ANCHORAGE - Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young's attendance in Congress improved this year, but he still missed more votes than nearly all his House colleagues in 2002.
The independent political journal Congressional Quarterly compiled a database and found Young missed 15 percent of floor votes. That's worse than 95 percent of his colleagues.
In 2001, Young missed 21 percent of votes, the second-worst attendance record in Congress that year. This year, he and three other members tied for 411th place out of 434.
Among those who missed more votes than Young were Robert Erlich, a Republican who was campaigning to be governor of Maryland and missed 19 percent of House votes, and Gary Condit, a California Democrat hounded by the press because of his relationship with a Washington intern whose body eventually was found in a park.
The average percentage of missed votes for a House member was 5 percent, not counting the House speaker, who rarely votes, or Rep. James Traficant, an Ohio Democrat who was expelled by his colleagues in July and jailed on corruption charges.
More than a third of the 73 votes Young missed were on procedural motions. He also missed votes related to the defense bill and homeland security, as well as votes to honor tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and wish Ronald Reagan a happy birthday.
Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, had the worst attendance record in the Senate last year, missing 12 percent of votes. This year, his record improved to 3 percent, about average for a senator. Sen. Frank Murkowski, who was campaigning to be governor for much of the year, missed 9 percent of Senate votes.
Alaska's federal lawmakers have said they often travel more than their colleagues due to Alaska's size and distance from Washington, D.C.
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