Unless you spend your free time watching hours of C-SPAN, the odds are you aren’t too keenly aware of the inner workings of Congress and instead rely on hysterical headlines from MSNBC, Fox News and other news outlets to keep you informed. With Countable, you can stay better informed of the bills making their way through Congress and cast yea or nay votes to make your voice heard. Countable also lets you see how your representatives have voted and makes it easy to contact them. You can access Countable on the Web or use the Countable iPhone app or Android app.
You will need to sign up for a free account via Facebook or email before you can begin using Countable. You will also need to enter your ZIP code when signing up so Countable can provide shortcuts to your Congressional delegation. For the great state of New Hampshire, I was provided both of my senators, Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen and the representative for my congressional district, Anne McLane Kuster.
I checked out the iOS app, which is organized into five tabs:
The Home tab features feed of bills that are currently making their way through Congress. Tap on a bill to get more information about it and buttons to vote Yea or Nay. You’ll get an Overview that offers a quick summary of Why vote Yea? and Why vote Nay? You can also read comments from other Countable users that support either position. There is also an Activity screen that shows you when the bill was introduced and whether the House or Senate has voted on it and if the President has signed it into law. On the Details screen, you can read an official summary of the bill, at the bottom of which is a link that takes you to the full text of the bill.
When you vote on a bill, you can add a comment to share with the Countable community. Countable also sends a message to your Representative that tells he or she of your opinion. You can personalize the message or opt out of sending it. It’s a bit opaque as to how your messages are delivered.According to Countable:
In most cases your message is submitted to your lawmaker in a manner that is similar to sending an email message to them. The message includes your name, address, and email address. This allows your lawmaker to determine that you are, in fact, from their district or state and gives them a way to get in touch with you.
In some cases the message is delivered as an email.
Countable also states on its FAQ page that it’s working on a dashboard where you can see the status of your messages to your lawmaker.
On the Local tab, you can read local legislation for only two cities at the moment: New York and San Francisco. Countable states that more cities are coming soon.
The Me tab is your profile page where the issues you have favorited are listed along with your lawmakers and the votes you cast. Tap on one of your reps to browse a feed of the votes he or she has cast.
The Issues tab features dozens of tiles of the various issues facing the country and our government. Tap on a tile to view a feed of the bills concerning that issue. You can also tap the star on a tile to favorite that issue, which adds that issue to the main feed on the Home tab.
The More tab has some useful information including a link to register yourself to vote and Settings where you can make change to your profile page.
The key to Countable is the issues are approached in an nonpartisan, unbiased way, with both sides of the debate explained. And Countable has an editorial staff that writes succinct summaries in clear language.