Members of the House of Representatives look up to monitor the screen during a roll call vote in June. Ashley Allen/Kennebec Journal, file

The old saying that 80% of success is showing up applies in few places more than the Maine Legislature, where the fate of far-reaching policy decisions can be sealed simply by who is sitting in their seats when a vote is taken.

That was especially true when a historic and hard-fought bill to expand access to abortions came to a vote in June.

Democrats took a five-hour recess to secure enough votes to pass the bill in the House of Representatives. The dramatic pause allowed a Deer Isle lawmaker who was home taking care of her children to load them in the car and make a late-night drive to Augusta. Her vote in favor of the bill was needed after support wavered and a different Democratic lawmaker who missed most of the session with an injury arrived on crutches to vote against the bill.

It can be difficult for constituents to figure out if their representatives are actually showing up for them in Augusta. Neither chamber tracks daily attendance at the State House, where much of the work is done in committee meetings and public hearings. But each chamber does report on the number of roll call votes a senator or representative participates in.

Based on a Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram review of roll call records released to the newspaper, only one of the 36 state senators, a Republican, and 21 of 151 House members – 14 Democrats and seven Republicans – had perfect voting records during the session that began in January and stretched into late July, weeks after the planned adjournment date. But a handful of legislators from both chambers missed more than 20% of the roll call votes.

Roll call votes are typically done on major bills at the request of legislators, while less-significant legislation can be passed or rejected with voice votes that don’t leave any record of who participated. When a lawmaker requests a roll call, members are summoned into the chamber by ringing bells before each lawmaker present registers a yes or no vote by pressing a button at their desk.


Maine has what’s known as a citizen Legislature, which means members who aren’t retired or wealthy have other jobs and careers. But they are paid to do the public’s work during sessions. They currently earn $16,250 for the first session and $11,670 for the second, though that compensation will increase for the next Legislature.

Sen. James Libby, R-Standish Photo courtesy of Maine Legislature

Sen. James Libby, R-Standish, who had the only perfect voting record in the Senate, apparently went to great lengths to ensure he didn’t miss a vote this session, despite his teaching commitments at Colby and Thomas colleges and a long-planned trip with his family.

Libby said he had plans to drive his daughter to Louisville, Kentucky, for a basketball tournament when the Senate was called back to session in late July. He drove down, dropped off his daughter and then spent more than $500 on a round-trip airline ticket so he could return to the Senate, lead the Pledge of Allegiance, cast his votes and return to watch his daughter’s team play.

“I really admire (U.S. Sen.) Susan Collins always getting a 100% record,” Libby said. “I always wanted to have that conviction to the constituents and show that I really appreciate what I’m doing.”

Most state senators – 25 of 36 members – voted in at least 90% of the roll calls, which means they missed no more than 49 of the Senate’s 501 roll call votes.

An additional six senators voted in 80% to 90% of roll calls, missing as many as 93 votes. Three members voted in 70% to 80% of roll calls. They include Assistant Minority Leader Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, who had the Senate’s lowest percentage at 70.9.


Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, speaks on the Senate floor in April 2022. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal, file

Keim said her voting percentage this year was uncharacteristically low because she took time off in June for her daughter’s wedding. During that time, she said the Senate held more than 175 roll calls. She also blamed Democrats for mismanaging the session, which stretched well beyond its original, or statutory, adjournment date of June 21.

“Nearly 25% of the votes I missed were after the statutory adjournment,” Keim said. “If the legislative process hadn’t been so poorly managed – the worst I have seen in my time here – we would have adjourned by June 21, and my family obligations would have had less impact. I have a firm and unwavering commitment to my constituents, as the record of my seven years of service shows.”

In the previous two Legislatures, Keim had a roughly 95% voting record.

Voting records in the 151-member House of Representatives varied significantly, ranging from a group who had perfect scores to two representatives who only voted in just over half of the chamber’s 367 roll calls.

Fourteen House Democrats and seven Republicans voted in 100% of the roll calls, while an additional 97 lawmakers (44 Republicans, 52 Democrats and an independent) voted in more than 90%, missing fewer than 35 votes.

Twenty members (12 Republicans, eight Democrats) voted in 80% to 90% of roll calls, missing between 37 and 71 votes. Seven members (five Democrats and one Republican and independent) voted between 70% and 80% of the time, missing between 78 and 96 votes. And six members (four Republicans and two Democrats) voted less than 70% of the time, missing more than 114 votes.


Rep. Michel Lajoie, D-Lewiston, had the lowest voting record in the House, missing 137 of the chamber’s 367 roll call votes. But Lajoie was officially excused by House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross for all but 10 of those votes after undergoing surgery to reconstruct his left knee. He was the only House member with excused absences.

Rep. Michel Lajoie, D-Lewiston

Lajoie’s extended absence added drama to his appearance during the abortion vote. He said last week that he had a follow-up appointment with his doctor on the day of the abortion vote, and his doctor said he could return to the State House as long as he was careful.

“Seeing that particular bill had come up, I really wanted to get up there,” said Lajoie, one of five Democrats to vote against expanding abortion access. “I would have gone anyway, but that was a motivating factor.”

Lajoie, who is still wearing a leg brace, finished out the session despite his injury.

“When I campaigned and everything, I did that to represent my constituents and the people in the state of Maine,” he said. “It’s important that I fulfill that commitment. I’m the type of person who wants to make sure I accomplish that task.”

Lajoie’s return prompted House leaders to call in Democratic Rep. Holly Eaton to ensure the bill passed. Eaton ended the session with the 10th-lowest voting percentage in the House at 75.8%.


Joseph Galletta, R-Durham, missed the most votes without having any excused absences. He missed 166 roll call votes, resulting in a 54.8% voting record.

Fellow Republican Jeffrey Adams of Lebanon missed 155 votes, resulting in 57.8% voting record.

Neither Galletta nor Adams returned calls or emails requesting an interview to discuss their voting records.

Members in the House of Representatives debate a bill at the Maine State House in Augusta in June. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal, file

Ross, the Portland Democrat and House Speaker, had a perfect voting record, while House Majority Leader Mo Terry, D-Gorham, had a 98.9% record and Assistant Majority Leader Kristen Cloutier, D-Lewiston, had a 96.2% record. The leaders voted with the majority just over 90% of the time.

On the other side of the aisle, House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, had a 99.7% record, and Assistant House Minority Leader Amy Arata, R-New Gloucester, had a 97.3% record. Republican leaders voted with the winning side 25% of the time.

In the Senate, President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, voted in 98.6% of roll calls, while Assistant Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, voted in 94.6% of the roll calls.


Minority Leader Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle, voted in 93.2% of the roll calls.

Sen. Russell Black, R-Wilton File photo

Sen. Russell Black, R-Wilton, said he was “shocked” to learn that he had the Senate’s second-lowest voting percentage at 76.4%, missing 118 votes.

Black, who raises grass-fed beef cattle, said a combination of a wet spring and summer, coupled with a session that went a month longer than normal, forced him to miss a few days at the end of the session.

“I couldn’t afford to miss a couple sunny days at the end of the session when normally we wouldn’t have been there any way,” he said.

“I usually let my haying slide, but this year had been so extremely wet from the first week of June on,” Black continued. “In fact, I’m only at 50% of my hay crop now for my cattle for the winter, so I’m really hurting that way.”

In the previous two Legislatures, Black had a 99% voting record.

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