to actually be there and vote on what they want them to, but instead their drinking buddy is the one doing it, and god knows what he is voting for. :rolleyes:


I’m amazed they do this kind of crap. Aren’t they worried that when election time comes around and their voting record is examined it’ll be discovered that they voted in favor of gay, communist marriages to sheep or something? I could imagine someone really trashing his opponent by voting on a few things like this.
It’s lazy and unethical of course, but it also seems incredibly stupid.



Heh. I know a British guy who used to live in Texas. And used to hang out with folks from the Texas legislature. And when he was the the most sober guy at the tittie bar they went out to for lunch, he’d (despite not being an elected official or, ya know a US citizen) would go and cast votes in their stead.

This was in the Bush era. but he would never tell me if Bush joined them at the tittie bars…maybe he was afraid of snipers.

There are no Gays, Communists, or Sheep in Texas. This is Texas, Cattle Country…Gods Cattle Country…Gods Heterosexual Cattle Country.

That video is horrifying. And I fully expect that similar situations are going on across the country. Well, I do now.

If I were made governor tommorow, I would post police officers at the door, keep a tight record of who goes in and out, individually poll each representative for their vote, and publically release who was absent from what vote (which would either be treated as an automatic abstention, or follow to the majority vote for their party).

I would continue this way, in spite of how much it would gum up the government, until the legislature set aside money to replace the voting equipment with biometrics hardware. If we can cost-effectively put finger-print scanners on desktop computers, a state legislature can use them for voting. I would emphasize that voting is a rep’s entire job, and if they can’t be there to vote, they don’t get a vote, and they can explain to their constituency why they should continue to earn a paycheck for not doing their fucking job.

From the video:

(Arnie Weiss)
“This seems very inappropriate and they should do something about it.”

THEY should do something about it?

Alright, we’ll vote on it! :smack:

They earn…7200 bucks a year salary. Unfortunately, we get what we pay for here in the lone star state.

One thing the story didn’t make clear was whether or not there was an agreement between the absent legislators and their desk mates on how to vote on a particular bill. Let’s say Senator Aardvark has to be away from his desk for two hours to meet with his concubine, or to get chemotherapy - whatever - and he tells his desk mate, Senator Bozo, that if the vote on SB 123 comes up to please vote “Nay” for him. That’s a bit different than having Sen. Bozo vote however he wants on any open desk.

Not that that justifies the behavior, but it does make it a wee bit more palatable.

Unfortunately, I suspect that this is fairly common practice among many other voting bodies with electronic voting capabilities. Do any other Dopers have any insight on whether or not this goes on in their states.

There is no doubt in my mind that this happens in other states. Texas ain’t all that special.

I’m so angry I could spit AND shit. What the hell!? And it’s so ironic that they were voting on voting legislation impacting the rest of us. I guess we’re just little people who can’t be trusted, not like the fancy, suit-wearing, sacks-of-shite that we’re dumb enough to elect year after year.

I hate them all so much. They should all burn in hell.

Well, the whole state is complicit in this behavior, not only by continuing to elect people who engage in this sort of behavior, but by continuing to work under a constitution that allows the state legislature to sit in regular session only every other year, and for a total of 140 calendar days from the first sitting.

While the idea of keeping government to a minimum might be appealing to some folks, the fact is that all the people of Texas are getting with this constitutional requirement is the appearance of small government. The politicians in Austin are still liable to the same types of influence peddling and pork barreling and corruption as any other politician—they just have to cram it all into a smaller period of time.

Maybe not special, but there are, as i suggested, specific institutional and procedural constraints that make this sort of shit more likely in Texas. When you have to vote on a whole bunch of stuff, and have a very limited number of days to do it, these sort of short cuts become more appealing.

Is your location field correct?

I wasn’t aware that the Texas legislature held jurisdiction over voting procedures in Richmond, Virginia. :slight_smile:

And the day after tomorrow, everything would be back the way it was and the Texas Lieutenant Governor – who oversees much of the state legislature, and by most accounts is more powerful than the governor – would be admiring your testicles as they float in a jar on his desk.

You’re right. They aren’t voting on anything that directly affects me.

But Republicans all over are clamoring for similar legislation. One day, Texas could be used as a model that other states could follow.

Is there a way to find out if other state legislators are as guilty of doing this as Texas’? That’s what I’m dying to know.

I’m not sure, although many legislatures, including the national Congress, have long used a slightly different method of making their votes count if they can’t be there to vote in person.

Two members of the legislature, who are intending to vote on opposite sides of the bill, will each agree to be absent for the vote. That way, the absence of one “Yes” cancels out the absence of one “No,” and vice versa. Basically, it involves a sort of gentleman’s agreement to abstain. I think there’s a proper term for it, but i can’t for the life of me remember what it is right now.

For example, there’s a vote coming up that would mandate the provision of crack to public schoolchildren.

Now, as a good liberal, i firmly believe that schoolchildren should have access to crack during recess, so i support the bill wholeheartedly. But i need to go and observe a third-trimester dilate-and-extract abortion this afternoon, so i can’t make the vote.

My conservative colleague opposes the bill, arguing that supplying crack to schoolchildren should be left to the private sector. But he’s also booked up downloading kiddie porn and servicing a glory hole in an airport bathroom, so he won’t be able to make the vote either.

The two of us get together and agree that neither of us will attend the vote, thus canceling each other out and ensuring that neither side benefits or suffers from our absence.

There was a story like this in California recently, but a state senator was in the assembly chamber and pushed a button for an absent assembly member.

Thankfully, everybody flipped out over it, the story was in the news, and IIRC the senator ultimately apologized and said it would not happen again.

I don’t know if the state assembly members would object to members of the assembly doing this kind of thing. I imagine they would.

Our state senate votes via verbal roll call, so that’s not as much of an issue as long as you get person of the same sex voting in your stead.

While the practice strikes me as unseemly (and the “we don’t take bathroom breaks” defense is entirely lame), I don’t see it as a threat to representative democracy. I’m certain this is being done with the absent legislators’ consent. Otherwise, the absent legislators would raise hell afterward, and the practice would quickly cease. Also, most votes taken in any legislature are relatively uncontentious – routine procedural motions, resolutions naming July “Texas Armadillo Appreciation Month”, etc. If there is a vote where the outcome is in any doubt, I’d imagine that legislators find a way to make it to the floor.

You’re assuming that legislators care. I mean, if they can’t see fit to be there to vote, then why should we assume they would care enough to fight if someone was voting against their wishes?

The video also shows representatives voting across parties, seemingly going around and playing “smash the pretty buttons” at every unoccupied seat. Maybe that’s not what was happening and it just appeared as such. But if it were happening, they’d be no way to stop it.

That’s my take on it, too. If I was out and found that someone had vote for me, and did so in the opposite way I would have done it, I’d raise a stink. If the legislators don’t care, as **monstro **suggests might be the case, then what the fuck good are they anyway?

Sure, but isn’t that part of the general critique here? It’s not just anger at the people pushing the absentees’ buttons; it’s more general anger at the apparent apathy or irresponsibility of legislators who are paid to, you know, legislate.