Congressional Report Cards (logo)

Frequently-Asked Questions

How accurately do the numeric scores reflect the level of support given by a Congress member to the legislation considered important by an information provider?

Numerical scores based on a small number of actions (votes and cosponsorships) are not very useful. That is why we do not even display scores that would be based on fewer than five actions. We recommend that you view the member’s position, the information provider’s position, and the provider’s description for each action. Click the bar graph to see the Details Page for the given provider and year.

Why are some legislation descriptions missing?

We started re-printing the providers' legislation descriptions in 1999. Due to limited resources, we will not be adding the pre-1999 descriptions

How different are the Report Card scores from any ratings published by the information providers themselves?

Often they are identical. Any differences can be attributed to one of the following:

  • The way "missed" votes are counted may be different. If a member does not vote (or otherwise make his/her position known) during a vote, we count that as a "wrong" vote. Some providers disregard these votes when calculating their ratings.
  • Some providers combine votes taken over two or more years into one rating. Each VIS Score includes only votes taken during a single calendar year.
  • We only support two weights for each action (vote or cosponsorship): standard and double-weighted. Some providers use more than two weights when calculating their scores.

Why do you list 34 congressional districts in New York State, even though there are now only 31 of them?

This is a result of the 1992 redistricting during which NY and other states, especially in the Northeast, lost congressional districts because their population had become smaller relative to other states such as Texas and California. Notice that there are no scores past 1992 in the reports for NY districts 32 through 34. Redistricting happens every ten years.

Your information seems to be somewhat dated. 
How often are the Report Cards updated?
Why isn't my representative's position on Vote X taken last week available?

We are not a news site. The Report Cards are updated 2-3 times a year.

In our Report Cards, we use the information published by the information providers (specifically, their position on legislation or votes). This information is published by the providers typically after the congressional session ends. Some providers may take 6-9 months and some may do it only once every two years.

Information on the most recent activity in the U.S. Congress is available for the following sources not affiliated with VIS: