Political Apps to Consider

Joel Howell

Article by Joel Howell Newsletter Editorial Board


As this is written, the 2016 presidential election is more than a year away, but we’re already overloaded with political news. Here are some apps that will help you get a handle on all those pressing issues.

Brigade, free on iOS, is a social network for discussion and informal polling on political issues. You can sign up for a free profile to find public opinions and vote on public views.

Want to keep up with the latest developments and polling results of Gallup? There’s an app for that. The Gallup News App, free on iOS, provides updated polls at 1p.m. every day, interactive graphs, polling data from over 140 countries, and access to Gallup blogs.

If you want a consolidated picture of political news, check out Politomix which is free on iOS. It scans 40 top political news sources and collects breaking news in one place. An alternate is Flipboard, free on iOS and Android, which has a more polished interface and does very much the same thing.

Want to know more about local and state representatives? iCitizen, free for iOS and Android, provides you with information about elected officials based on location. You can skip the letters and phone calls to your representative’s office and simply enter it into the ranking section of the app where it is sent for you. It also provides a personalized news feed, a social media feed to monitor your favorite politicians, and offers polling opportunities.

When candidates make reference to constitutional matters, you may want to brush up using the free iOS app Transcript of the United States Constitution by Clifton Marien. For Android, there is a free United States Constitution app by RBware with many extra documents and the ability to jump to Wikipedia for items within the app. It’s downloadable at the Google Play Store.

The Library of Congress has an official constitution app, free for iOS only, which has a more formal design. The app titled: U.S. Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation, contains clause by clause discussions of the Constitution and also includes all Supreme Court decisions with accompanying commentary. However, be aware that this is not nearly as sophisticated as those previously mentioned.

The Congressional Record App, free on iOS and Android, is another product of the Library of Congress. It allows users to keep up with the progress of congressional debates, bills, treaties, resolutions, and proceedings. All are archived in the database, which can be searched by date, keyword, or subject.

The official White House App is packed with easy to navigate news briefings and videos free on iOS and Android directly from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

If you’re so inclined, you can have classics such as Machiavelli’s The Prince and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War in your smart phone audio book reader. For those on the iOS interface, the iTunes Store has complete novels such as The Prince for $0.99. While these aren’t free, they are worthy and entertaining investments that serve as constant reminders that elections haven’t changed for centuries.

Finally, on another legal front, Harvard Law School is digitizing most of its library in conjunction with Ravel Law, a legal research and analytics platform. Literally slicing the spines off all but the rarest volumes, they are feeding forty million pages through a high speed scanner. “The Free the Law” initiative will provide open, wide-ranging access to a wealth of American legal reporters and literature for the first time in United States history. “Driving this effort is a shared belief that the law should be free and open to all,” said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minnow. “Using technology to create broad access to legal information will help create a more transparent and more just legal system.” Ravel is funding the costs of digitization and will be making all of the materials publicly available for free access and search at ravellaw.com.

Happy Holidays!

Questions or comments? Drop me an email: jwh3@mindspring.com