College Park, MD (PRWEB) November 30, 2012
After months of web development, MyMaryland.net is excited to announce that the soft launch of the site will take place December 1, 2012. Around 50 elected officials and stakeholders will be invited to create accounts and preview the site.
The alpha launch will serve as a tool to gauge the effectiveness of MyMaryland.net and help identify any changes that need to be made before the public beta launch later this year.
22-year-old MyMaryland.net founder, Ben Simon, began designing the site with fellow University of Maryland students after identifying the need for a more responsive and transparent government. Their vision is in the final steps of becoming a reality.
Team MyMaryland.net has met with 55 elected officials so far and has received extremely positive feedback. Many of these officials will be invited to take part in the alpha site launch. Others invited will include journalists, prospective funders, and organizational partners.
Delegate Tom Hucker (D – Dist. 20), a supporter of the MyMaryland.net vision, says, “Lawmakers need to hear more input on more issues more often. Communication between representatives and residents is critical to making government work, and sites like MyMaryland.net are a great way to foster better communication.”
MyMaryland.net is designed as a platform for the average person to make his or her voice heard, and the site offers an array of tools for voters and elected officials to connect. When users enter their address, MyMaryland.net scans the Maryland Voter Registration File to verify them as registered voters. They are then linked to information pages for their elected officials.
Users have the ability to vote on bills, post in forums and even create petitions. Elected officials are able to engage directly with constituents by creating polls and participating in online discussions.
MyMaryland.net anticipates a beta launch to the general public by the end of 2012. The Maryland site is just a pilot, and Simon hopes to eventually expand the site to all 50 states. The site’s ultimate goal is to facilitate dialogue between constituents and officials on the local, state and national levels of government.
MyMaryland.net has raised $65,000 so far and is continually seeking out additional funding. Most recently, MyMaryland.net was granted one of ten spots in Points of Light’s inaugural Civic Accelerator program. The program includes $10,000, a three-month mentorship and the chance at competing for an additional $50,000 in funding.
Last month, the Sunlight Foundation, a major organization in the open government movement, awarded MyMaryland.net a $5,000 grant.
MyMaryland.net is a new non-partisan, nonprofit website that connects Maryland residents with their elected officials to improve participation, transparency, and responsiveness in representative democracy.