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Of the people, for the people--by Web

In an effort to gain support for the pending vote on term limits in Congress, Missouri Senator John Ashcroft has launched what he says is the first online citizen petition.

    In an effort to gain support for the pending vote on term limits in Congress, Missouri Senator John Ashcroft has launched what he says is the first online citizen petition.

    Ashcroft's site lets voters send him messages to either support or oppose the term limit amendment, which is scheduled to be decided in Congress in two weeks. The site lets users read background information on term limits, find out where their senators stand on the issue, and read speeches given by Ashcroft on the subject.

    "This online term limits petition represents an opportunity for the voice of America to be heard. Just as petition drives have led to successful ballot initiatives in the states, it is my belief that this online petition drive can demonstrate the power of the Internet in our democracy," Ashcroft in a statement.

    Ashcroft believes the Internet has the potential to be one of the most effective ways to involve the public directly with government, a stance becoming increasingly fashionable on Capitol Hill. Last month, a group of Senate and House members formed the Internet Caucus to educate and help guide Congress through cyberspace.

    Because there are no laws on how the Internet can be used to raise political support, Ashcroft was required to obtain permission to launch the online petition from the Senate Special Rules Committee before his staff designed the site.

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