ACLU guides voters online

A new ACLU Web site that allows voters to both check out their representatives voting record and become involved in civil liberty issues joins a myriad of sites sprouting up this election year.

CNET News staff
2 min read
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has long-issued voter guides using that passé medium of paper, today launched an Online Voter Guide bringing voting records only a click away.

The guide ranks House and Senate members on 19 key issues. And according to the ACLU's criterion, the 104th Congress failed miserably.

The average ratings were 30 percent for the Senate and 36 percent for the House. In the House, 13 representatives received 100 percent ratings and 57 members received zero ratings. No one in the Senate got either 100 or zero ratings.

This Web site joins a myriad of sites sprouting up this election year that promise everything from partisan politics to impartiality and beyond.

It allows users to search by zip code, state, or issue. Each elected official is listed with charts showing whether their votes matched those of ACLU endorsements. Surfers also can use the guide to examine votes on any issue.

That's why the ACLU decided to jump into the fray, said Phil Gutis, the ACLU's media director.

"Everybody's trying to educate voters about their issues and the ACLU has to play or lose," he said. "We think it's important that people know how their representatives and senators voted on these issues. Before the Internet hit us we had no way of getting this in a timely way. The ACLU has put out voter guides for years but they've been sitting on shelves."

In addition to past voting records, the ACLU will launch a service--beginning with the new congressional session next year--that will be updated daily with issues and votes.

As issues that the ACLU considers significant emerge, the ACLU not only will let voters know about them but also will let them know what they can do, Gutis said. For instance, users will be given the tools to instantly fax or email their representatives.

"People want to know this information," Gutis said. "People want to know how they can influence their representatives, especially people who care about the issues."