Let's See Every Vote.

The Michell Daily Republic publish a story about Representative Stace Nelson (R-Dist. 25) and his efforts to get the LRC web site changed to show every vote that legislators make

State lawmakers wrangle over whether to post voting records online

The South Dakota Legislature has spent 85 years recording its legislators? voting records. A freshman representative is now working to make sure the public has better online access to every vote cast.

A little better then half into the story we get this:

?The problem is, he?s not following proper procedure,? (Representative) Turbiville (R-Deadwood) said. ?Being a former military individual, I?m surprised he?s not following the chain of command.?
Turbiville said every other legislator who wants to change the legislative process goes through the Legislative Procedure Committee, which Nelson never approached and to which Turbiville referred Nelson several times, Turbiville said.

What Chain of Command?  Representative Nelson answers directly to the voters of district 25.  There is no one between us and him.  There may be a process or a procedure to getting things done, but no Chain of Command. The party may have a hierarchy, but there is no Command and Control function.  If Representative Nelson wants to issue a press release on every vote he casts, he is welcome to do so.  Representative Nelson  works for the people of district 25, and no one else, not Representative Turbiville or Senator Rave, or even the Governor.

A few paragraphs down…

Nelson said he had a hard time getting research for his proposal to enhance the website. So, when he was invited to present his idea to the Legislative Procedures Committee, he did not have the proper information he needed.
?I asked the LRC for information and Turbiville said not to provide it,? Nelson said. ?If they don?t give me the material to present, I can?t present.?

I thought the LRC was suppose to serve every legislator equally, regardless of their station.   So how is it that Representative Turbiville can block Representative Nelson’s access to research information that was requested without the LRC violating their confidentiality oaths?

From Representative Turbiville:

?The website, as it currently exists, does everything that we want it to,? he said. ?The website allows an individual to pull up any bill and determine where it is in the process, and it also indicates how each individual votes.?,

Who is this ‘we’ Representative Turbiville is referring to;  The Executive Committee, the legislators, the LRC?  When I have to pull up the house or senate journal and scroll through several pages just to find one little vote,  then the web site maybe working, but not the way we, the public wants.  I know the current site is issue/bill driven, when the legislature is session, that is what we care about, however, come election time, we will be looking at the voting record of our representatives.  I suppose this might be a way to hide the true voting records, and make it public at the same time.

33 Replies to “Let's See Every Vote.”

  1. Voter

    ?The website, as it currently exists, does everything that we want it to,?
    It hides the records from the public so that it is difficult to see just exactly who each Representative represents. It makes it easier for the leadership to get the votes that it needs to bring more Federal dollars and therefore more socialism to South Dakota.
    And that is exactly what Rep Turbiville wants.

    We the People want to be able to click on Turbiville’s name and see EVERY SINGLE VOTE that he made–including the smoke out votes! We want to be able to search and sort those votes so that we can clearly see where he stands on EVERY ISSUE–and we want to be able to use that information to inform the public on exactly what he had voted for and against at election time. Turbiville is obviously afraid. He doesn’t want We the People to be able to search and publish his record…I wonder who he is trying to impress and please..and how much is in it for him…both during the time that he “serves” and after he has completed his term.

  2. Bean There

    South Dakota has one of the best legislative web sites in the nation. The emphasis is on legislation and not legislators. With a few mouse clicks and a little time I can put together every final passage and recorded procedural vote Representive Nelson has cast. Why all the protest about a solution in search of a problem?

  3. Garry

    Simply put not all votes are recordable. Some votes are by voice in unison, either yea or nay, therefore unrecordable unless a roll call vote is asked for. Even at that if a roll call is asked for support is shown only by those standing in support of the request, still no roll call in support of request and nothing recorded. Other procedures as well only require standing for show of support. Those are the rules that govern and move the legislative process along. If one is not comfortable with that they only need to make a request of the legislative procedure committee to change the rules that govern the legislative process at sometime prior to the start of the legislative process in January. All things are not as simple as black and white, and must be fully understood before implying something was done wrong or that a cover-up was intentionly applied.

  4. J Rae

    OK tail…wag the dog!

