How to Research Legislative Voting Records On the Internet

*UPDATE: As of the 2013 session, you can now search roll call votes by individual legislator or proposal.*

For those who wish to research legislative voting records on the Internet, the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) has prepared the following guide. For a detailed explanation of the voting records process, refer to the LRB’s Informational Memorandum IM-97-1, Legislative Voting Records.

1) Access the Wisconsin Legislature's Legislative Documents site at http://docs.wisconsin.gov. From this page, you can access the "Subject Index to Legislation," bill histories, the Senate Journal, and the Assembly Journal. All of these documents are available electronically commencing with the 1995 session. The "Subject Index to Legislation" is an electronic version of the Index to the Bulletin of Proceedings of the Wisconsin Legislature. The Subject Index allows the user to check for introduced legislation by subject. Bill histories are the records of each proposal's progress during the legislative session, and the Senate Journal and Assembly Journal are the records of the daily activities of the Senate and Assembly.

2) To find the legislative session you wish to search (the default is for the current session), click on "Session" under the Archives section, then click on the desired session under "Menus and Histories", then on "Subject Index to Legislation." You may then search by keyword or by clicking on the default subjects. After locating the bill(s) of interest, click on the hyperlink of the bill number listed in the subject index and it will take you to its procedural bill history.

3) The bill history is a chronological record of every step in the legislative process for a proposal. If a roll call vote was taken, a hyperlinked entry with the ayes and nays will be listed. If no roll call is listed, the bill passed on a voice vote, and no further record exists.

4) From the procedural bill history, you can also click on the journal page number which is hyperlinked. Subsequently, you will be linked to the respective daily Senate Journal or Assembly Journal page, which also shows the vote.

Example: How To Research Voting Records

Perhaps you are interested in the issue "drugs" for the 2005-2006 session. The "Subject Index to Legislation" shows a number of bills regarding several subjects that are related to controlled substances. More specifically, you are interested in "methamphetamine" and you locate 2005 Senate Bill 78, which is hyperlinked, and became 2005 Wisconsin Act 14. Following the hyperlink for 2005 Senate Bill 78 takes you to the text of the bill and also a link to its bill history. The bill history shows the dates of each action on the bill. The Senate passed it 33 to 0, and the Assembly concurred in it 92 to 6. The hyperlinked text of the roll call numbers takes you to a tabulation showing how each member voted. You may also view the same information as it appeared in the Senate Journal and Assembly Journal, showing the names separated into all the “ayes” and “nays.”

If you want to view how the member or members voted over time on bills relating to methamphetamine, you can repeat this procedure for other legislative sessions.