Website that tracks legislator's stances on upcoming actions?
February 7, 2017 4:42 AM   Subscribe

Is there a website where I can see each upcoming congressional action, with an up-to-date indication of which legislators have come out in support or in opposition, and which are so far uncommitted? Or another quick, frequently updated way to tell which legislators might be persuadable on each issue? If not, is there any org that might be interested in creating something like that?

I've become politically active for the first time in my life, and I'm encouraged by how many people could say the same. Specifically, I've been following the groups that recommend calls to one's legislators. But for the many of us who live in solidly red or blue places, I worry that those calls risk just siphoning off energy that would better be spent elsewhere.

I confirmed here, though, that it's not effective to call others' legislators (who might be more persuadable), even on behalf of one of their constituents. But if I knew which the high-priority legislators were on a given issue, I could at least encourage anyone I know from their constituency to call them. I have friends and family in more purplish places. They may not be up for calling their legislators regularly. But I think they would call if I could say "Hey, on this close-call issue being voted on soon, there are only a few undecided legislators, and as of today, yours is one of them."

If a site like that doesn't exist yet, any ideas who might be interested in creating one? (Anyone who wants to is welcome to own the idea.) I've asked thesixtyfive, and they hope to do something eventually, but it didn't sound like they'd have the resources for it soon.

Bonus question -- Someone memailed me that some organizations pursue the same goal using volunteers to call a phone list of constituents in high-priority districts, and if a constituent is willing, the volunteer can press a button to connect the constituent's call to their legislator, right on the spot. Do you know organizations like that where I could volunteer?
posted by daisyace to Law & Government (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite is not going to do everything you are asking, but it is a good place to start. It is a project I found through Sunlight Foundation, which I first heard about on IFTTT. This blog post explains more.
posted by soelo at 7:11 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

GovTrack does not track legislators' statements of support or opposition, nor is that something that the site will be adding (for lack of staff to do the necessary research). This kind of thing is extremely research-intensive. Ultimately, such a site is only feasible if focusing on just a very small number of high-profile bills. There are plenty of interest groups who already do that kind of thing for the bills within their narrow area of interest, although I appreciate that kind of fragmented approach isn't what you have in mind.
posted by waldo at 7:49 PM on February 7, 2017

Response by poster: Good info to have - thank you both. I can see it being too research-intensive if it had to be done for every bill, and if it had to be done by staff. But I think it would be fine if it only focused on the "very small number of high-profile bills" that constituents would most likely want to call in about. Plus, the information is out there -- in the fragmented interest groups you mention and in legislators' twitter feeds, websites, etc. -- and seems ripe for crowd-sourcing to populate a consolidated list. It would need some mechanisms to differentiate lone, possibly erroneous reports from well-substantiated ones, such as a link to the original source and a way to indicate how many people have confirmed or disputed a reported stance.

GovTrack looks like the kind of place that could host such a thing. Waldo, when you say it's not something they'll be adding, is that an insider's view, such that I shouldn't waste my time trying to get in contact to ask them?
posted by daisyace at 9:29 AM on February 8, 2017

My friends told me about this app that supposedly is much better than GovTrack:

Countable is an app that allows you to track legislation on your phone. It makes legislation understandable to the average citizen and provides a social side that allows you to voice your support or opposition to a bill. It also lets you track your representatives and allows you to see how closely your votes match theirs. So basically there's a short summary of the bill, pros and cons, and then you can send an email to your representative saying how you feel about it.
posted by LawChick at 5:07 AM on February 22, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks! Looks like Countable has past votes, as does fivethirtyeight. Either could be a good lead for hosting the info on stances for upcoming votes, if we create it. I've got an initiative getting started now to try to do so, so we'll see! (If anyone's interested in helping out, please get in touch.)
posted by daisyace at 8:24 AM on February 24, 2017

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