I just want to add to the post below:
1) The Congressional Management Foundation has done so much core
work in this area. I still refer to their research
regularly. Hats off to them.
2) Twilio is so much fun.
Anyway, see below....
New: Use GovTrack to Call Congress
Petitioning our government is not only a right but a
responsibility. Now on GovTrack we’ll walk you through how to call
Congress about bills you have an opinion on. Look for the new
“Call Congress!” buttons on all bill pages on GovTrack.
When you click Call Congress, we’ll ask if you support or
oppose the bill, and then we’ll give you a script you can read
from — if you want — when calling Congress so that your call is
effective. And, to make the call really easy, we’ll call you.
You enter your phone number, we call you,
and then automatically your call is patched into the office of
your representative. Right now we’re only able to have you call
your representative in the House, but we’ll add the ability to
call senators soon.
Give it a try and let your voice be heard!
I first became interested in constituent communication in
2007 when I attended a conference in DC about it instead of
studying for a really important PhD exam the next day. What I
learned at the time was:
offices are ridiculously overloaded with communication with the
public. 313 million emails came into Congress in 2006 (iirc),
which if you do the math … is in the ballpark of 300-2000 emails
per office per day. And given the current office budgets
allowing for just a few people (in the House) to be dedicated to
dealing with communications like that, there is no way, as
passionate as they are about it (which also became quite
evidence both from the staffer panelists and those that were in
the audience), for them to respond to all communications.
Writing Congress is not just a hard problem for
constituents but it’s also a hard problem for Congress.
Congressional offices absolutely do want to hear from their
constituents, but they have a lot of constituents writing in about
any of around 10,000 bills before Congress.
I used to think that phone calls made for bad advocacy.
They’re inefficient, there’s no guarantee the congressional office
is going to even write down that you called, and there’s no public
record of your advocacy. That’s all still true. But, as it
happens, a phone call is also perhaps the least-bad option. Phone
calls are still, on balance, an effective form of advocacy. And
crucially it is just a lot cheaper for websites like GovTrack to
build a phone call tool than to build a letter-writing tool. So
that’s what we did.
We’re not the first to build a call-congress tool. CallCongress, Call on Congress, Call for the Dream, and the awful Drunk
Dial Congress are some of the apps that came before us.
- Josh Tauberer (@JoshData)