Overall, 82 percent of American adults own a mobile phone and a quarter use them to connect politically. It’s an undeniable truth that the cell phone crowd equals motivated voters. That’s the takeaway about the November election according to a newly released report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The Pew study included 2,257 adults. Of those surveyed, 1,918 had cell phones.
The results shouldn’t be surprising and politicians are probably not in touch as much as they need to for the times we live in. Politicians have struggled to use Facebook and Twitter in a meaningful manner and even fewer offer decent mobile apps to connect voters to their agendas and issues.
One of the best mobile apps for tracking what your politicians are up to is the Congress app, a free download on the Android marketplace which provides daily vote tallies on bills to the status of nominations on judicial candidates from individual states.
If you want a direct link to your representative, you can select “My Location” to call a D.C. office directly. You can also check a current voting record, a list of sponsored bills, committee assignments—and find recent news articles where your elected official is featured or mentioned including videos.
The app also sends you directly to any politico’s social media account (if they have one), such as Twitter. You can reply to Sen. Richard Lugar’s tweets via your mobile. And you can receive notifications.
As for the laws of the land, you can find: text of new laws and sponsors, just introduced bills, and also search by bill number.
But as the app warns: “Congress operates in bursts, so days may go by without any activity.”
Computerworld named ‘Congress’ as one of the “10 free Android apps for staying in the know.” The Congress app was developed by the Sunlight Foundation and is built on the Sunlight Labs Congress API and GovTrack.us.
As of last month, more than 300,000 people had downloaded the app so plenty of people are interested in what their elected officials are doing on Capitol Hill.
And there’s more than just the Congress app.
As mentioned in The Atlantic, Walking Edge is a smartphone application and database that tells canvassers where undecided voters and candidate-supporters live, as they walk the streets. Canvassers can update the database of voters as they canvas; other canvassers using the app can then see, in real time, if an address has been contacted.
Verafirma is another developer pushing the envelope with voter petitions that can be signed by using mobile devices. The Fair Elections Legal Network says it would work like this: Using any mobile device with a touch screen voters can type their information into the National Voter Registration Form, sign it with a stylus or their finger, and submit it with one touch.
But not everyone may be ready for such innovation in a decade still stung by hanging chad.
Pew researchers did find a user disconnect in their cell phone survey by users accessing political content: Twenty-one percent of those who used cell phones to learn about or participate in politics did not end up voting in the November election.
Still, the cell phone crowd is voting more. Seventy-one percent of them said they voted in the 2010 election, compared with 64 percent of the greater adult population.