Congress is embarrassingly behind the curve when it comes to technology. For example, former Speaker Newt Gingrich doesn’t know the word “smartphone.” A far more dangerous example can be found in the numerous bills, like SOPA and CISPA, that Congress has tried to pass in the last few years. That’s probably not going to change anytime soon, but one freshman lawmaker at least wants to make Congress a little more tech conscious.
The Hill reports that Rep. Eric Swalwell has submitted a proposal that would allow Congress to vote on noncontroversial bills via a remote and secure voting system. Of course, this would only be allowed under a suspension of regular rules so the more important bills would still require Congressmen to be there in person. His hope is that the system would allow representatives to be at home more often instead of staying in Washington for weeks on end.
It should come as no surprise that such a forward thinking proposal has come from the newly elected representative of California’s 15th district. The district just so happens to be a little north of Silicon Valley so maybe he could get one of his friends down there to build this secure voting system.
In even better news, Swalwell is also proposing that lawmakers and witnesses be able to participate in hearings from home via videoconferencing. It would allow Congress to question more people, including those that can’t make it out to Washington, in hearings. Some particularly lazy Congressmen might also be encouraged to attend more hearings as well.
There’s a lot of security issues that would need to be worked out, but this is an incredibly good idea. I can just see somebody complaining that rewriting the rules to allow this would favor one party or another though. Here’s hoping, however, that Congress will see that a little modernization can go a long way towards improving the system for everyone.