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Helping to bridge the digital divide, a new toll-free number service was designed to empower the public toward involvement in the political process. This program, titled “Call on Congress”, is a toll-free service designed by The Sunlight Foundation to help inform citizens on how representatives vote and how they raise campaign funds. Upon calling, users are connected to a service providing instant information—both in English and Spanish—regarding recent actions taken by lawmakers of their district/state.
Furthermore, callers are even redirected to the line of their representatives and senators and even receive details on where they can vote on Election Day. Ellen Miller, executive director of The Sunlight Foundation explains, “Nearly 96 percent of people in the country have access to telephone service. Yet, the percentage of the population with Internet access is significantly lower, especially among rural dwellers, senior citizens and those without high school diplomas. Call on Congress helps bridge that ‘digital divide’ by giving anyone with a phone line a free and meaningful way to hold elected officials accountable.”
With just a simple call and input of one’s area code, callers will hear the top campaign contributors for their congressional members, a brief biography with committee assignments, and a direct transfer to their Capitol Hill office among other amenities. Other organizations such as the National Civic League, People for the American Way, and Zero Divide have pledged support and assistance toward helping this program get off the ground. Online Strategy Manager for People for the American War, Ben Betz gives praise, “What a great one-stop shop for up-to date information on Americans' elected officials; what they've been up to, as well as how constituents can contact them and weigh in. The Sunlight Foundation is using technology to streamline democracy and make congressional offices more accessible to the people they're supposed to serve.
Smart phone users can also download the same services in the App format: Real Time for Congress for the iPhone, Congress for Android and Windows Phone 7. For more information on this service pay a visit to www.sunlightfoundation.com.