PJ Vogt is on Twitter here. If you'd like to subscribe to TLDR's short weekly podcast, please go here.
Your Congressperson Has An Email Address Now, Whether They Want it Or Not
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 09:57 AM
It’s surprisingly hard to email your elected officials. There’s a forest of forms and hoops to jump through, presumably because politicians get tons of spam and want to make it so that the only people who email them are real humans who have made a dogged attempt to do so. Which is good for their inboxes, but arguably a little wobbly as a democratic idea.
The Sunlight Foundation just introduced a pretty elegant fix for this. They’ve created email addresses for every member of Congress. So if you want to email, for instance, Rep. Aaron Shock, (the fittest member of Congress, according to Men’s Health) you just email Rep_Shock@opencongress.org. The Sunlight Foundation will send an email back asking you to confirm you’re a human (as opposed to a spambot) and then they’ll ferry your email through whatever myriad forms exist on Shock’s website so that it reaches his congressional inbox.
The one restriction on the Sunlight Foundation’s site is that they ask you for your zip code up top to try to stop you from emailing a Congressperson besides your own. Here’s the logic:
A lot of people dislike this. We do, too. In an age of increasing polarization, party discipline means that congressional leaders must be accountable to citizens outside their districts. But the unfortunate truth is that Congress typically won't bother reading messages from non-constituents — that's why those zip code requirements exist in the first place. Until that changes, we don't want our users to waste their time.