Pols Chime In on Capitol Bells
Posted at 12:49 p.m. on April 1, 2014
A former House staffer turned civic-engagement evangelist, Ted Henderson has amplified his efforts to connect Congress with constituents by introducing a new way to stake out personal positions: virtual “motions.”
The former aide to one-time Michigan Democratic Rep. Dale E. Kildee told HOH that a fair amount of Hill types — 9,500 total users, including 6,800 House vote alert subscribers (versus the 250 currently seeking Senate vote updates) — have taken notice of his fledgling tool.
Henderson estimates that roughly 200 to 250 House members and their staffers are utilizing the smartphone app (and companion website) to keep tabs on the issues folks from their home districts are rallying for/against online.
Lawmakers have begun taking their own stands by utilizing the app’s nascent motion-writing feature.
Instead of simply voting a certain issue up or down, the “motion” function gives CB users the opportunity to post a brief statement (up to 200 characters) that can then be shared on other social media platforms.
Per Henderson, the abbreviated stump speeches should help politicians cut through the legislative noise by injecting easily digestible appeals into the conversation.
“Here’s who I am. Here’s what I’m working on … and it’s all translated into regular English,” he said.
Some early adopters have already hopped on their virtual soapboxes, Henderson said, including Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright (the first to pen a “motion”) and Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis (“a huge supporter”).
Moving forward, Henderson hopes to maximize CB’s vote matching capabilities — it currently only compares users’ positions to members from their home-state delegation — by opening up the cross-referencing to presidential and congressional candidates.
And he’s determined to draw even more lawmakers into the feedback loop.
“I want people to use it anytime they’re talking about a bill online … [because] it’s adding that gateway to constituent engagement,” Henderson asserted.
He plans to continue making his case to the online masses next week via Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” forum (perhaps as early as April 7).