    By the way voter…when you use “We the People” it means everyone! Not just those that have signed on to the Tea Party or any other fringe group that comes along and hijacks those 3 words. You don’t have consensus and neither does the Tea Party. So please…stop using “We the People” and diminishing it’s value. Thanks


    We the People

  5. Stace Nelson

    What Voter said is exactly what scares politicians. I realize that not everyone is going to agree with my every vote; however, since I vote on each issue on its merits, I am prepared to explain my actions to my constituents.

    My loyalties are to the chain of command and exactly where MC said they should be, the voters.

    Contrary to the smoke that have been thrown out, the only thing being discussed are recorded votes.

    We have a staff programmer paid 365 days a year to update/correct/change the South Dakota Legislature’s website. Cost to ADD these requested services to South Dakotans is $0. Claiming there is a cost, when we don’t include such claims of costs when we bring any other bill that will require updates to online resources, is ridicules.

    This is still in the idea stage as I have so far been denied research answers to my initial inquiries because Mr Fry continues to say “his boss” Rep. Turbiville instructed as such. I could have sworn that the 105 legislators shared the LRC and it was supposed to provide impartial services to each. I guess I did not get the memo to the contrary, or maybe o’l Chuck simply told them not to send it to me. 😀

  6. grudznick

    I don’t know much about programming webs but if it costs $0 then I just don’t get why these LRC people don’t do what their boss. Or one of their bosses. Tells them to do.

    I wonder if when they fix it they could make the vote tally be faster because most of the time when I’m looking at a bill it takes until the next day to see what happened. And sometimes I can’t hear the link with the sound thats live or they all yell at the same time and I have no idea who voted what.

  7. Anon

    Indeed a solution looking for a problem. I’ve never in almost twenty years of following legislation and votes have i ever had a problem finding one. Plus every committee and floor action is recorded and archived. Every brilliant speech and stupid comment.

    What is being proposed is an effort to make a laundry list of votes a political list. His is a request of format of votes already available. And I suppose he would also want to prioritize so that just the key issues in his mind were listed.

    1. grudznick

      Senator Anon, why would you object to the young Representative having a list of votes shown in an easy to read list? And in a bigger typestyle too, if I had my way, but I can zoom in. It hurts no one to show these public votes. What is this LRC hiding that they are working for a handful and not for all?

  8. anonymous

    Watching and reading about this issue is getting really tiresome. A classic case of the blind leading the blind.

    What Rep. Nelson is asking, is not just a simple tweak in the state’s website, it’s a change to the procedures found in Robert’s Rules, a political handbook used all across the country, that is designed to promote fair debate and openness to the political “process”.

    One of the reasons for rules such as these, is to ensure that a politician, or a political party, doesn’t manipulate the system to portray the votes of its’members as something that may not necessarily be true.

    Washington has found a way around this, they tack amendments onto bills that they can use at election time. They might add language to a bill that is harmful to something like ethanol, on a bill that is overall positive to agriculture, just so they can say that Sen. such-and-such voted against ethanol.

    So far, South Dakota has been able to avoid those sort of twisted ploys in its’ state legislature. What Rep. Nelson is asking would change that.

    The vote he demands to be public record, is a vote to override a committee decision. Not a vote on the issue itself, which was not debated before the lawmakers were asked to vote.

    A committee exists in the legislature that reviews requests to tweak the process in South Dakota. They meet once a year, one day before the start of session, to review these requests. That’s where Rep. Nelson needs to make his case. Not mid-session at LRC, or not on the blogs.

    I really doubt the committee will make his change, because it would open a loophole to let the minority party record smoke out votes on every onerous bill, only for later political purposes.

    The rules of the legislature are sometimes confusing, but they have a purpose. It takes many years of working with them to totally understand why they exist, but eventually it becomes clear that we’re better off with them than without them.

    I would hope Rep. Nelson soon realizes that very few legislators ever get their arms around the nuances of the rules, and the need for them, in just one year of service.

        1. Anonymous

          Read between the lines, this person has the same style as another arrogant poster who went on and on and believes he is someone.

  9. Stace Nelson

    Funny you mention the 1915 Roberts Rules, especially when it proves my point http://www.rulesonline.com/rror-02.htm First off, our legislative rules are what the South Dakota Legislature goes by http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/General.aspx and they deviate from Roberts Rules repeatedly. They are also not complicated rocket science as portrayed above.

