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The 3-Minute Interview: Ben Simon of MyMaryland.net

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People,Taylor Holland

Simon is co-founder of MyMaryland.net, a website dedicated to connecting Maryland voters with their elected officials. The site launched on Dec. 1, giving users the ability to record whether they're for or against bills, post in forums and create petitions. Elected officials are also able to engage directly with constituents by creating polls and participating in online discussions.

Tell me about yourself. What got you started with this project?

I'm a 22-year-old senior at the University of Maryland, College Park, who has been working with nonprofit organizations for about five years now. I've launched two start-ups, with MyMaryland.net being one of them.

What made you want to start an interactive website such as this one?

MyMaryland.net is democracy's first-ever 24/7 online town hall that connects voters and elected officials. It's a new tool for average people to have their voice heard. We're also guided by our mission to boost government transparency and accountability and reduce the influence of money in politics.

What are some of the website's highlights?

Half of the website focuses on engaging voters, while the other half keeps them informed. On each online town hall, we'll package the most important information about bills and stream them in real time to help keep voters informed.

Do you think something such as this can successfully link constituents and lawmakers?

Last spring, we met with 55 delegates, [most] of whom expressed their support of the website. We're just touching up the platform and hope to be fully functional by next month.

What's your ultimate goal for the website?

In five years, we think it will completely revolutionize the relationship between voters and government leaders and make it easy for everyone's voices to be heard. If successful, we want to expand it to all 50 states.

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