Accountability is the watchword over at MassScorecard.org
Q: What is the purpose of the Mass Scorecard?
A: Our mission is to provide information to the voting public about how legislative voting records relate to the Massachusetts Democratic Party. Our purpose is to expose voting records to the public, and to show the degree to which each legislator adheres to the party platform.
Q: Why voting records?
A: First, they’re unambiguous – a yes or no statement on a particular issue. Second, there’s an official record maintained by the Massachusetts government. And third, “surveys suggest a strong desire by citizens to see the voting records of their lawmakers,” as reported in the New York Times. The Massachusetts legislature’s voting records are impenetrable to the voting public, and there are no websites to provide that information
Q: How will you decide on which votes to use?
A: Our criteria for selecting votes are:
- Count only roll call votes -- no voice votes, no bill sponsorships, etc.
- No omnibus legislation (such as vote on the entire budget bill, because the purpose of the legislator's vote is unclear).
- No constituent service votes, nor any votes that apply primarily to one locality (such as funding for a hospital or court in one legislator's district, since the vote depends more on geography than on one's stance on the issues).
- Count only one vote in a series of amendments, or only one vote on any given topic (to avoid over-weighting one issue over others).
- No unanimous or near-unanimous votes which likely have some other political component hidden from the apparent vote.
- Count only votes that clearly address a platform issue, as expressed in the platform, and as the core issue of the vote.
- Vet all votes by confirming with Democratic State Committee representatives on a confidential basis that the selected votes meet the criteria above, that the descriptions and platform links are fair and accurate, and that the vote is a fair representation of the legislators’ views of the corresponding section of the party platform.
Q: What about Republican legislators?
A: We will score Republicans in the same manner as we’re scoring Democrats, with their votes compared to the Democratic Party Platform. of course Republicans have no obligation to adhere to the Democratic platform, and presumably their scorecard percentages will reflect a much lower adherence rate. We think citizens will find the Republicans’ votes much less in alignment with the Massachusetts electorate than the Democrats’ votes, which is one of the motivating factors for our creation of the Mass Scorecard.