Want to call your senator or U.S.representative to let them know where you stand on an issue, but dont have the time to hunt down their phone number, wait on hold, or continually redial to get past the busy signals? A new app called Stance aims to help. Instead of simply providing a way to call your reps, as many apps today do, Stance lets you pre-record your voice message to be left on the reps voicemail when the phone lines are freed up.
But wait!, you ask. Dont congressional staffers answer the phones? How is Stance going directly tovoicemail to play yourmessage on their machine?
Simple. It only places the calls at night, so voicemail is sure to pick up.
Teichmanexplains he was inspired to build Stance after attending a political rally and hearing about the frustration people had when trying to call their reps.
At the same time I was reading and hearing more and more about the importance of calling Congress, he says. I thought there must be a better way for people to get through so I met with a few coworkers and we realized we were in a position to come up with a better solution.
The coworkers spent the next few weekends working on the app, which works on top of Twilio. They mapped out the call trees for each representatives office, so the calls can get through. The app also uses Enses API to record, store and post the audio which is why Stance is now an official company project within Ense.
Using Stance is pretty simple. The app uses your location to identify who your representatives are, including both House reps and Senators. Youre then taken to a screen where you can record your message.
The app doesnt have a political agenda. Instead, it offers basic how to instructions that remind you to say your name and location, tell the rep how you stand on the issue and what you want them to do, and it suggests that you make your recording personal.
The recordings are saved until after hours then sent to the reps voicemail.
However, there is one big caveat to using Stance: it publicizes your recordings. (The app discloses this during the sign-on process, so its not a surprise.)
Your recordings are published to Stances website and theyre tweeted atthe rep on Twitter, the company says.
The latter is meant only as another way of getting the reps attention, but tweets are not officially counted as outreach. However, many representatives have been overwhelmed with phone calls during the Trump presidency, and their voicemails remain full sometimes, intentionally. Tweeting at least gives you another means of having your voice heard.
Of course, not everyone wants to have their messages made public especially since they are leaving their full name and location. But at this time, theres no option to set a voice messageto private, which is something of an oversight.
That could dampen Stances potential usefulness for thosewho dont want their political leanings to be publicized, or who want to share their thoughts on touchy issues more privately.
For example, if you were reaching out regardingyour reps position on healthcare, you might want to makeyour messagemore meaningfulby sharing your own struggles with health issues and discuss how the current system, the Affordable Care Act, has impacted your life. And you might not want that message posted publicly on the internet.
One of Stances co-creators, and Enses Head of Product, Ashwinn Krishnaswamy,pushes back on the privacy concerns, saying that the public blowback hasnt been as great as we thought. Thats not entirely true, though many of theinitial App Store reviews are from people who dont like the apps public nature.
Krishnaswamy says that the team is still gathering feedback about the private versus public nature of Stances, however.
Stance is a free download for iOS or Android.