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Why Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer is asking Americans to write to Congress through POPVOX.

Marci Harris

Originally published by Marci Harris on LinkedIn: Why Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer is asking Americans to write to Congress through POPVOX.

Last week, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer launched a website asking Americans to provide input to Congress on the American Health Care Act (the House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act).

Not just a petition

In announcing the website, Rep. Hoyer explained why it uses tools from the nonpartisan civic engagement platform, POPVOX, to help citizens write to their lawmakers:

ResistRepeal.org is not just an online petition site – it will be shared with Members of Congress so they see the responses of the American people.

This site will tally and prominently display the opinion of any American who speaks out on this bill through PopVox.com, a leading non-partisan platform for civic engagement and legislative information. 

That distinction is important (and members of Congress know it). While many online tools can look and feel alike, normal petition sites don’t deliver messages to Congress in a way that can be processed by the offices. Some are just designed for email collection and don’t deliver your message at all! POPVOX is different. We take great care to deliver through official systems and to do so in a way that the input will be counted.

In addition, POPVOX is the only platform that provides a public view of what Congress is hearing on pending bills by district. That means that everyone – you, me, the local newspaper, and even other members of Congress – can know what constituents are really telling lawmakers.

Transparency is power

Why is that transparency important? Well, let’s put it this way: if you are burning up the phone lines and shutting down the fax machine for a particular Congressional office, they don’t have to pick up, they don’t have to count it, and they don’t have to tell anyone about it. With POPVOX, lawmakers can’t deny that they are hearing from real constituents with real concerns.

POPVOX helps Congressional offices distinguish signal from noise, assuring the offices they’re hearing from real constituents -- one time per person per issue. That helps them better quantify the feedback and process a response so you know your message has been received.

Just the messenger

POPVOX is a delivery mechanism. The power is in the content: the personal story or concern that shows your member of Congress that you truly care and are paying attention. For tips on that, check out this piece from POPVOX cofounder, Rachna Choudhry:

No, Congress can't issue calls to advocacy

Remember, members of Congress can’t use official resources to direct people to contact Congress in support or opposition of a specific position. As you see with this website, you can support or oppose the referenced legislation and you have to affirmatively make a selection to have your message delivered to your lawmakers. Representatives can tell you what they think. They can provide the opportunity to weigh in. But the decision to take the action to support or oppose legislation (and actually send that letter to Congress) takes you!

Yes, Congress really cares what you think

I know what you’re thinking: that seems risky for a member of Congress to ask people what they think and accept input publicly. What if people disagree?

Here’s the thing (and I know at least 50% of readers will not believe it but I swear we hear this from 100% of lawmakers and Congressional staff): CONGRESS REALLY CARES WHAT CONSTITUENTS HAVE TO SAY.

If you are an elected official the biggest risk is not that someone disagrees with you; the risk is that someone disagrees and you don’t know it, don’t know why, and don’t have a chance to make your case. While members of Congress may not care at all about national polls or what “the whole internet” has to say, they must and do care about the concerns of the “folks back home.”

That’s why town hall meetings, in-person discussions, local letters to the editor, and showing up in the district office are all such powerful ways to influence policy. Add one more tool to that list: weighing in and being counted on the only public platform designed to channel grassroots energy into tangible, transparent, policy impact.

So could you weigh in to support the bill? Yep – whether on the Hoyer site, or on POPVOX.com, where you can weigh in on every pending bill. You choose to support OR oppose, write a message to your lawmaker, and read what others are saying.

Add POPVOX to your toolkit

Sign up for POPVOX daily and weekly updates to stay up to date on all that is happening in Congress. Weigh in on bills you care about and share with your friends. Running a campaign? Contact us for widgets to connect your supporters with their lawmakers.


POPVOX is a neutral, nonpartisan civic engagement platform that meshes real-time legislative data with users’ personal stories and sentiment, delivering public input to government in a format tailored to actionable policy decisions.

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