Samantha McDonald

PhD Candidate

University of California, Irvine

Samantha McDonald is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of California, Irvine. Using theories in political representation, digital democracy, and human-computer interaction, Samantha is investigating how the U.S. Congress uses ICT for constituent-communication. To perform this work, she has partnered with non-profits and organizations around Congress including the Congressional Management Foundation, The Open Gov Foundation, POPVOX, and the Democracy Fund. Currently, she is working with Members of Congress to develop and test new forms of digital communication for constituents.

Speaking In

It takes two: when citizens and Congress Members deliberate online

In the US, each Member of the House of Representatives must try to survey, interpret and act upon the views of, on average, 700,000 constituents. Understandably, this can be a difficult task, often skewed by who has the stronger lobbyists or advocacy campaigners.

Could an online deliberation platform improve things? From the constituents' point of view, apparently yes — there was high engagement and eagerness to discuss the topic at hand. But, then there is the complication of Congress. Samantha talks us through the barriers to important changes to constituent engagement and what we need to do to surpass them.