Bernie Sanders isn’t the only senator missing votes this year

His absenteeism may not be as sensational as a single headline infers.

Bernie Sanders met with Rev. Al Sharpton on Wednesday in New York, the same day the Senate voted on North Korean sanctions.
Bernie Sanders met with Rev. Al Sharpton on Wednesday in New York, the same day the Senate voted on North Korean sanctions. –Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images

As predicted, the heightened post-New Hampshire scrutiny of Bernie Sanders has begun.

The Boston Globereported Tuesday that Sanders has cast just one vote in 2016. According to congressional records, the Vermont senator has missed 22 of 23 votes since the legislative calendar began January 11, including an unanimous vote on North Korean sanctions.

Sanders’ voting record over the past month makes him the most absent among his colleagues, including those running for president. The Globe report came just as Hillary Clinton’s campaign and allies began circulating questions this week about Sanders’ 25-year record in Congress and the Senate.

Given the voting records of other presidential candidates, his absenteeism may not be as sensational as the headline might infer.


Fellow presidential hopeful Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has made just two of 23 votes this year, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has cast a total of three votes. Both Republicans were, however, present for the 96-0 vote to sanction North Korea.

Attacks between the two Democratic candidates have recently intensified following Clinton’s narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses and Sanders’ blowout win in New Hampshire.

“It is unfortunate that yet again, Sen. Sanders has shown a lack of interest in vital national security issues, failing to vote on sanctions against the country he said poses the greatest threat to the United States,’’ Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson told the Globe.

It’s unclear if the charge of absenteeism will stick to Sanders as it has for Rubio. Missing votes is par for the course for presidential candidates. And given more perspective, it seems Sanders’ longer-term record is actually above-average when compared with other candidates.

According to, a legislature tracking website, Sanders missed 50 of 307 votes during the last 12 months, compared to Rubio, who missed 118 votes, and Cruz, who missed 100. Since the Vermont senator took office in 2007, he has missed 121 of 2,855 roll-call votes for a lifetime absenteeism rate of 4.2 percent.


His participation rate also fares favorably against the senators who ran for president in 2008.

From February 8, 2007 to Feburary 7, 2008 –the day before the New Hampshire primary — Clinton, then a New York senator, missed 110 of 410 votes. The eventual 2008 presidential nominees, then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and Arizona Sen. John McCain, missed 174 and 254 votes, respectively, during that same period.

During Clinton’s eight-year tenure in the Senate, she missed 249 of 2,616 roll-call votes, a career rate of 9.5 percent.

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