Congressional Democrats have faced a lot of flak in recent weeks, as President Donald Trump’s nominees have sailed through the Senate confirmation process. Meanwhile, their constituents haven’t let up, clogging their voicemail boxes in the process.
A software company’s new online app things aren’t going to get any easier for them—or their public affairs staff.
The non-partisan Arlington, Virgina-based startup Phone2Action Inc., which builds software to enhance engagement in activists’ campaigns, launched a new tool Sunday helping citizens quickly reach their legislators via phone, email, Twitter and Facebook.
Unlike Countable—a similar app and website, launched in 2014, that summarizes bills and legislative activity in laymen’s terms and offers lawmakers’ emails to users—Phone2Action’s tool is much simpler and goes a step further.
All users need to do is type in their names and addresses and select a communication platform before hitting “Find Legislators.” The app lists the user’s governor, senators and representatives—along with, in the case of social media and email, a box for a message with a pre-entered introduction. (The Twitter option begins its message with “Hey [@legislator] please hear me out.”) With the click of another button, the call is activated, or the tweet, Facebook post or email sent.
“We know that in times like this there’s a big need for people to feel like they’re involved,” Phone2Action Co-Founder and Chief Executive Jeb Ory said, adding that plenty of voters don’t know the names of their local lawmakers, much as they may feel passionate about what’s going on at the federal level. “Our view is that anyone in a democracy should be able to have their voices heard, and we just want to make that easier.”
While the company has been around since late 2012, Ory said Phone2Action launched to tool in response to voter interest.
Indeed, constituents have picked up their phones and taken to Twitter as the first week and a half of Trump’s presidency unfolded, calling out their legislators for backed up voicemail boxes and their general inability to reach the lawmakers and deter them from nominating billionaire Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, former Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Rex Tillerson for secretary of state and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), who has a long history of racism allegations, for attorney general.
On Tuesday, Trump is expected to announce his choice for a new Supreme Court judge to fill the seat left vacant by the late Justice Antonin Scalia nearly a year earlier.
Phone2Action expects an avalanche of user activity surrounding the announcement, but, according to Ory, the tool will be sticking around long after Trump fills up his cabinet and the Supreme Court.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article listed Phone2Action's headquarters as Kansas City. The company is currently based in Arlington, Virginia.