Tip of the Week: How to Search for a Roll Call Vote

Exploring HeinOnline, Tip of the Week, Tips and Tricks, U.S. Congressional Documents
Lauren Mattiuzzo

Have you ever wondered how a specific U.S. congressperson voted on an issue? Roll call, a process where members of Congress vote when their name is called by a clerk, is recorded so their constituents know how they voted on certain measures. Join us in today’s blog as we explore how to search for a roll call vote in the U.S. Congressional Documents database.

Full-Text Searching for a Roll Call Vote

Let’s say we’re researching presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, a United States senator, and her stance on certain issues. Back in February, she voted on a bill to amend title 18 of the United States Code regarding the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Under this act, legal protection is extended to an infant born alive after a failed attempt at induced abortion. The amendment proposed requirements for the medical care of infants born after failed abortions, and also included punishments of up to five years in jail for doctors for not complying. The bill fell short of the 60 votes it needed to move forward, 53 senators voting in support of the measure and 44 against it.

To see how Senator Warren voted on this matter, navigate to the U.S. Congressional Documents database. Let’s assume we know that the roll call vote number is 27 and that it occurred on February 25, 2019. Using the Advanced Search option within this database, search the text for Rollcall vote no. 27, February 25, Warren, and enter the year 2019 for the date range. See the example below.

This search will yield 1 result, which is the listing of roll call votes recorded. Simply click the Turn to page link in the result to view the document.

Read through the roll call votes to find that Senator Warren voted “nay” on this proposed amendment.

If we did not have the roll call vote number, we can still search using the full text. This time, let’s utilize the Full Text tab. Enter “rollcall vote” AND “February 25, 2019” AND abortion into the Full Text tab and click the search button.

Although this search yields more results, the first result is exactly what we need! Again, simply click the Turn to page link to be brought to the roll call votes.

Are you a visual learner? We have a video for that! Check out this quick tutorial for a similar example of how to search for a roll call vote in the U.S. Congressional Documents database.

U.S. Congressional Documents LibGuide

Stay in the know with the U.S. Congressional Documents database, which is packed with congressional hearings, committee prints, CRS Reports, the Serial Set, and much more! View our LibGuide for more help with searching and browsing this enormous database.

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