This answer to What would happen if Senators boycotted the Impeachment Vote points out that the Constitution does not compel Senators to vote in an impeachment trial:

The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.

Is there any historical precedent of a U.S. Senator not voting in an impeachment trial (for any kind of office)?

  • There are examples of Senators not voting at Can The Chief Justice Excuse Senators From The Jury In A Presidential Impeachment?.
    – Rick Smith
    Feb 11, 2021 at 21:06
  • Boycotting, (i.e. purposeful moral or politically motivated organized non-participation), is not necessarily the same thing as not voting, (which might also comprise various members lack of interest, laziness, schedule conflicts, ordinary abstention, absentee opponents agreeing to abstain in tandem, etc.).
    – agc
    Feb 12, 2021 at 18:51
  • For impeachment, two thirds of the senators present must vote for it. It was explained elsewhere that this means for every three senators boycotting by staying at home two votes less for impeachment are needed. But a senator "boycotting" by being present but not voting is effectively a vote against impeachment. Voting against and not voting are the same in this case.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 13, 2021 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


John Pickering was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1803 and convicted by the Senate in 1804. The vote in the impeachment trial was 19 to 7. There were 34 Senators at the time, so eight did not vote.

Robert Wodrow Archbald was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1912 and convicted by the Senate on five of the thirteen articles of impeachment in 1913. There were 96 Senators at the time (Arizona, the last of the 48 contiguous states, was made a state in early 1912). The total votes on the thirteen articles differ from article to article, ranging from 62 Senators to 73 Senators; not a single one came close to having 96 Senators voting either for or against conviction.

  • 3
    There may well be others, but I think that finding two examples shows that the historical precedent that the OP asks for does exist. Feb 11, 2021 at 20:16
  • More importantly, article XIII in Archbald's case passed/convicted with 42:20 votes. Feb 11, 2021 at 20:59

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