Countable: Innovative App helps Americans participate in lawmaking

I came across this app and had to share it. It is a fantastic example of how tech and innovation can help us all participate in shaping the law at the federal level as well as in San Fransisco and NYC.

The app is called “Countable” and works on Android and iOS (i.e. Apple) products. It is free to download from any major app store. You can also check out bills, issues, and discussions on their website and sign up for their newsletter. Below is the description from their iTunes page.

(Note: apparently its popularity has surged in recent days so it is currently running slower than usual. Their tech team is working on it)


Countable makes learning about what your government is up to easy and fun. Learn about issues you care about, influence Congress with one tap voting, and rally your friends around specific legislation.

MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND

  • Daily notifications about upcoming votes
  • Short non-partisan summaries of news and legislation
  • Unbiased arguments for and against

HOLD YOUR REPS ACCOUNTABLE

  • See how your votes align with your lawmakers
  • Post an opinion or vote and we’ll inform your lawmakers
  • Don’t be surprised if you receive a message back

SEND VIDEO MESSAGES TO YOUR REPS

  • Use the camera on your iPhone/iPad to record video messages
  • Send them to your elected reps and break through the noise
  • Tell your story in your own voice and be heard!

COMMUNITY

  • See what other people are saying about the issues you care about
  • Upvote their opinions and show your support

@michaelotto @tobiaseigen @ashleyvanwaes @lucianabercovich @caitlinsislin @jaronvogelsang @rachaelknight @staceycram @vivekmaru @indirasarma @abigailmoy @leeboyce @deylacurtis @marthahague @dagemlegesse @miaschmid @terralawsonremer @caseywalker

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There are surely other similar apps out there. If anyone knows of any, please do share!

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Thanks for sharing, @mckinleycharles! I recently met someone who started this app called Swing Left (here is an article explaining it as well), which identifies your closest swing district and provides some actionable activities to help take back control of nearby Congressional districts in advance of the midterm elections.

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What an amazing resource, @mckinleycharles! Thanks for sharing - I’m downloading it now :grinning:

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Wow - that is a crazy interesting app. I will install it on my android and give it a whirl. My suspicion is that it will not just be of interest to US citizens but anyone who wants to try to get something of a handle on what’s actually happening day to day on capitol hill and what can be done about it.

Countable’s strategy is to make congress accessible and user-friendly for the masses, which is interesting and maybe a bit controversial. For example, according to their editorial standards page, they use catchy titles instead of the original titles of bills:

We don’t use the original titles of bills because they are often long and unruly, or so full of legal jargon that no one but the lawyers in Congress can make sense of them. Because our mission is to be clear and make politics accessible, we try to get the meat of the bill down in 4-8 words.

There’s a handy quick video explaining what it’s all about.

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I liked the mashable article Michael shared about Swing Left, and also the Daily Kos post it mentions which raises an important critique:

People are of course free to give their information away to organizations like Swing Left, but always check to see who is on staff, and what the sources of funding are before you give such information away or donate. If there is no transparency, then exercise all forms of caution. It is far better to give or donate to existing progressive infrastructure since they have a demonstrated record of organizing, voter efforts, and have usually kept voter/activist information private.

In this day and age, sadly, we have to do careful due diligence and not just install apps or sign up willy nilly as opportunities are offered online. Check the about page and see who you’re giving your information to.

I saw that both Swing Left and Countable have great websites so you can use those at first to learn more before installing any app or signing up.

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