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New Rapid Response Internet Task Force Builds Congress Contact Tool Around Amash Roll Call Vote

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, July 25 2013

Wednesday's floor vote on House Republican Justin Amash's amendment to withhold funding from the National Security Agency unless it curtails its surveillance techniques was one of the most closely-watched and lobbied bits of legislation in recent weeks, as the White House, top national security officials and both Senate and House leadership weighed in on one side, and large spectrum of activists on another.

The activists who lobbied for the Amash amendment note that the close margin of the vote -- 205 members for the amendment and 217 against -- reflects how the tide of public opinion may be slowly swaying members of the House.

Sina Khanifar, an entrepreneur and developer in San Francisco, hopes so. Khanifar recently founded a "volunteer rapid response Internet task force'" to build what are effectively tools-on-demand for activists to keep the momentum going in major campaigns.

The task force launched a new iteration of their tool Thursday. They've tweaked the site to collect e-mail addresses of people who would be willing to personally lobby their members of Congress during the August recess, and they've added the roll call vote on the amendment to the site, and placed buttons next to photos of the House members to encourage visitors to tweet or call them to speak to them on the way they voted.

In an e-mail to supporters, Khanifar reported Wednesday that the website "has seen over 150,000 unique visitors in the last 36 hours. 6,000 of those visitors reported calling their House representative, though the actual number is likely higher. Between our campaign and those organized by [American Civil Liberties Union,] Demand Progress, and others, at least ten of thousand calls were made to Congress in support of the amendment."

So while yesterday's vote was defeated by a narrow margin, this certainly won't be the last time that members will be hearing from the public on this issue.