For Immediate Release: Friday, December 1, 2000
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202) 296-2787
Nader Asks Congress to Put Database of Congressional Votes on the Internet
Ralph Nader and the Congressional Accountability Project sent letters today to U.S. Senate and House leaders asking them to place a searchable database of congressional votes on the Internet, so that citizens could easily read and study the voting records of their Members of Congress.
The letters were sent to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader Dick Armey, Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts Jr, Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Minority Whip David Bonior, Democratic Caucus Chairman Martin Frost, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles, Republican Conference Chairman Connie Mack, Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Assistant Minority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Conference Chair Barbara Mikulski.
Following is the text of the letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
Dear Speaker Hastert:
Isn't it time for Congress to harness the power of the Internet to serve democracy?
The Internet is a wonder at distributing information cheaply and efficiently. The marginal cost of disseminating a document on the Internet is essentially zero.
Congress ought to use the Internet to enable citizens to inform themselves about the inner workings of the federal government. But Congress is still stuck on the basics.
Access to the voting records of elected officials is a cornerstone of democracy. Yet Congress still has not put on the Internet a database of congressional votes, searchable by bill name, subject, title, Member name, etc. Why not? Why the foot-dragging in this area?
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have put their roll call votes on the Internet -- but not in a searchable format. So it can take hours of painstaking, frustrating, tedious labor for constituents to compile their Members' voting records on any given subject. Why should constituents expend so much time and energy doing something that a computerized database could do in microseconds? This makes no sense at all.
Congress ought to make it easy for citizens to carry out their civic duties. An online database of congressional votes would provide a major advance in the ability of citizens to track the actions of their Members of Congress. If you're proud of what you and your colleagues do in Washington, then why not make it as easy as possible for citizens to read and study these voting records on the Internet?
Will you make this simple congressional reform a top priority for the 107th Congress?
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For more information about the failure of Congress to put its most important documents and materials on the Internet, see the Congressional Accountability Project's web page at <http://www.essential.org/orgs/CAP/CAP.html>.