I have mixed feelings about a new site called Votetocracy. It identifies bills in Congress that are up for consideration (and are in areas you’ve identified as ones you’re interested in), provides two different types of summaries for them (one which is especially accessible to English Language Learners), lets users vote on if they support it or not, and then lets you send an email to your Congressional representative stating your feelings about it.
I really like the accessible and helpful information about the bills, and it might provide an opportunity for writing to an authentic audience.
However, I wouldn’t be surprised if emails from the site end-up getting immediately deleted from many Congressional mailboxes. I have the same concern with this site as I have with phoning into talk radio — it can give people the illusion of doing something about a problem without having an actual effect at all.
However, an actual “snail mail” letter to a Congressperson might actually be read, or perhaps an email from a personal email address. I can see this site, and the email written there, being used by students as a draft for a final version. Even better, it could be used as preparation for a face-to-face meeting with a Congressman or staffperson.
This is Dave – one of the founders of Votetocracy. I agree with you. Emails being sent by Votetocracy on behalf of voters to congress people could very easily be deleted or never be read/ignored. That goes for letters or phone calls as well. The powerful thing here is the solidarity of the votes made by citizens. We tally votes and present the tallies on the site. Letters, emails, phone calls made or sent by individuals are lost in that the public will never know if 1 million people called and all said NO to a specific bill. Votetocracy offers to show that solidarity. If the site succeeds – it will act as a meter if you will against what congress actually decides to do with the bills.
Thanks for taking the time to write about us. I would welcome a more dialogue about your feelings on Votetocracy.
And I have some other ideas for online learning as well. But will save for another post.
What happened to the site?
It must have gone under