When it comes to gun control, the White House is murkier than ever. Senate Bill 649, which primarily deals with stricter background checks, bigger punishments for drug trafficking, and programs devoted to school safety, is facing mounting filibuster threats and complicated opinions from Senators. Not many are speaking out publicly on the issue — making it difficult to get a clear picture of how the bill will fare, or even if it will make it out of the Senate at all.
ProPublica is shining a light on the battle for gun control by reporting on every Senator’s position on the issue. Of course, individually tracking down 100 offices for comment is outside the resource capabilities for a typical newsroom, so ProPublica is relying on the power of the people to help them #TrackTheVote.
The process is simple: users can find the contact information for their local senator’s office using ProPublica’s extensive Senate office database, find a statement or contact the office to get a comment on the bill, and fill out a quick survey on ProPublica’s website. After some vetting and fact-checking, the information is fully available to the public through the same contact directory available on the page.
The non-profit newsroom currently only has 16 percent of their project complete, but given the way the bill is moving along, there’s a good chance that the project will get a better idea of the vote before it actually happens.
This isn’t the first time that ProPublica has called upon the opinons and work ethic of its readers to get a better idea of a particular subject, but this is the first project that aims to predict the Senate’s behavior. The implications of the project are huge, especially since it has the potential to hold Senators accountable for their public comments as they are applied to the actual vote. Taking advantage of crowdsourcing in this project is also ingenius, since politicians are much more likely to respond to constituents than a particular news outlet.
What do you think of ProPublica’s efforts to track SB649? Let us know in the comments.