As a nation, the US seems to be more interested in politics than we’ve been in a long time. Voter turnout in last year’s presidential election was 61%, the first time it passed 60% in 40 years. When President Obama was inaugurated in January, Google reported spikes in search activity. Yahoo said that inaugural search trends were the result of “a large, internet-savvy constituency who demand more from the internet than they did four years ago.”
But now that the election and inauguration are distant memories, how do we search today for news about the important decisions being made in Washington, DC? How do we find out what our local representatives are saying and, most importantly, how they’re voting? Traditional media reports on some of what happens in Congress, and of course there’s information on the official web sites of your local representatives. Some lawmakers use Twitter and YouTube to communicate with constituents. But there’s also a new way to search and find out what’s happening in Washington — a new political search engine of sorts called Legistalker.
Just launched in April, Legistalker covers all US legislators, tracking things like their appearances in traditional news, their Twitter feeds, and videos they upload to YouTube. Legistalker says its database is updated every 20 seconds. You can search for a specific legislator, or see all lawmakers for a particular state or zip code. When you reach the profile page of an individual Congressperson, Legistalker adds tabs to see the person’s votes and even a tag cloud showing the most frequently used words in his/her remarks on the Congressional floor.
To make searching easier in the future, you can add any legislator to a “watch list” — and this doesn’t require creating an account or logging in to the site. (It doesn’t even offer accounts/logins, for that matter.)
All in all, Legistalker is a compelling way to search and find out what’s happening in Washington, DC.