Illinois Legislators Defend Present Votes

Stateline.org has reviewed the meaning of “present” votes in the state legislature:

Obama’s former colleagues who still serve in the Illinois Capitol say that the attacks are off-base and that either Obama’s opponents don’t understand how things work in Springfield or they are deliberately distorting his record.

“To insinuate the ‘present’ vote means you’re indecisive, that you don’t have the courage to hold public office, that’s a stretch. But, it’s good politics,” said state Rep. Bill Black (R), a 22-year veteran of the House and his party’s floor leader…

The “present” vote in Illinois is sometimes cast by state lawmakers with a conflict of interest who would rather not weigh in on an issue. Other times, members use the option to object to certain parts of a bill, even though they may agree with its overall purpose.

“The ‘present’ vote is used, especially by more thoughtful legislators, not as a means of avoiding taking a position on an issue, but as a means of signaling concerns about an issue,” said state Rep. John Fritchey (D), an Obama supporter.

There’s further information on voting present both in the entire article quoted above and in this post from last month.

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