    While it may be politically advantageous for some to hide their votes, especially when they vote against their party platform, there is nothing within the 1915 rules that say we should hide recorded votes from the public. It is as simple as if you support the issue in the bill, you vote for a 7-7 ?smokeout? recorded vote, if you are against you vote no. Any other excuse of ?I was for the bill but against the unoffending 7-7 motion procedure? is a politicians answer.

    Sooo.. the world will come to an end if we post all the recorded votes so that the public has the ability to see how their elected officials voted? We mere mortals just need to trust our superiors? master tragedies that we cannot understand because we were not interns within our own government?

    You tell me folks, listen to the House & Judiciary recordings on major bills and see if I got those tricky nuances down. The 4 bills that I got passed into law, one of which I carried by getting it in late through a committee http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/Bill.aspx?Bill=1256
    The 15 commemorations, the 1 House Concurrent Resolution http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/MemberBills.aspx?Member=179

    Huh, seems like the big ugly guy from Fulton got his big ape arms around a little there this last session.

    The real irony here folks is that the people who do NOT want these RECORDED votes put online for easy access are the ones that claim guys like me don?t know what we are doing and are voting wrong when we support the GOP party platform.

    I have a novel idea, why not let the chain of command (voters) see how we accomplished their mission (party platform) by giving them an easy to access report of the votes that were cast?

  10. grudznick

    I hardly think this issue is bigger than life and twice as ugly, but this young Representative from district 25 does seem to have everybody in a headlock, and he’s eatin’ beans straight outta the can.

    Mr. Turboville and Mr. Fry probably have their hands full right now trying to explain why they won’t help Mr. Nelson.

  11. anonymous

    Sorry Stace, but it’s painfully obvious that you’ve proved my point.

    By the way, I’ve been looking online for the votes on those 15 commemorations you sponsored…

  12. Les

    Somebody correct me on this with my painfully poor memory here.

    A few years back a young Sen/Rep from Gettysburg not sure couldn’t get his bill through committee and took it straight to the floor where it either passed or made considerable noise.

    He was promptly called in to Gov Rounds office for bypassing the process and responded, Governor, the people of XXXX district elected me to represent them.

    I think he missed out on the process in his first year/term and was/is highly respected back home as well.

    Of course this is all to the best of my recollection your honor.

  13. Garry Moore

    The legislative process is governed by Mason’s Rules I believe, not Robert’s Rule. That might be what is leading to some of the confusion around rules of order.

  14. Troy Jones

    There is only one side to this issue. Those opposed are hiding something or corrupt. Any response they have is being a politician for there is no legitimate reason to disagree. Only one side cares about the interest of the voters. Only one side is a real Republican. Everyone else might as well be Democrats.

    I have seen the light. We almost could get distracted to discuss an issue that really matters.

    P.S. This is my only post on this issue.

    1. Stace Nelson

      Mr. Jones,
      My first response, when asked to run for office, was not only “no” but “hell no!” I spent a career dealing with people lying & distorting their stories for self serving purposes and all I wanted was to be a better father & enjoy the peace at home that I earned. I later felt guilty as I had never said no to this country in all the years of my life, and I grudgingly accepted my duty and ran for office. I did so on my terms, one of which was by ignoring all political conventional wisdom, answering every questionnaire, knocking on every door I could (regardless of party), & by looking folks in the eye and telling them where I stood on the issues… and meaning it.

      I got it, you don’t like common people like me that get elected that don’t want to play the political games and be part of the process of going along to get along. I assure you, I am okay with that.

      There is no legitimate reason for hiding the votes or for protecting the problems with the director LRC, that trumps the rights of the voters or the integrity of our legislative process. If you were not so busy shooting at the messenger, you might actually realize those ugly truths.

      Any issue that adversely affects South Dakotans, is clearly an issue that matters. When people cannot trust the integrity of their government, it breeds apathy, distrust, anger, resentment… you know, kind of what we are seeing across the United States.

