I am proud to announce the launch of the new social network for Congress, www.capitolbells.com. My goal is for it to modernize the way Congress and constituents interact on pressing legislation, letting us objectively grade the performance of Representatives and reach our friends who don't otherwise participate in national politics.
This new site is my next step in connecting Capitol Bells's massive congressional user base to Americans at home. It provides Members of Congress and constituents alike a unique way to share and evaluate their own legislative priorities via ‘Motions’ posted to other social networks. Motions are brief, tweet-ready posts written by users to communicate their reason for supporting or opposing a piece of legislation. For example, my friend Sean would like to put pressure on legislators to actually move immigration reform. What's your position?
As users weigh in, their actions are compared directly to their representatives’ official positions -- 'yea' or 'nay.' Unlike phone calls and letters, CapitolBells.com is designed for the increasing importance of social media as a means of mass communication, and it will facilitate Members’ ability to harness and gauge the level of support on any legislation.
“My staff and I use Capitol Bells to make sure that I don't miss important votes,” says Jared Polis, a Congressman from Colorado and a former tech entrepreneur himself. “I am excited that now Capitol Bells will be offering another way for my constituents to communicate with me and other members of Congress about their views on legislation. I am proud to support efforts like Capitol Bells that demonstrate how technology and innovation can both ensure greater transparency as well as foster increased civic participation.”
The proceedings of Congress have been largely out of the public view for more than two hundred years. While C-Span brought the theatre of the floor to a mass audience, I am working to adapt the legislative process into an interactive experience while bringing the people’s voice to Capitol Hill. Today as constituents vote on bills and share content, they will be able to personally gauge their Congresspersons’ voting records. Soon the most active users will themselves be able to share their own voting records as virtual candidates for Congress, and the functions of the site will be rolled into the mobile platform as well.
Capitol Bells on iPhone and Android now boasts usage by over half of the Members and their staff in the House of Representatives. Since I launched it in the spring of 2013, the app has transformed the way Congress tracks the House and Senate floor in real-time by generating up to the minute vote alerts derived from the radio-controlled legislative clocks in the Capitol building. I hope CapitolBells.com can have as profound an effect on civic engagement.