Del. Chris Runion, R-Bridgewater, was still knee-deep in his first General Assembly session when his legislative team started working on a new tool that would allow Runion’s constituents to voice their opinions in real time.
As a freshman delegate and the newest representative of the 25th District, which includes parts of Albemarle, Augusta and Rockingham counties, Runion and his legislative aide, Patrick Stott, received thousands of emails from constituents and non-constituents, making it difficult to track who to prioritize.
“I’ve got 4,000 emails received since session and 1,713 [emails] from one who isn’t my constituent,” Runion said Wednesday. “This [new tool] allows us to better target folks who are part of the 25th District.”
Runion said he saw a need to gather his constituents’ concerns in a more efficient manner after the conclusion of the 2020 General Assembly session, which led to a partnership with Voterfied — a direct voter engagement platform.
“I was looking forward to engaging our community, in person and every day, however, with the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, we’re not able to be in close contact or in large groups,” Runion said in a press release. “I believe Voterfied will allow us to connect with our constituents and listen to their concerns.”
Working as a new avenue of communication, Voterfied has been able to connect Runion to his constituents, while also tuning in to how constituents feel on a number of issues through a series of questions people can vote on.
Anyone can access chrisrunion.voterfied.us, but only a verified constituent can cast their vote on an issue, making it easy to know where Runion’s district stands on issues relating to COVID-19, the Second Amendment, casino gambling and other topics of discussion.
“It is very intuitive and easy to use, and I think our constituents will enjoy it,” Runion said.
Michael Allman, founder and CEO of Voterfied, said Wednesday the platform is a way to communicate more effectively and serves as an “electronic town hall that is always on.”
Garrett Hernandez Rimer, co-founder and director of Voterfied, said the platform can work on any level of government, not just the state level.
“It is a direct pathway of communication,” Herandez Rimer said. “We offer related sources for information on questions and when people vote, they get to see their voice counted in real time.”
Runion said Wednesday he was proud of his team for putting the platform together during a time when the General Assembly session was still happening and then later the effects of COVID-19.
“A good businessman is adaptive and attentive. We’re trying to replicate that in government,” he said.
With the platform going live on Wednesday, Runion said he will be able to better target those in the 25th District.
“We are here for the citizens of the commonwealth,” he said. “I want to listen. I want to hear.”