      1. Stace Nelson

        P.S. In regards to Republican principles in these matters, my position is supported by South Dakota Republicans: http://southdakotagop.com/pdf/2010_SDGOP_PLATFORM_FINAL.PDF

        “5.10 The South Dakota Republican Party recognizes that voting is the cornerstone of our republic. It is a right, privilege, and responsibility that should not be taken for granted,
        and must be treated with dignity and safeguarded from fraud…”

        “5.13 The South Dakota Republican Party believes the free flow of information empowers and energizes a republic and serves to keep the process of government honest and robust.”

      2. Troy Jones

        I’ve seen the light. Everything I said before was a “lie and distortion” to serve my own purpose, especially a desire to restrict the free flow of information and have fraudulent elections. I feel convicted I haven’t accepted my duty to run for office, support common people running for office (Abdnor, Thune, Noem, Wick et. al. are such elitists) and have shot at the messenger who knows what is best for the Republican Party, voters, and America. I’m sorry I defended people who I have only seen act with integrity over the course of many years of direct contact and observation. I recognize now my sincerity, motives, and judgment is all flawed and it is impossible to see an issue differently with regard to its substance, merit, or importance.

        This is why I asked to be removed as a contributor to the Dakota War College.

        1. Stace Nelson

          Mr. Jones,
          I have seen people attack others viciously and then claim to be a victim; however, you bring that type of feigned injury to an all new low. WOW!

          You are NOT quoting any statement I made about you and I sure did not attack the people you cite.

          The past discussions were not personal; however, you chose to perceive and then make them as such because you could not win the asinine argument that it is okay to hide recorded legislative votes & allow misconduct by the Dir LRC.

          You defended practices that fly in the face of what is ethically right, what is advocated within the South Dakota Republican Party Platform, and which other South Dakotans clearly disagreed with you on, because it is part of a process that you feel is needed outside of our laws & rules.

          This whole name dropping shtick and claims that concerns about active problems observed in our state legislature somehow malign these unrelated & unmentioned (other than your name dropping) people?

          Simply ridicules…

  15. Troy Jones

    Stace, you clearly believe my position is asinine, I desire to “hide recorded votes” and “allow misconduct.” You question my ethics by saying I defended what is not “ethically right” and that I oppose the Republican Platform. You assert I oppose “common people” serving in elected office. Yet I shouldn’t consider them personal attacks? But please don’t flatter yourself that you believe you have made me feel like a victim or have injured my delicate psyche.

    During my years here, I’ve had many things said about me (some true and some false). I’m much more of an outsider than insider for all of my years around politics.

    I admit I’ve enjoyed the rabble-rouser label as I have equally questioned friend and foe, those I support and oppose when I disagree. While never giving much concern what people who didn’t know me said about me, I’ve always taken pride in those who know me might disagree with me, get angry with me but they’ve never said I was dishonest or of ill-motive. Only people who I’ve never met have said these things about me.

    This said, I am not leaving the War College because of anything you have said about me. It has been brewing for a long time. But our “discussion” kept reinforcing what I’ve been growing more and more frustrated with.

    When I got active in politics, it was the norm to fight hard on the issues and in elections but have relationships on all sides. Now it is hard to have even relationships within your own party unless you conform universally to certain views on all issues with regad to position, import, and merit. Disagreements on anything can lead one to be considered suspect as a Republican, subject to accusations of corruption and being asinine.

    In the last year and half, I’ve had the opportunity to examine what I value and the fights I’m willing to fight. During this time, I’ve forced myself to pick up the “sword” and fight on political matters I care about. Afterwards, each time I felt a bit empty because I questioned what it was doing to serve some more fundamental matters of import to me.

    For me, politics has an inherent personal aspect. Many of the Republicans I mention that you consider name dropping, I really like as human beings (Abdnor, Thune, Mickelson, Janklow, Schoenbeck, Knudson, Rounds, Turbiville, Abdullah, Hoffman, Cronin, Brown and so many others). I also like McGovern, Wollman, Kneip, Lars Herseth (never met SHS), Jim Burg, Steve Hillenbrand, Jim Abbott, Pat Kane, Jack Billion, Klouchek, and many others).

    And there have been others who I don’t know personally very well if at all who I came to really respect (Gil Koetzle is a Dem who comes to mind) by observing the integrity with which they fought for their issues even though we mostly disagreed.

