Column: New technology can help engage people in politics

Imagine the difficulty and confusion of reaching legal voting age during an era of political and social chaos. With every switch of the TV channel, we see political commentators spewing their opinions in one another’s faces, and before long, it can feel like we’ve gotten whiplash. Alternative facts, absurd tweets, countless executive orders — sometimes I wonder how even the most experienced politicians can stay on top of everything going on right now.

Unfortunately, because of the disarray in D.C. and around the country, efforts to decrease voter apathy and increase involvement seem in vain. This is especially true for young people, who have a history of feeling disconnected from Washington. And with the current administration, it isn’t hard to understand why young adults, especially women, may feel disconnected from a group of men taking the first steps to defund organizations that support women in their right to their own bodies.

It’s easy to look at everything happening and feel as though we have no ability to make a difference. While much of this stems from seeming moral corruptions making their way to legislation, a lot of it also comes from a lack of knowledge about the many ways in which we can impact Washington. One such way is by reaching out directly to our representatives, the people we elected to act as our voices in the federal government.

As the past few weeks of the Trump administration have provoked outrage, celebrities and activists have used their respective platforms to encourage citizens to contact Washington and state their support for or rejection of any given governmental action. However, it still seems like discouragement persists among people who feel like they do not have the ability to influence change; busy signals and full voicemail boxes upon dialing representatives do not exactly encourage involvement.

That’s where applications such as Countable can make the difference between apathetic and active citizens. Countable is an initiative that strives to bridge the gap between D.C. and citizens. With this application, people are able to read up on prospective and current legislation in language that makes clear what the purpose of each law is. That way people stay informed on what’s going on and it is easier to form individual opinions on it. Perhaps even more importantly, users can directly reach their representatives and voice their opinions on any given piece of legislation by indicating whether they say “aye” or “nay” to the given law. As such, representatives can see this information and gather a consensus on where their constituents stand on issues.

Finally, people can follow up after legislation has been through the proper vetting on how their representatives voted. Even as such a new application, it has already had an impact; people have said that it provides an unbiased and unprecedentedly direct way of getting involved with our government.

After all is said and done, Countable fosters two-way communication between the government and the people it represents. In an environment of chaotic political miscommunication, this is a very good thing.

As we embark on the journey that comes with the transition from one president to another, it is more important than ever that we, as citizens of the United States of America, stay informed, aware and involved in our government. With initiatives such as Countable, perhaps soon we will develop an involved public, one that refuses to stand still in a world of morally condemnable actions.


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