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Others, like a computer security bill, slipped through Congress by unanimous consent without any record of which politicians were present or not. Another category not included are decisions, like an 87-0 vote on electronic signatures, that wouldn't help to differentiate some politicians from others.
Robert Atkinson, a vice president at the Democratic Party-affiliated Progressive Policy Institute, warned that scorecards are only partial measures of how tech-friendly a politician is. "Just having a score here that might be below average does not necessarily mean that a member is (against) e-commerce and Internet growth," Atkinson said. "There might be other measures that don't get to the floor or that are in appropriations bills that would demonstrate a member's commitment to the IT economy."
Another set of votes not represented in the scorecard is the list of bills that were approved by committees but never made their way to the House or Senate floor. Legislation approved by the House Armed Services Committee that would have granted the Pentagon a veto over certain exports falls into that category.
The senator with the poorest voting record, a mere 11 percent, is Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, D-S.C., a longtime adversary of the technology industry who once was the chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee. Hollings, who is retiring this year, outraged hardware and software companies by proposing to implant copy-protection technology in their products. Hailing from a state proud of its textile industry, Hollings also consistently voted against free trade.
A spokeswoman from Hollings' office declined to comment on the rankings.
Jim Bunning, a Kentucky Republican, can claim the highest Senate score: a hefty 86 percent. Bunning is a former baseball pitcher (with stints for the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers) elected in 1998. Bunning once savaged a political rival for backing NAFTA and normalized trade with China, but upped his own score by voting in favor of a free trade bill two years ago.
"I think it's not surprising," said James Gattuso, vice president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, about the partisan differences highlighted by the scorecard. "Republicans tend to support entrepreneurs a lot more than do Democrats on the whole...Despite all the exceptions we talk about, on the whole, the Internet wants to be left alone and the Republicans want to leave it alone."
The top-scoring House member was Butch Otter, a Republican from Idaho, with an 88 percent lifetime rating. William Lipinski, a Democrat who represents the south side of Chicago, was the worst-scorer with a mere 11 percent. Lipinski is culturally conservative, which cost him ratings on bills related to free speech and gambling and anti-free trade--he's opposed NAFTA, GATT and the tech-related trade bills on the scorecard. The overall House average is 60 percent.
Lipinski's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While the scorecard is intended to capture occasions on which politicians were forced to choose between the technology agenda and competing interests, sometimes that agenda is far from clear.
Take the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its "anti-circumvention" restrictions, which have drawn fire from hardware makers and Internet providers including Sun Microsystems, Verizon Communications, SBC Communications, Qwest Communications, Gateway and BellSouth. But many trade associations, including the Microsoft-backed Business Software Alliance, would like to keep the current law intact.
Jonathan Zuck, head of the Association for Competitive Technology, said that while he generally agrees with the scorecard's ratings, he'd "disagree" with the scoring that counts support of the DMCA as a negative.