For years, voters who wanted to learn about issues and discuss them with their elected officials in Congress have had to use a somewhat fragmented set of traditional methods.

To get reliable information, voters might have read newspapers in print or online. Some might have attempted to read the legalese within specific bills if they could find them on the U.S. House or Senate websites. In turn, newspapers would subscribe to expensive services like Roll Call or Congressional Quarterly to offer briefs on bills in motion each week, including their local congressional delegates’ votes on each.

To reach out, voters would write a letter or call or email. Advocacy groups and special interests have made it their practice to build email lists in an effort to generate petitions and letter-writing campaigns in favor of their agendas.

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