Mackinac Center’s VoteSpotter App Allows Constituents to Give Legislators Immediate Feedback on How They Voted
iPhone version now available; Android-compatible version forthcoming
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014
Media Relations Manager
MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has created VoteSpotter, an iPhone app that alerts users to key votes in the Michigan Legislature and allows them to give instant feedback to their legislators. (Editor's note: As of March 28, 2014, VoteSpotter is now also available for Android devices.)
“The Legislature votes on hundreds of bills every year and spotting the most important ones can seem like a full-time job,” said Executive Vice President Michael Reitz. “VoteSpotter is a revolutionary app that allows people to continually vote on their legislators’ performance, not just on Election Day.”
When signing up for VoteSpotter, users enter their address and the app reports back to them who their state senator and state representative are, and then alerts them when their legislators vote on key bills. Each notice will contain a concise, neutral, plain-English description of the bill or amendment. Users can instantly notify their legislators if they approve or disapprove of how they voted, either via a phone call or email to their respective senator’s or representative’s office.
“They can also post their reaction on social media,” Reitz said. “Our goal is to promote engagement and dialog between residents and their lawmakers. Now they’ll have information about key votes immediately and legislators will get feedback from their constituents quickly.”
Reitz noted that the Mackinac Center is uniquely positioned to offer this service.
“MichiganVotes.org since 2001 has described every vote on every bill, amendment and resolution in the Michigan Legislature,” he said. “VoteSpotter will use that ability to alert users to votes that are taken on bills that deal with economic, labor, education and other public policy issues that have broad interest.”
Aside from describing legislation, MichiganVotes.org also tracks how many votes lawmakers miss each year. For 2013, the aggregate was 1,093 votes. During the 2001-2002 legislative session when MVO began, it was more than 21,000.
“Legislators’ habits quickly changed when MichiganVotes.org began making that information easily accessible to people,” Reitz said. “With VoteSpotter we expect to see improved constituent awareness and engagement, which will allow legislators to serve their constituents more effectively.”