PPF Blog

AskThem.io Launching Feb. 10th – Questions-and-Answers with Every Elected Official

For Immediate Release – Feb. 4th, 2014 – 12pm ET

Contact: David Moore, AskThem.io / david@ppolitics.org / (917) 753-3462

AskThem.io Launching Feb. 10th With Question-and-Answer Platform for Every Elected Official

Question and petition every elected official nationwide, and any verified Twitter account, with 60+ elected officials already signed-up

AskThem.io, launching Feb. 10th, is a free & open-source website for questions-and-answers with public figures. AskThem is like a version of the White House’s “We The People” petition platform, where over 8 million people have taken action to support questions for a public response – but for the first time, for every elected official nationwide.

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NYC Council Member Brad Lander

AskThem.io has official government data for over 142,000 U.S. elected officials at every level of government: federal, state, county, and municipal. Also, AskThem allows anyone to ask a question to any verified Twitter account, for online dialogue with public figures.

AskThem.io Director David Moore says, “We’re building a cultural expectation that when large numbers of people ask a question, public figures give a public response.”

With this launch date, PPF is announcing that over 66 elected officials nationwide have agreed to be verified on AskThem, responding to popular questions in an open public forum. AskThem’s participating elected officials include: Austin, TX mayor Lee Leffingwell; five of seven Austin city council members; NYC Council members Brad Lander & Ben Kallos; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Chicago, IL Clerk Susana Mendoza, MA Gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick, and more. See the full updated list of AskThem verified elected officials. Visit http://askthem.io to register a free account with AskThem before launch and be notified as more public figures agree to respond.

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Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

NYC Council Member Brad Lander, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, says, “Government works best when the people affected by decisions are part of the conversation. We look forward to using this new platform to hear directly from New Yorkers on the issues important to them, and bring them in to the discussion about City policy.”

AskThem is a project of the Participatory Politics Foundation, creators of OpenCongress.org, the most-visited non-profit website for tracking the U.S. Congress. OpenCongress has received over 27 million visits and supported a user community of 300,000. Like OpenCongress, AskThem is non-profit and non-partisan, with open data for informed communities.

 Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, says, “‘Ask Them’ has the potential to spur far greater participation in our democracy. I’m delighted to sign up and look forward to answering the direct questions of Manhattanites.”

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NYC Council Member Ben Kallos

Here’s how AskThem works for online public dialogue:

  • For the first time in an open-source website, visitors enter their street address to see all their elected officials, from federal down to the city levels, or search for a verified Twitter account.
  • Individuals & organizations submit a question to their elected officials – for example, asking a city council member about a proposed ban on plastic bags.
  • People then sign on to the questions and petitions they support, voting them up on AskThem and sharing them over social media, as with online petitions.
  • When a question passes a certain threshold of signatures, AskThem delivers it to the recipient over email & social media and encourages a public response – creating a continual, structured dialogue with elected officials at every level of government.
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Austin, TX Mayor Lee Leffingwell

Austin, TX Mayor Lee Leffingwell lauds “citizen participation as the cornerstone of a healthy democracy and government at every level.” Mayor Leffingwell “looks forward to hearing from constituents through AskThem.io and watching the site grow into a meaningful new platform for civic engagement in Austin and across the nation.”

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Chicago, IL Clerk Susana Mendoza

AskThem also incorporates open government data, such as city council agendas and key vote information, to inform good questions of people in power. Open government advocate, Chicago, IL Clerk Susana Mendoza, joined AskThem because she believes that “technology should bring residents and the Office of the Chicago City Clerk closer together.”

Elected officials who sign up with AskThem agree to respond to the most popular questions from their constituents (about two per month). Interested elected officials can sign up now to become verified, free & open to everyone.

Issue-based organizations can use question & petition info from AskThem to surface political issues in their area that people care about, stay continuously engaged with government, and promote public accountability. Participating groups on AskThem include the internet freedom non-profit Fight For the Future, the social media crowd-speaking platform Thunderclap.it, the Roosevelt Institute National Student Network, and more.

Press, media, and political bloggers can contact us to partner on future crowdsourced Q&A around events and for local watchdogs.

AskThem was supported by a charitable grant from the Knight Foundation’s Tech for Engagement initiative. For questions and feedback, email PPF Executive Director David Moore, david@ppolitics.org, or call (917) 753-3462.

Visit AskThem on the Web - Follow @AskThemPPF on Twitter - Like AskThem on Facebook

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2 Responses to AskThem.io Launching Feb. 10th – Questions-and-Answers with Every Elected Official

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