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Delegate’s aide says ‘intentions to vote’ count as votes

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WTKR) – David Yancey is a freshman delegate from Newport News. Like others, he went home early last week instead of staying in Richmond to cast a vote on a controversial judicial appointment. So, like the others, we wanted to see how often he missed votes. Working with a watchdog group called Richmond Sunlight, we counted more than 100 times Yancey missed votes. We asked to hear his side, but he never responded.

But late last evening, Yancey’s legislative aide Scott Weldon called and said there must be a mistake, Yancey didn’t miss any votes. He then called for the news director demanding the story be changed, and later sent this statement:

“Delegate Yancey submitted a vote on each bill in the General Assembly session. On some rare days, the Delegate was ill, and he submitted his votes upon his return to good health.”

Weldon insisted the delegate had zero missed votes. Richmond Sunlight’s data came directly from General Assembly computers. How could it be so wrong? Was the software full of bugs? Did the General Assembly goof something up?

After hours of research we uncovered this: Delegate Yancey did miss more than 100 votes, as we correctly reported. Sometimes Yancey went to the clerk afterwards and declared how he “would have” voted, but that is not a vote, and it doesn’t count.

Other times, there is no intention listed, just a missed vote. To say Yancey submitted votes on all bills is wrong. So, NewsChannel 3’s Mike Mather wrote to Weldon:

“Are you maintaining that when Del. Yancey missed a vote, and later recorded his intention with the clerk, that I should count that as an actual vote?”

The answer: “As I explained before, Delegate Yancey was ill for 3 days during session. When he returned, he submitted votes on every bill he missed to the Clerk’s office.”

In further emails, the aide repeatedly insisted these were submitted votes, but the House’s own records show they were not.

Mike Mather finally sent this to the aide, and to Yancey directly: “I need to talk to the delegate himself. On camera. Tomorrow.”

He also called the House of Delegates clerk to see if there was any way these “intentions to vote” could be considered actual votes. The answer was no. It’s just something delegates can do to have a record of their positions, but they do not count as votes.

David Yancey (R) 94th District, part of Newport News

Email conversation between Mike Mather and Scott Weldon, legislative aide for Del. David Yancey, R-Newport News

To: Mather, Mike

Subject: Statement From Delegate Yancey

Delegate Yancey submitted a vote on each bill in the General Assembly session. On some rare days, the Delegate was ill, and he submitted his votes upon his return to good health.

Best,

Scott Weldon

Legislative Aide

#####

On May 23, 2012, at 10:16 PM, “Mather, Mike” <Mike.Mather@WTKR.com> wrote:

Scott,

I am still here, working on this problem. Are you maintaining that when Del. Yancey missed a vote, and later recorded his intention with the clerk, that I should count that as an actual vote?

An intention to vote is not an actual vote. There are a lot of “intended to votes” under the delegate’s name.

Here is the data direct from the House’s own vote-recording system. This isn’t the third-party Richmond Sunlight site that aggregates the votes and puts them into a searchable forms, this is the actual House voting system. I put David Yancey’s name in the drop-down menu, and I haven’t counted all of them directly, but it looks like more than the 110 Richmond Sunlight has. 

http://services.dlas.virginia.gov/webservices/frmLISVotIng1.aspx

When you pull up Del. Yancey’s voting records, and click on the vote, you will see the “not voting” notations.

Mike

####

From: Scott Weldon [mailto:scott@yanceyfordelegate.com]

Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 10:32 PM

To: Mather, Mike

Subject: Re: Statement From Delegate Yancey

Mike,

As I explained before, Delegate Yancey was ill for 3 days during session. When he returned, he submitted votes on every bill he missed to the Clerk’s office.

####

On May 23, 2012, at 10:32 PM, “Mather, Mike” <Mike.Mather@WTKR.com> wrote:

But Scott, are you saying those are real votes? Because they are not. The records show he missed those votes.

####

From: Scott Weldon [mailto:scott@yanceyfordelegate.com]

Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 10:38 PM

To: Mather, Mike

Subject: Re: Statement From Delegate Yancey

Mike,

The Delegate was ill, when he recovered he submitted his votes to the Clerk’s office.

Scott

####

From: Mather, Mike

Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 10:55 PM

To: ‘Scott Weldon’

Cc: DelDYancey@house.virginia.gov

Subject: RE: Statement From Delegate Yancey

I need to talk to the delegate himself. On camera. Tomorrow.

You told me that all of my numbers were wrong, that it would be incorrect for us to say he missed 110 votes. I have stayed here hours late, missing a birthday dinner for my triplet boys, working with the House voting records and the director of Richmond Sunlight, going through his votes one-by-one, vigorously checking the claims you submitted at the 11th hour.

Now I know in fact, the House records show he did miss those votes. And in some cases — but not all — he recorded an intention. That is not a vote, and we both know that. In fact, it is listed as “Not voting, intended to vote (whatever).” It’s not a vote under any circumstances or any semantics, and you have tried to make it seem like it was.

If a vote was 49-49, and Del. Yancey submitted an intention to vote, that has no effect at all.

I am entirely unappreciative of what you have tried to do here, and I need to speak to the delegate himself tomorrow.

Mike

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