Whether it’s deciding who to vote for, writing a paper for school or just idle curiosity, your Congress member’s voting record can be useful information. Since those votes are subject to public records laws, it’s relatively simple to access the data.

Gather the name or number of the bill and the date on which the vote was taken. There are some sources from which you can get the voting results without these details, but your quest will probably be shorter if you can start with the information in hand.

Determine the type of vote taken on the bill. Congress may hold voice votes, standing votes or roll call votes. Only roll call votes are recorded by the members’ names. House roll call results are posted online immediately after completion of the vote, while Senate votes are posted within an hour of the process.

Consult the THOMAS project of the Library of Congress or the daily Congressional Record, both available online. Another option is to call the local offices of the representative to ask his staff members.