Ralph Nader and 14 Civic Groups Call on Congressional Leadership to Make Voting Records Available to Public Via Internet

Congressional Voting Record Project (CVRP) Outlines How Congress Could Efficiently Provide Voting Records to Public

Contact: Ralph Nader, (202) 387-8034

Washington, DC, December 30, 2003

Today, Ralph Nader and the Congressional Voting Record Project (CVRP) sent letters to the Senate and House Majority and Minority Leaders and to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert calling on them to make Congressional voting records easily accessible to the public via the internet. The letter included a memo describing how a Congressional resolution revising the mandate for the Library of Congress THOMAS website could provide a database of Congressional voting records, searchable by member and subject, that would be efficient and frugal.

Fourteen civic groups, including the NAACP, Americans for Tax Reform, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Judicial Watch have joined with CVRP to promote better access to Congressional voting records.

In October 2001, a study published by the Congress Online Project, a partnership of the George Washington University and Congressional Management Foundation, found that the information constituents most want to see on their membersí websites is their voting record. Yet a recent New York Times survey found that on Congressional websites, ìonly 11 percent of Senators and 40 percent of Representatives provided some kind of information about their voting recordsî (ìCongress online: Much Sizzle, Little Steak,î by Katherine Q. Seelye, A16, June 24, 2003).

ìProviding accessible, up-to-date voting information is fundamentally a Congressional responsibility,î states the memo included with Naderís letter. ìBy processing voting information through a central Library of Congress (LOC) database, Congressional offices would save money and time. LOC staff would manage this single database rather than each of 535 Congressional offices managing its own. The Library of Congress would then periodically update the database with records of recent votes. Congressional websites would each refer interested constituents to this resource.î

The text of Ralph Naderís letter and list of coalition groups follow.


December 30, 2003

Dear Senator / Representative,

A Congress more accountable to an informed citizenry can only improve our democracy.

On July 11, 2003, I sent you a letter describing the arduous lengths to which most citizens must currently go to compile the voting records of their members of Congress. I asked you what you would do to help remedy this problem.

In the attached memo, my assistant Peter Maybarduk outlines how Congress could provide easily accessible and searchable voting records for all its members to the public. A Congressional resolution revising the mandate for the Library of Congress THOMAS website could provide a database of Congressional voting records, searchable by member and subject, that is efficient and frugal. Members of Congress should then be required to provide a clear link to this information from their websites. I hope you will consider introducing such a measure to the Senate Committee on Government Affairs / Committee on House Administration.

A coalition of 14 civic groups stands ready to support you in this process. The coalition spans the political spectrum, encompasses a diverse constituency and represents a significant grassroots base. It includes, among others, Judicial Watch, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the NAACP and Americans for Tax Reform.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact me at (202) 387.8034.


Ralph Nader

Civic Groups Calling on Congress to Provide Accessible Voting Records to Public:

Americans for Tax Reform
California Public Interest Research Group
Common Cause
Center for Responsive Politics
Citizen Works
Judicial Watch
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Media Access Project
New York Public Interest Research Group
National Resources Defense Council
OMB Watch
Public Citizen
US Public Interest Research Group

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