Townhall technology lets lawmakers talk to masses from DC

Up to 35,000 households can join in on phonecalls with representatives. Not a replacement for trips home, lawmakers say, but a great way to keep the lines open.

Technology that can connect thousands of people on a single phone call is letting US representatives like Kansas' Jerry Moran reach out and touch their constituents without having to leave Washington, the AP reports. A “tele-town hall meeting” lets lawmakers call up to 35,000 households in their district at random by using a special automated dialing system.

“I’m not trying to replace the time I spend in Kansas,” said Moran, a Republican. “But this kind of technology allows me to tie my district together in a way that 69 individual town hall meetings does not.”

Rodney Smith, founder of Washington, D.C.-based Tele-Town Hall, says more than 50 members of Congress have tried the technology over the past year. "It’s like listening to a party line,” Smith said. “People very much enjoy the interaction, the fact that a congressman would call them, the fact that they get a chance to ask a question.”

“The technology is terrific because it allows me to have conversations with constituents in a way that, prior to this, was simply impossible,” said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn. He has conducted eight tele-town hall meetings since hearing about the concept from Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., who was the first lawmaker to try the service.

The service costs $2,500 for the first 25,000 answered calls, those that either are picked up by a live person or go to an answering machine or voice mail. Lawmakers pay for the service with the same funds used to set up local town hall meetings.


You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All