    Stace, I disagree with your characterization of the issue (hiding votes), the character of the people who oppose your position, and the solution you propose. Nothing you have said makes me reconsider my position. I couldn’t care less how that makes you feel about me.

    But the fact it leads you to call me names, question my intelligence and integrity, and led me to respond in ways I’m not proud of does cause me to evaluate what participating in the current political blog environment does to make me be the person I aspire to be as well as whether my participation brings out the best in others.

    Right now, I’m doubtful it is all-in-all positive, especially for me. Does this mean I won’t make comments in the future? Probably not. Sometimes I can’t help myself. Might I get back in the swing of things later? Maybe. Will I miss the give and take? Yes. But not as much as I miss other things.

    1. Stace Nelson

      Mr. Jones,
      The only thing you did not attribute to me was global warming, the earthquake in Pierre, and the missing Roanoke Colony.

      Aside from Mr. Jones, any other offensive names that you chose to slip on were ones you contrived from your imaginative reading of my posts.

      The rest, I can only say is “Wow!”

    2. MC Post author

      I am sadden that Mr. Jones has decided to step back. He has many times brought a true conservative point of view to many discussions.

      I understand his statement;

      In the last year and half, I?ve had the opportunity to examine what I value and the fights I?m willing to fight. During this time, I?ve forced myself to pick up the ?sword? and fight on political matters I care about. Afterwards, each time I felt a bit empty because I questioned what it was doing to serve some more fundamental matters of import to me.

      Win, lose or draw, I have to wonder if the gains were worth the cost. I wish I could say this is limited to just political fights, its not. Over the past two years or so, I have been forced to examine what is truly important, what ideas and I willing to fight for, and what ideas am I willing to die for. I would like to say I am willing to fight to the end for X, Y and Z ideas, unfortunately, that is not the case. It is a constant struggle day in and day out.

      On to the issue that brought Mr. Jones and Representative Nelson to words here:

      I agree with the Honorable Representative from Fulton, Votes that affect legislation should be made public, and some how linked to the representatives casting the vote and to the bill(s) the vote affects. These votes should not be buried in pages of the house or senate journal. In web programming there is something known as the ‘Three click rule’ If a person can’t find what they are looking for in three clicks(no scrolling) they are gone to another site. In this case, the LRC site is the only place to find the information they should make it easier to track down.

      I also agree with the gentleman from Sioux Falls. The vote in questioned was technically not a vote on the merits of the bill itself. It was a procedure vote, weather or not the bill in question should be brought to the house floor for a debate and a vote, weather or not the committee did its job. There is a process to bring concerns to the proper committee, in and out of session. While not perfect, it has been tested, and in most cases works well. Be mindful of the toes you step on today, because tomorrow you may have to kiss the ass attached to those toes. The party is there to help, not hinder.

      I believe the key here is education. Education for the non-legislator & some legislator types explain how & why things work. The Teenage Republicans do it, why not for older folks. A citizens legislature academy of sorts.

      Meanwhile, Mr. Jones, I do not envy the road ahead of you nor the demons you must overcome. Please try to keep in mind Rodney Atkins advice:

      If you’re going through hell, Keep on going, don’t slow down, If you’re scared, don’t show it, You might get out, Before the devil even knows you’re there

      You are welcome back anytime. Try not to take too long.

  16. Troy Jones

    Representative Nelson,

    No decisions I have made has ever had you as a principal catalyst. I am sorry I gave you that impression.

    Whatever contrived interpretations of your posts my overly imaginative mind have been forgotten.

    Best wishes.

  17. anon

    Thanks for your insights, Troy, I always enjoy them. You are 100% correct on this issue. I’m guessing a couple years from now, Rep. Nelson will understand the system better, and agree with you too.

    1. Stace Nelson

      Rep. Nelson had 23 years experience with the vaunted “gray area” of the law that others tout as needing to be recognized & adhered to for special people.

      The day will never come when I use a solemn voice, look off in the distance (to avoid voters eyes) and state that I voted against a smoke out because I was against the procedure due to the sacredness of our committee process, even though I was for the bill… 😀

      But I shouldn’t have to ever worry about that, because such full recorded votes of the House are not major action or final disposition on a bill! 😀

      For Sale: Ocean front property, in Hanson County…


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