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April 04, 2012


The Problem with Emailing Your Lawmaker

Matt Glassman notes it was easy for members of Congress to prioritize their interactions with constituents when all they received were letters in the mail.

"The problem with email, though, is that you can't tell if the sender is from the district or not. And there are quite obvious incentives to not exclude anyone who might be a constituent. And so the incoming email has a tendency to nationalize the constituent communications techniques used in most Member offices; there's just isn't a sorting algorithm that lets you separate your constituents from other citizens. Which means that the information context Members are facing in their offices is much more national in scope, even after they've tried to filter it. This has consequences. For one, it forces a complete rethinking of an office communications strategy. But it also distorts one's perspective of district opinion, and tends to orient Members toward national public policy; people from outside the district are much more likely to communicate about policy issues than distributive politics such as grants or earmarks."












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