DC Influencer: Rachna Choudhry, Popvox

Rachna Choudhry, cofounder and CMO of Popvox, highlights how the advocacy website amplifies the public's message to Congress.

Rachna Choudhry, cofounder and CMO of Popvox, highlights how the advocacy website amplifies the public's message to Congress.

How has Popvox fulfilled its goal to be a place of action?
Popvox.com is an advocacy platform that meshes legislative data with personal stories and public sentiment. Individuals can find information about every bill pending in Congress and read advocacy group and trade association positions before writing a message to members of Congress, which we deliver.

Popvox.com has become a place of action because users have put the human face on complex policy issues and we've delivered hundreds of thousands of their messages to Congress.

How has Popvox influenced Congress and shaped policy?
Recently, the sponsor of the Mobile Information Call Act (HR 3035) asked that his bill not be advanced. It was an unusual move, but it's a textbook example of individuals influencing Congress through grassroots advocacy.

Nationwide, more than 10,000 people sent messages to Congress opposing the bill through Popvox.com and our Write Congress widgets, which embed onto organization websites.

What is the next innovation?
With all eyes on Election Day, we want Popvox to be the go-to tool for people looking to assess elected officials. To that end, we just launched [in beta] Congress Match, which enables users to see every bill officials have weighed in on and how members of Congress voted.

As a user comments on more bills and Congress takes more votes, their Congress Match grid updates to reveal just how "representative" their representative or senators have been.

Talk about a satisfying moment since launching Popvox in January 2011.
In our early stages, we were questioned about people's overall disillusionment with Congress. Would people actually use a transparent advocacy platform that presented neutral bill information and enabled them to send messages to Congress?

We got our answer a few weeks later when the government was on the verge of a shutdown. Almost overnight, thousands of people - mostly military families - wrote personal, compelling messages to Congress using Popvox in support of a bill ensuring pay for servicemembers in the event of a shutdown. In fact, they managed to crash our servers.

Looking back, it was a great problem for us to have - and very satisfying for our team.

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