SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Facebook has a setting called the “Constituent Badge” which allows people to see when they comment about their representatives. Politicians say they like it because it helps them know when actual constituents contact them.
State Rep. Brian King of Salt Lake City notes that many times people will contact him and claim to be his constituent, when they actually live outside his district.
“They don’t understand the word constituent has particular meaning for me as an elected official,” said Rep. King.
It tends to be a bigger problem when his office is flooded with comments during hotly contested issues. Rep. King said he likes the idea of knowing when constituents are leaving comments. He hopes it gets more people involved knowing their comments won’t be lost in the shuffle.
The setting is under the Town Hall section of Facebook also allows voters to keep up with their representatives who have pages. Users have to enter their address and turn the badge on.
Morgan Lyon Cotti, Associate Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, believes the setting could help voters comments carry more weight.
“That signals to them that they need to pay attention, and they need to respond to that,” said Lyon Cotti. Although it will allow politicians to keep in touch with their actual constituents she notes they still need to do ground work.
“Politicians that are savvy will know that they need to use social media and use all these things,” said Lyon Cotti. “But there’s nothing quite like shaking your politicians hand.”
Although the setting has been available for several months, many are just learning about it as the midterm elections near.