Florida Reps. Al Lawson and Frederica Wilson have shown up to vote in person less than 7% of the time since proxy voting began

Democratic Reps. Al Lawson and Frederica Wilson of Florida.
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  • Since the House allowed proxy voting due to the pandemic, some members have seldom voted in person.

  • Two Florida Democrats have voted in person less than 7% of the time over the last two years.

  • Insider identified several other lawmakers, all Democrats, who have mostly voted remotely since May 2020.

Ever since the House of Representatives introduced proxy voting in May 2020, countless lawmakers have opted to use the remote voting procedure in order to keep themselves safe amid the ongoing public health emergency.

That was the novel procedure's original intent, at least. But two years on from the start of the pandemic and following the widespread availability of vaccines and high-quality masks, some lawmakers have continued to mostly vote remotely, asking their colleagues to cast votes on their behalf.

The remote voting procedure is overwhelmingly used by Democrats. Chief among them are Reps. Al Lawson and Frederica Wilson — two Florida Democrats who have showed up in person for less than 7% of all roll call votes in the last two years.

Insider analyzed the data from each of the over 700 roll call votes taken by the House between May 20, 2020 and April 7, 2022, analyzing which members used the practice most frequently.

The Florida duo aren't the only lawmakers who've opted to mostly vote remotely — Insider identified several other Democrats who've cast over 50% of their votes by proxy since May 2020.

Here are the top 10 most frequent proxy voters, including the percentage of votes they've cast remotely:

  • Al Lawson of Florida - 96.5%

  • Frederica Wilson of Florida - 93.6%

  • Bobby Rush of Illinois - 90%

  • Donald Payne of New Jersey - 89.7%

  • Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona - 84%

  • Grace Napolitano of California - 72.4%

  • Grace Meng of New York - 67.1%

  • Raul Grijalva of Arizona - 63.8%

  • Katie Porter of California - 62.7%

  • Al Lowenthal of California - 56.5%

Lawson's communications director, Ayanna Young, defended the congressman's proxy voting habit in a statement to Insider. She did not provide reasons for why Lawson has proxy voted with such frequency.

"Like most Americans, Congress had to make adjustments in the way they work," she said. "Throughout the pandemic Rep. Lawson has maintained a solid 99.3% voting record and has consistently been engaged in his committee work. He continues to work tirelessly to meet the needs of his constituents."

A review of the data found that Lawson, 73, has only shown up in person for 25 votes since proxy voting began. In fact, Lawson hasn't shown up to vote once in 2022.

Otherwise, he's asked Democratic colleagues to vote in his stead, most frequently Democratic Rep. Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania.

Lawson's northern Florida district as it exists was recently eliminated by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida amid redistricting, creating a new district that leans Republican. Lawson told the Tallahassee Democrat that his "plan right now is to be on the ballot."

Rep. Wilson's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Insider. As of April 7, Wilson, who is 79, had showed up for 5 days of voting in 2022 and had voted in person just 46 times since proxy voting began, according to the data.

But Republicans, despite their stated opposition and a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the practice from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have gradually come around to proxy voting as well.

In an interview with Insider, Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia — who's voted on behalf of his colleagues more than any other member of Congress — said that Congress could benefit from guidelines to ensure the practice is not being abused.

"We have a lot of plus-seventies in Congress," said Beyer. "We also have a lot of young people, with families and children, and I think it was really valuable for those folks with kids at home to be able to stay for the parent teacher conference."

Read the original article on Business Insider