POPVOX


Overview

Website: popvox.com
Twitter: @POPVOX
Facebook: Popvox
Founders: Marci Harris, Rachna Choudhry and Josh Tauberer

Popvox is a neutral, nonpartisan civic engagement platform designed to foster better communication between citizens and Congress. Their mission is to speed public input through the political process to engender more authentic, direct democracy. On Popvox, all Congressional bills get coverage on their own page, and people can sign into the site to voice their support or opposition to the legislation. [5] The platform verifies that each contributor is a valid constituent based on the home address they enter upon signing up. The platform then aggregates, verifies, sorts, counts, and delivers the publicly curated content to government lawmakers in a format designed to influence policy decisions. Popvox is used by individuals, legislators, organizations and corporations. Users choose a screen name to post their feedback publicly, and Popvox privately sends their name and address to congressional aides who can see whether the feedback is from their member’s district. Popvox gauges public opinion in each district or state on specific bills, and everyone can watch how Congress responds. [1] The platform integrates with Congressional communications systems like the House Democrats’ Intranet, DemCom. [5]

History

Headquartered in Washingon, D.C., Popvox was founded in July of 2010 by Marci Harris, Rachna Choudhry and Josh Tauberer. Marci Harris and Rachna Choudhry met at a Washington dinner party in 2009, and discussed the flawed nature of Congressional communication.  This conversation led to the birth of Popvox. Rachna, a federal lobbyist at the time, complained that Congress' poor communication hindered advocates from being effective. Harris, a congressional staffer, argued that Congressional offices were overwhelmed by information from self-proclaimed "advocates" that was often misleading or false. [1] The co-founders sought funding from Tim O’Reilly, a major supporter of the open source movement and host of Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 summits and expos, and he was their first angel investor, followed by family and friends. [4] A large percentage of the Popvox team now comprises former Hill staffers that were frustrated by the communication problem. At the time of its founding, according to the Washington Post-ABC News, approval of Congress was at a grim 13 percent. [2] In March of 2011, POPVOX won theSxSW Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator award for the Social Media Category. The platform was then honored at the 2012 Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards, and ranked #10 on Mashable’s Major Tech Contributions From Entrepreneurial Women in March of 2013. [4] As of September, 2014, the platform had nearly 400,000 users who had expressed their opinion on over 1.7 million bills. [6]


References

  1. Steven Overly "Popvox connects advocacy groups, public to Congress" Washington Post May 29, 2011

  2. Charlie Warzel "In Toxic Political Atmosphere, PopVox is Hitting It's Stride" DCInno January 23, 2012

  3. Carl Pierre "Five DC Startups With Ideas You Wish You Thought Of" DCInno May 29, 2012

  4. Sarah McKinney "The Future Of Political Engagement Is Here (And It's Called POPVOX)" Forbes February 1, 2014

  5. David Zax "HOW POPVOX HELPS PEOPLE SCREAM LESS, THINK SMARTER ABOUT POLITICS" Fast Company September 17, 2013

  6. Lalita Clozel "How PopVox gives a voice to citizens and an ear to Congress" Technical.ly September 8, 2014

  7. David Zax "POPVOX ASKS: SHOULD CONGRESS FURLOUGH ITSELF?" Fast Company March 4, 2013

  8. Rachna Choudry "Congress, Week 2: Do You Know What They're Working on?" Huffington Post January 14, 2015