May 25 AT 8:16 PM Anthony Domanico 23 Comments

Congress for Android: Social activism just got a bit more mobile

My parents told me to never talk politics with people you don’t know…or people you do know for that matter. As such, I’m not going to reveal my political tendencies, who my favorite candidate is, or whether I agree or disagree with the current health care reform legislation. What I will do, however, is suggest that no matter whether or not you agree with President Obama’s beliefs or objectives, one of the better things he has brought to the American people is a growing interest in social activism. Love him or hate him, more and more people are becoming more active in making the world a better place (as defined by themselves of course).

Sunlight Labs, an open-source community of developers and designers aimed at opening up government to make it more transparent, accountable, and responsible, released an Android application entitled Congress, which is aimed at getting Android users more involved in government. Currently in version 2.2, Congress allows users to find and call their elected officials using their location and read the latest bills and laws that have gone through or are currently going through the U.S. Congress.

Unlike the real congress, the Congress Android app is intuitive and user-friendly. Everything seems to just work. Sunlight Labs has a team of open-source developers who are constantly evaluating user feedback and are rapidly introducing bugfixes and new features.

The main screen allows you to search for new laws, legislation that has newly been introduced to congress, and even view the results from the latest congressional votes. The legislation pages gives a brief overview of the legislation, significant dates in the bill’s journey to becoming law, who the congressional sponsor was, and a summary of what the bill will actually do.

It also allows you to search for legislators by location, state, zip code, or legislator name.  The legislator page features a profile image of the congressperson, one-click access to calling their office, visiting their website, viewing bills that they have sponsored, and what committees they are currently serving on. It also allows you to view recent news stories and YouTube videos involving the legislator.

Final Verdict: Yes, I’m skipping over the pros and cons mostly because I think this app is absolutely fantastic. If you’re an activist or are simply interested in political issues, you owe it to yourself and, dare I say it, your country, to download this app.

Congress can be found for free on the Android market.

Congress Legislation Detail Congress legislator main page 2 Congress legislator main page Congress Main Screen Congress New Laws Congress Plucking youtube videos

Source: Sunlight Labs

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • E-man

    How funny that you should post Rep. Campbell.
    He is actually my areas representative.
    He needs to loose his office.

    • Anthony Domanico

      LOL. I just picked a random bill and clicked the sponsor’s name.

    • http://Website F man

      “He needs to loose his office.”

      His office is too tight???

  • http://Website Daniel

    Sorry for the off-topic, but things were quite busy as you were taking these screenshots, eh? New e-mail on two sources, 143 tweets… not to mention the voice mail waiting there!

  • http://Website Gregory

    Android and Me is kinda slow updating new stories and apps. I saw this on Androinica last week.

    • Anthony Domanico

      Sorry about that… we do need to take “time off” from time to time.

    • Clark Wimberly

      Considering it first appeared on the market back in November, I think it’s safe to say we are all a bit late.

  • JohnnyACEâ™  GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}â„¢

    They should include campaign donations like does.


    • JohnnyACEâ™  GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}â„¢

      I agree.


  • Tony Bullard

    I hope they expand this program to include links to sites like and that break down what candidates have done in the past.

    I’m glad to see an app like this. Making it easier for people to get themselves heard to their reps is very important.

  • http://Website Artar

    Great review Anthony. Keep up the good work.

  • http://Website Ryan

    Oh look… an app that allows us to see the most corrupt people in our country! Yay!

    • SGB101

      +1 for Ryan, ive seen 24, they are a bad lot. unlike the lot a thievin bar-stuards we have in the UK ;-)

      • Francisco Ribeiro

        They are not corrupt, just a little bit mislead on who they should be serving (like the people instead of themselves) :) peace!

  • Francisco Ribeiro

    Could you make one of the Portuguese Parliament and Government? It would hilarious for one of our representatives to receive a phone call from a citizen telling him what he should do :)

  • http://Website Mark

    Great app. Got a chance to let my congresspeople know how much they are crapping on our country.

  • http://Website Lonnie VanZandt

    Ah, the feeling of being beat. I’m playing with the beginnings of an Android app which uses the REST/JSON api to implement a Candidate tracker app. And … here one is (perhaps even using the same API?) in the market already.


    • http://Notquiteacompleteoverlap Lonnie VanZandt

      After installing and using it, I realize that: 1) it’s very nice and responsive and 2) the app is not providing the same information which I am attempting to provide. “Congress” is providing detailed information for legislators and legislation for current, Federal congress(men|women). The information which I am attempting to present is for election candidates (many who are incumbents and would have Congress entries) and their issues. Many of the votesmart-tracked candidates aren’t in Congress because they haven’t been elected or are candidates for state or local elections.

      So, my project isn’t entirely irrelevant.

      Congress is a great case study for me as it solves many of the same “ok, how could I present this kind of information and guide the user between the topics?” questions while presenting a nice User Interface to study and appreciate.

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