Pennsylvania Townhalls

About VoterVoices
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By Travis Mitchell
As of July 2016, the ambition is simply to provide a platform for an online townhall between voters and candidates in the 2016 elections.

However, the ultimate goal of the websites is to create an online Civic Commons based on shared geography and localized politics.

The VoterVoices discussion boards, which are centered about single districts served by a single office holder, seek to increase the flow of information between voters and their representatives. Initially, these are simple online townhalls.

In their final form, the forums will allow you to do traditional political actions (letters to your representatives, petitions, etc.) online, and thus to do them more easily, quickly and publicly than before.

Here are some examples of such actions, along with which (hypothetical) subforums one would use:

  • Ask your neighbors what their take on Common Core is: start a topic in Talk.
  • Create a poll to measure your neighbors' views on Common Core: in Talk》Polls.
  • Debate a neighbor with opposing views on the subject of Common Core: in Talk》Debates.
  • Organize a group to oppose a bond issue: Talk》Organizing.
  • Publicize your open-carry rally at the local Starbucks: Announcements.
  • Publicly admonish the local cable monopoly: Announcements》Open Letters forum.
  • Post a petition opposing a bond issue: Announcements》Petition.
  • Research the voting record and biography of the incumbent and his challengers: click on the links in District Politicians.
  • Read what the politicians are up to: read their posts in the relevant District Politicians subforum.
  • Ask your representative how he plans to vote on an upcoming bill, and to explain views relating to the bill's subject. While you're at it, ask the candidates the same thing: Ask Them Anything》Written Questions》Asked.
  • Propose a question for an upcoming scheduled live forum: Ask Them Anything》Written Questions》Upcoming Events

Some forums also facilitate untraditional political actions, such as the organization of informal verbal discussions. For example:

  • Tell your congressman he is greatly underestimating the danger that ISIS represents, and propose that the two of you discuss this issue over a tele-conference, with the footage to be made public afterwards: Ask Them Anything》Discussions》Proposed.

Depending on the subject, some actions will be appropriate for your Federal Senator's forum, others for your State Senator. Ideally there would be one forum for every officeholder.

Full participation is limited to registered voters to allow Representatives, if they wish, to focus mainly on the opinions and ideas of their constituents.

The phpBB internet forum software has been modified to allow upvotes. Because you can like any post to add your voice to what it says, it is easy to meaningfully participate. This functionality also reduces redundant activity. If somebody has written an open letter that expresses what you feel as well as you can, just click like below it. If it is scrolling down, add a reply to the effect that the user speaks for you in order to additionally increase its visibility.

The forums are intended to be complementary to traditional actions. If you've taken the time to express your opinions to your congressman on their website contact form, why not also post the text in the forums (or like a similar letter) to let your fellow constituents also know what you think?

If you have questions or suggestions about the forums, please put them in a new topic at the Feedback forum.