Goes Live, Facilitating Online Civic Participation

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A new website designed to connect Maryland citizens with their elected officials will unveil its soft launch on December 1 for around 50 elected officials and stakeholders's soft launch is scheduled for December 1, 2012. Founder Ben Simon hopes to strengthen participation and transparency with the free, nonprofit platform.

Communication between representatives and residents is critical to making government work, and sites like are a great way to foster better communication.

After months of web development, 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 and help identify any changes that need to be made before the public beta launch later this year.

22-year-old 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 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 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 are a great way to foster better communication.” 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, 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. 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. has raised $65,000 so far and is continually seeking out additional funding. Most recently, 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 a $5,000 grant.

### is a new non-partisan, nonprofit website that connects Maryland residents with their elected officials to improve participation, transparency, and responsiveness in representative democracy.

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