EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 16, 2013

Some N.H. lawmakers fail to show up to vote

Health, job issues prevent some lawmakers from voting


For those who seldom miss a vote, it can be frustrating when a colleague is often absent.

“That’s what you ran for,” Allen said. “If you are not planning to be there on session day, then you should not run. It’s unfair to the people you represent.”

Allen, 82, is serving her sixth term in the House. She missed only one vote this session, simply because she stepped out of the room, and two last year.

While some New Hampshire lawmakers juggle full-time jobs and family responsibilities, Allen said she didn’t even considering running for office until after she retired in 2001.

Once elected, those who are still working need to make arrangements with their employer to avoid missing key votes, she said.

“If you have agreed to do it, you should do it,” Allen said. “If you haven’t made an arrangement, then you are doing a disservice.”

Jobs interfere with service

Career commitments was the main reason Rep. Jeffrey Oligny, R-Plaistow, missed 94 of 164 votes, or 57 percent, this session, which ends later this month.

Oligny, an engineer, said he’s committed to serving his constituents, but still has to put two children through college.

“I’m not retired and I’m not wealthy,” he said. “You do have to support the family and pay the bills.”

Oligny said he works more than 50 hours a week and must travel between offices in Nashua and Lexington, Mass. There are many days when Oligny said he just can’t miss work if he wishes to remain employed. That translated into him missing more than half the votes as of June 5.

He said while voting is important, so, too, is building consensus for legislation among other lawmakers before key votes are taken.

A perfect voting record isn’t everything, he said.

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