We have a crisis in citizen engagement in the democratic process:
1/3 of U.S. citizens can name their federal House representative (New American Democracy)
27% can name both U.S. Senators (American Thinker)
19% have contacted a local elected official over a one-year period (National Research Center).
Even in our current more engaged world, state government too often gets left out. Who is your state representative? When is the last time you contacted them? In our federal systems, states have a lot of control over people's lives. They run elections, manage schools, operate criminal justice systems, and have a huge impact in a host of issues ranging from guns to the environment. Making changes here can make a big difference.
But we all lead busy lives, and trying to keep track of everything in your state government is extremely difficult. And the tools our politicians use to try to foster engagement are decidedly last century. Canvassing, phone calls, direct mail, and town halls are all fundamentally analog. We need text, social, and Internet-facilitated interaction. We need a 21st century tool to Engage in issues and elections on our terms.
That is where Engage comes in. We move beyond the simple counting and fancy contact mechanisms currently available and facilitate involvement in bills, campaigns, and advocacy with 21st century contact mechanisms and canvassing abilities.
From the stakeholder process to the final vote, citizens opt-in to text and/or e-mail alerts on the issues they care about and can not only vote yes or no, but can also communicate with their representative and be alerted to critical moments where public support is needed. Legislators not only get constituent voting statistics (including the critical why explanation) but can also foster direct relationships with their constituents, harvest volunteers during elections, and communicate directly using 21st century technology in one-on-one chats and virtual town halls.
This only touches the surface of what the app will do, please watch our video for a more detailed breakdown on how we envision bringing direct democracy into the 21st century.
We are raising money to build a prototype of the app, which will help us get the funds required to build the entire thing. We have not registered as a C3 or C4 yet, there is no dodginess here, it keeps flexibility for us to chose a designation once we know if we will get funding from a C3 (which can only give to other C3s) or a C4 (ditto, but for C4s). We are a registered non-profit in the state of Colorado and the involvement of state Representative James Coleman (D), who is on our board, should help show we are legit.