If you have you ever “written a letter to your congressmen”, then you know it’s usually a waste of time.
In the United States of America, there are 7,920 political representatives who make up the federal and states’ legislatures. This relatively small number of people are responsible for representing the interests of 240 million eligible voters and over 310 million US Citizens. This means, on average, every 32,000 eligible voters are represented by a single person in their state legislature, and 450,000 people are represented by a single politician in Federal government.
So how do we solve this problem – surely one person can not effectively represent 450,000. Even Facebook, Twitter, and email can’t make someone efficient enough to maintain a real connection with hundreds of thousands of people.
The long-term solution is to use crowdsourcing internet technology to develop a way for Americans to more effectively communicate with their representatives. It follows that these technologies also provide a more efficient way for representatives to listen to their constituency.
Our proposal is to use reddit or a reddit-like platform. reddit has an uncanny ability to take a large group of people and effectively condense their voice into a manageable stream. The reason reddit works so well is because it is the group that does the filtering. Not a politician’s assistant or intern. If an idea or question is good, the people will upvote it and make it visible for those who only have time to pay attention to the front page. Another huge benefit, reddit’s filtering and posting is continuous and happens in real time. If a new crisis or issue emerges, voters can log on to reddit immediately to speak their mind and up or down vote others’ ideas.
To put this idea into action, we have created two testing grounds for “civic engagement”. Visit r/SeattleCityHall and r/CambridgeCityHall to see how this idea could potentially work. These are both examples of how citizens could use crowdsourcing technology to communicate and interact with local politicians.
If you are interested in using reddit or another crowdsourcing technology for civic engagement, contact us today!