How Popvox Can Improve National Dialogue

Marci Harris, founder of Popvox, recently spoke at a GovLoop and Esri meetup. Harris said, “We [Popvox] are a neutral, nonpartisan platform for civic engagement and legislative information.” Harris also provide insights to way she founded the company, “The idea of Popvox was to connect the world, advocacy groups, congress and people sharing their ideas in on place.”

Popvox follows a three-step process. Step one is that every bill that is introduced into Congress gets its own page. Next, organizations have the opportunity to share positions about the bill. Speaking from her experience as a staffer, Harris said, “One of the things that I found was that when I was looking for who supported a bill, I was doing the same as every other staffer, so Popvox aggregates that information.” Finally, individuals have the chance to share their opinions, “All of the messages in Popvox are delivered into the offices, and then aggregated into a report for every bill,” said Harris.

The hope is that Popvox facilitates an improved dialogue and clarity about what people are telling congress. “The idea is that you, the media, other staffers, can go to Popvox and see what people are writing to congress on issues,” said Harris.

This process provides meaningful impact for Congress. With Popvox, Congress can better address constituent concerns, identify common trends, and improve the way they engage with citizens around issues. Ultimately, Popvox can serve as a platform for improved decision-making, and more direct form of governance.

Harris also shared her philosophy on what will make Congress receive improved data, she provided the following equation: Open Data + Transparency + Civic Participation = Congress gets improved data. Popvox is an example of a tool that was built outside of government, but with clear applications, and the mission, to improve government. “Our goal is for congress to be more responsive and make better decisions,” said Harris.

Harris said, “Our hope that is taking a lot of the information, and making it not just available for members of congress and staff, but also for media and citizens.”

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