Should Senators Telecommute?

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The U.S. Senate’s inflexible adherence to a 220-year-old rule–that senators must be physically present to vote–has kept under-the-weather senators Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy from casting a good deal of votes in this Congress (which, in turn, is keeping Democrats from obtaining a true filibuster-proof majority). Perhaps it’s time to revisit the rule and allow senators to vote remotely under certain circumstances, as Jason Zengerle argues convincingly in The New Republic.

“Why, in this day and age of teleconference and videoconference and now even telepresence technologies, do senators need to be physically present to cast votes anyway?” Zengerle asks.

He’s not suggesting that senators should start working from home full-time; remote voting should be a “carefully regulated privilege,” he writes, with a series of safeguards to ensure that it is “safe, legal, and fair.” 

“After all, if can analyze the presidential election by hologram on CNN, isn’t it about time Ted Kennedy be allowed to vote by videoconference on the Senate floor?”

Source: The New Republic

Image by Andres Rueda, licensed under Creative Commons.

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