Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Finding Your Legislator

It's funny. We have a presidential election and EVERYBODY shows up to vote.

We have a municipal election and nobody knows it even happened. We seem to pay a little more attention at the state level, but not much. How many of us even know the name of our state legislators? Every person in Utah has two: One in the House and one in the Senate.

It's funny because, in a very real way, the state legislators have a much bigger impact on my life than the President of the United States. Their biggest task of all, in addition to occasionally passing or not passing a state law, is to figure out how they're gonna spend my tax dollars in my state. That will impact me a lot more directly than most federal programs.

I've learned, over the years, that this is a very important issue, and something that we should take very seriously.

So, after quite a while of digging through the 'net last election, trying desperately to find out which districts we're in, and who were the candidates, and what did they stand for, etc... It's a real joy to find a tool like this one!

You simply type in your address. It finds it on Google Maps, draws in your congressional district boundaries, and then shows you your legislators with their phone numbers and links to websites and email addresses. So simple!

So, if you want to tell them to vote to not cut the services to the disabled, like I suggested last time, or if you want to tell them to vote any other way on any other issue you think is important, there you have it.

If any of you have other good online resources for following and influencing the state legislators, just let me know and I'll post it here!

Mark Hansen


  1. Here's tho official version of the page you linked to (the Utah legislature page where you type in your address) - http://le.utah.gov/maps/amap.html

    The whole legislature site is pretty good for getting information - http://le.utah.gov/

  2. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for posting Scott's app. The state legislator info display is super

    I work for a geospatial software development group based in Philadelphia, PA. I'm working on a team that is building a similar (but with national coverage) legislative district lookup app called 'Cicero' (a webservice API). Check it out here.

    Though national and even state-level legislative data is widely available, local data is particularly hard to find. We have put a lot into finding data for national through local-level legislatures. We now have local city council district data for over 90 cities in the US and Canada as well as national and state level data for the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

    You're right on in saying that, in some ways, state and local elected officials directly affect our lives more than national level legislators. It's been fascinating to watch how people have used Cicero. Some people have used it to analyze their grant-giving by legislative district, newspapers have used it to allow their readership to track election results and others have used it in call-to-action campaigns. People want to know who represents them locally!

  3. hey, thanks for the link to ScottRiding's mashup -- that's really cool. I'm going to suggest it to my ProvoCitizens.net group.

    Also, you'll want to know about this website -- http://utah.gov/pmn

    It allows you to signup to get email notifications with the agendas of any upcoming public meetings for a city, county, or state government entity.

    Very cool -- the legislature set it up during last year's legislative session.

    By law all government entities within the state are required to post their agendas to it at least 24 hours in advance if not more.



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