The project I’ve been working on the longest (and the one progressing the slowest) is an app to find all elected officials — yours or for another specific location. By “another specific location” I mean, for example, you want to report the always overflowing trash cans on the street to the Czar of Municipal Trash Cans but you’re not what locality you’re in (I’ve frequently had this problem in both Michigan and Florida because boundaries are so bizarre).
Yes, I know there are plenty of sites like this but I’ve never found one that was as easy to use as I’d like or as comprehensive as I’d like.
At the moment, I need to send a direct order to my US Representative that they will support the newly proposed weekend voting bill so I need to look up who that person is — perfect opportunity to evaluate some of these sites.
League of Women Voters
I can’t tell you how much I hate having to look up my ZIP+4. Fortunately, they provide a link. The button says, “Get Local!” which I think might confuse some people. It gave me:
- US Senators
- US Rep
- State Rep
- State Senator
- County Peeps
I became confused. “Local” means city, too. As it turns out, my city doesn’t have any elected officials except for an “honorary mayor.”
Each elected official’s info includes an address and phone number but no hyperlinks to any webpages of any kind. Those who do provide an email – it isn’t linked. I’m not calling anyone and leaving a message with some temp so the post-it is found behind their desk when they change offices.
USA.gov is the opposite of what I want to create. Among other links, you can click:
- US Senators
- US Representatives
- State Legislators
- Other Local Government Officials
Clicking US Representatives took me to the house.gov Directory.
Clicking F took me to Florida and, fortunately, I had his/my district # from LWV.
Clicking his name takes me to his micro-site where I click Contact and end up here.
I don’t mind another captcha but I do mind having to enter my ZIP+4 again. Yes, it’s a completely different site that has no idea I already did that, but still, that’s the point — this is all taking way too much time and effort.
When I finally got to the contact form, I wanted to be specific but the original article from cnycentral.com didn’t provide a number. It just references a “weekend voting act.”
Searches for “weekend voting act” at both govtrack.us and US House Office of the Clerk sites were fruitless. Should I go back to the article, find the name(s) of the sponsoring reps and follow this rabbit trail again to their pages hoping they mention it and provide a number? No way.
Google tells me the 113th introduced HR1641 and the 114th introduced HR3910 but nothing from the 115th. I went back to the article (in my Facebook feed — don’t judge me) to confirm it was recent. It was. Another article found through Google News mentioned it was introduced in honor of Susan B. Anthony day making me think this is probably something reps do every congress just to look good. So … I’m tired and cynical and over it.
Back to USA.gov …
Just FYI, the US Senators link goes to senate.gov which, IMHO, is designed much better. We can argue about that later.
Clicking State Legislators takes me to the congress.gov page for state legislatures where you can click your state name or, if you don’t know it, click on the map where you live.
Clicking FL takes me to OnlineSunshine.
From there, if you like, you can then visit two other websites! Again, if this is the first site you’re visiting, this doesn’t seem bad but I know from experience this is often not the first stop — you’d be surprised how many of these sites don’t show up in a Google search. At least with the search terms I’ve used.
But, back to USA.gov …
Clicking Other Local Government Officials doesn’t take you to a map (with a bulleted list of text links beneath it) like State Legislatures did but a completely different list of text links.
Clicking Florida takes me to myFlorida.com’s City Government page. That looks like this:
This isn’t my first rodeo so I know better but how many other people think they just forgot to include Brandon? Nowhere online have I found a place mentioning my city has no government so I have always thought it was my substandard searching skills.
While the site is “the official portal of the State of Florida,” it’s not where you’d go if you wanted to find, say, contact info for your state senator or rep (see OnlineSunshine, above).
This USA.gov story could have ended here but I had an epiphany. If the US Senate and US House each have their own sites and, like the FL Senate and FL House have their own sites but the latter pair also have OnlineSunshine — not to mention myFL — each with a different purpose … what is the purpose of the main congress.gov site?
So I clicked the logo in the upper left.
Look at that. Right there at the top. Dare I? I dared.
Still nothing from the 115th. Apparently, only New Yorkers care about this issue. Does “introduced” mean it never gets past that point?
I’m exhausted and have other shizzle to do so I’ll get to the following (others from the first page of Google search results) later:
- Ballotpedia Current Elected Officials Lookup
- Florida Division of Elections: Contact Your Elected Officials
- ELECTED OFFICIALS
- Hillsborough County: Your Elected Officials
Update: After lunch, with a fully and happy belly, I decided to go this route …