The day that State Rep. Allen Skillicorn attended the Milk Day Parade in Harvard, someone punched his button when the approximately noon roll call was taken.
Apparently there were votes taken to which all who were found in attendance were recorded as a “Yes” vote. These would be non-controversial measures, such as, congratulatory resolutions.
Last week, the Northwest Herald asked Skillicorn about the impossibility of being at two places at the same time.
He said that he had asked to be taken off the roll calls on which he had been recorded as voting, but for which was not in the chamber.
During the later years when I was in Springfield, if one was recording voting a way that one did not to vote, all one could do was stand up and make a statement to the effect, “Let the record reflect that I was recorded voting (yes or no) when I should have voted the opposite.”
It is common practice that staff members and seatmates vote members’ switches when they are not on the floor.
This is a practice that no visitor can understand or condone, but the fact of the matter is that being a legislator involves more than sitting in one’s seat all the time. (Think of being in a backroom bill drafting session.)
“We pay our legislators to vote their own switches,” is a comment that I have heard.
Skillicorn did tell the NWH, “The fact is, the afternoon when we debated real bills, I was there, and spoke on these bills and really went after that tax hike.”
Indeed, Skillicorn’s opponent Carolyn Schofield has filed a complaint with the Legislative Ethics Commission complaining about the situation.
She based her complaint on the House Journal, which shows that between 12:01 and 3:11 PM, there are many voice votes, but there are also 23 regular votes requiring someone to punch a button.
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Cal Skinner’s Ghost Vote
When I had ambitions to be U.S. Senator, I scheduled a flight out of O’Hare to Washington that forced me to leave before the House session was over.
It was the day that the legislator voted to raise salaries by 40%–from $20,000 to $28,000.
This was during the rampant inflation of the late 1970’s.
As a full-time legislator, this was my total source of income and inflation had taken a big bite out of its purchasing power.
I voted for the pay raise, got in the car with my wife and drove to the airport.
A deal had been cut between Governor Jim Thompson and the legislative leaders for Thompson to immediately veto the bill and, then, the House and the Senate would override his veto.
Thompson wasn’t even in town, so his auto-pen provided the veto signature.
One can lock one’s voting switch by removing a key.
I had not done so and someone voted me for the override.