Votes ‘cast’ despite absence

Wright’s confirmation, which passed 46-6, was passed by use of “the morning roll call.” Those wishing to be marked as voting against had to make the request on the floor. Both McDaniel and Sojourner had been marked present in the morning, so they were counted as voting for the confirmation, even though they weren’t there.

“It’s a part of old, old Senate process that many of us are not terribly happy with,” McDaniel said. “If you’ve been there in the course of a day and been counted present, then later when a bill comes up, unless someone asks for a roll-call vote, then you are an automatic yes vote.”

There is a method, called “pairing” of votes, where an absent senator can have their intended vote noted for the record by another senator who voted the opposite way calling for a paired vote. Shortly before the Wright confirmation, McDaniel and Sojourner were counted as voting “no” on the Senate’s bond bill, or borrowing plan for the coming year. But it appeared McDaniel’s colleagues moved too slow in calling for a roll call vote and pairing on the Wright confirmation a short while after the bond vote.

McDaniel said he’s unsure whether he would have voted to confirm Wright, but “I would have had to ask a few more questions.” He said he, like other Conservative Coalition members, has concerns over her support for implementing national Common Core standards in Mississippi schools.

“I don’t care whether she is in charge or not. I am going to fight Common Core every chance I get,” McDaniel said. “We are going to fight to end it, fight to defund it, fight to stop it.”

Clarion Ledger
3/20/14