Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lobbyist Develops Vote Tracker App

An Oregon lobbyist has come up with a 21st century way of keeping track of where lawmakers stand. Shawn Miller is a capitol veteran whose clients include major players such as Associated Builders and Contractors, the Northwest Grocery Association, and Pacificorp. He's just released something called VoteCount, which is a smartphone application that allows users to track how lawmakers plan to vote on specific bills.

Lobbyists have long used paper tally sheets to keep track of legislators' positions. But Miller says those paper sheets quickly get cluttered with notes and revisions. He figured somebody out there had developed a digital version of the tally sheet, but he couldn't find any. And as he worked with a programmer to develop one, he found that many of his fellow lobbyists thought it was a great idea and wanted their own copy. Eventually, Miller developed an "app" that's adaptable to all 50 states and Congress.

The VoteCount app, which retails for about $20, allows users to place each lawmaker in a "yes," "leaning yes," "leaning no," and "no" column. It has a filter to let you sort the lawmakers by committee, and even updates itself after elections to reflect legislative turnover. "We're basically professional counters," says Miller. He says the app is an "influence management tool."

Many legislatures have wrapped up their work for the year, but Miller says he's already gotten feedback from lobbyists in Florida, Michigan, Louisiana and New York. The big prize, in terms of potential sales, would be the K Street market. To that end, Miller has landed an interview this Friday with Roll Call.