Site Updates – Fall 2012

From a new start page to improved maps, here’s what we’ve been working on this fall:

There is a new Start page to find something to track and get email updates for, and you can now get email updates on full text keyword searches. So if you want to track something that is not one of the subject terms listed on the bills page, you can now make your own search for it.

The Members of Congress overview page now has some handy information on the number of Members of Congress by party.

The missed vote %‘s for Members of Congress, such as on the page for Senator Coats, are now computed a little differently:

  • A bug introduced in June caused some votes toward the end of 1976 to be skipped. That’s now corrected.
  • For Members of Congress who served non-continuously in Congress (e.g. lost an election but won a later election) we were not counting their votes from their earlier terms. We now do.
  • We now compute separate medians for the House and Senate.
  • Because of #3, for Members of Congress that have served in both the House and the Senate, we now compute their missed vote % for their lifetime service only in the chamber they are currently serving in.

We avoid changing numbers just for change’s sake. These changes were a part of our ongoing cleaning-house. The software we originally wrote to compute missed vote %’s is now about 8 years old, and that was holding us back from making other improvements. So we finally bit the bullet and replaced it with something new.

And some other minor changes:

  • Members of Congress with accents in their name, such as Rep. Nydia Velázquez,  now show up in search results when you omit the accent, such as with a search for “Velazquez”.
  • Pages for Members of Congress now properly include “Jr.” and other name suffixes, such as on the page for recently resigned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr..
  • On pages for votes, we now always display the options at the top in the same order: Aye/Yea, No/Nay, Present, Not Voting.
  • The advanced bill search page now has a filter for the party of the sponsor. You can choose the party or select whether it is the majority or minority party, which is helpful when doing a multiple-Congress search since the majority/minority party changes over time.

We’ve also been making improvements to our district maps in preparation for the new districts for the new Members of Congress taking office in January. That lead to the creation of a new API for developers for maps and GIS queries.

And finally, we’ve also been advising Congress on how to make more legislative data available, and we are working on a collaborative project to make the legislative data we have more comprehensive and reliable.


  1. Hi Josh, great website. I set up all sorts of lists and am excited to start tracking. I also really like the spectrum and rep stats charts, but the links to their pages in this and the other analysis posts are broken right now–thought you should know!


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