One of the challenges of being a United States citizen is navigating the maze of information that is available on our House of Representatives and Senator. Finding out your Senator is not to difficult given that each state has two. But the House of Representatives can be far more challenging, especially in states with high populations. Knowing who your representatives is in your area is important, especially if you want to reach out to them on a particular issue or to know what they are doing in the House. And what do you do if you move to a new area or state? The challenge becomes even more difficult sometimes.
ObjectiveApps has developed an app for the iPad that solves this problem and gives a wealth of information on your local congressperson and senator. MyCongress provides you not only with the name of your representatives but also provides links to their Twitter accounts, YouTube accounts and allows you to search for any person serving in either house. It is a simple but rich app that everyone in the US who has an iPad should download (it’s free).
To put everyone at ease, this is not a politically driven app. Rather it is a reference app that is completely non-biased. All of the information presented is public record and not necessarily the opinion of ObjectiveApps. It is designed to help you find out who represents you in a quick and pain free way.
MyCongress is only available for iPad and requires only .5 MB of space on your device. When you start the app you get the splash screen then are brought to the main display and are immediately prompted by the app to use the locator service. By allowing the app to do this it will bring up the representatives for your area. If you are traveling then you can still do a search by your Zip Code to find your local representation.
Once you representatives are found they are displayed at the top of the MyCongress Display. Your Senators are displayed on the right while your House of Representatives member is displayed on the left. Tapping any one of them will bring you to a detailed page about them.
Once you tap on a Senator or Representative, you are provided a wealth of information. At the top you get a short biographical overview of them along with their time in their particular role within the Legislative Branch. Their phone numbers are listed here as well and you can bookmark them for quick reference in the future (see the image above for an example of a bookmarked Senator in the left column). Below this in the left most column is a list of recent news about that member of Congress including any press releases they have made, articles they have been quoted in, interviews and the like. In the middle is their YouTube channel with direct links to videos either they have published or videos that they are in that have been published. Finally on the right you will find their Twitter feed. Not all members of Congress have Twitter feeds but many do now. It makes for an interesting read to see what they are chatting up in their microblogging.
From this page you can also open up that member’s website (all have them now) which will launch a window with the site displayed. You can optionally display that page in Safari but it will shut down the MyCongress app if you do so – at least until iOS 4.2 for iPad is released. The Contact button opens up the official congressional contact page for that representative where you can fill out a form that will be emailed to that member. Like the website, it can be done within MyCongress or can be opened in Safari.
Finally there is a button to open up the OpenCongress. OpenCongress is a non-profit public resource of information about each Senator and Congressperson that provides information such as their voting record, the bills they have sponsored or co-sponsored and their “money trail”. This site along is a great wealth of information but having it incorporated in MyCongress really makes the app stand out.
Within MyCongress you are able to search for any representative using the built-in search function. You can search for someone by name, by state, by House or Senate or by their political party. Hear something interesting about a Senator on the national news? Now you can look them up and find out a bit more about them.
If there was one improvement I would like to see in MyCongress it would be a tie into the representatives Facebook page as many of them now have those as well as Twitter. Beyond this though there is little to fault with MyCongress. It is a great resource to keep tabs on what is going on with your Senators and Represenatives.
MyCongress for iPad is free and available in the App Store