As background, Jake Brewer has written an excellent piece of analysis on what is actually going wrong when big advocacy groups organise petitions and write-in campaigns aimed at US politicians. His three main points are:
- Advocacy organizations (and funders) are disconnected from the realities of the political process on Capitol Hill.
- The systems designed to allow for citizen input are both not getting through to Congress, and creating more of the problem when they ARE getting through.
- Congress simply can't measure, make sense of, or act on what it gets from citizens.
The PopVox solution to problems like these is to have campaign groups get their members to show their support for (or opposition to) a specific Bill on its website, rather than sending emails or faxes to Congress.
The site says this "verifies, aggregates, and simplifies communication with Congress on an open and trusted (and nonpartisan) common ground".
Members of Congress and their staff can then view the messages related to each Bill and assess the state of opinion in the local constituency that matters to them.
In an age when technology makes it easier than ever to communicate with politicians, and when politicians struggle under the weight of messages which they receive, this seems like a very sensible solution.