A Town Hall in Your Pocket, A Smartphone with a Front Row Seat

In the days of Washington and Jefferson, Members of Congress had a difficult time reaching the people they represented. A horse and buggy ride from Washington, DC to most states in the union was quite the journey, and most Americans were lucky to have access to their Congressperson one month a year. From the railroad to the telegraph to commercial air travel to this blog, new technologies have made it easier for Members of Congress to reach the American people. On Tuesday, February 8th, at 9:15 PM EST/6:15 PM PST, I’m honored to continue in this tradition by becoming the first Member of Congress to host a live mobile video town hall – or as Josh Richman at the Oakland Tribune coined it, “Garamendi on the Go.”

‘Visible Vote’ is a free application for Facebook, the web, and smartphones (Apple iPhone, Google Android, and Blackberry). It connects you to the lawmakers that represent you and the lawmakers you want to follow. With this American-made technology, you can view live mobile video hosted by Members of Congress on your smartphone and ask questions in real time. With Visible Vote, you can also participate in public policy by voting on past and pending legislation, accessing and comparing your votes to your legislators’ records, and submitting your preferences and messages directly to our offices here in Washington. Information on how to set up Visible Vote is available at their get started page.

As a Member of Congress, I want to use the best and latest technologies to engage the residents of my district. Visible Vote’s innovative and free video town hall software will enable thousands of people to reach me with the tap of a touchscreen. In 2010, I hosted 15 in person and 10 telephone town halls. I host many events in the district, but logistics and travel time keep many of my constituents from attending. Visible Vote makes it easier than ever to attend a town hall.

With Visible Vote, Members of Congress can visit the public instead of the other way around. The cliché that you can participate from the convenience of your own home is incomplete, however, since you can participate from the convenience of any location with cell phone reception. I’m looking forward to being the first Member of Congress to take advantage of this exciting new technology, and you’re all invited to join us Tuesday as we debut what may be the most critical innovation in the Congressional town hall since central air.

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