A few weeks ago, I downloaded the free Countable app. It’s a free app that tries to make it easier to understand what laws are going in front of Congress and provide feedback to your lawmakers. Now that I’ve tried it out for a few weeks, here’s what I think.

Plain language explanation of bills – This is pretty great, actually. Bills are explained very simply. Also provided is a plain language summary of the argument for or against a bill. I do, however, worry that important nuances and details can be lost in these brief summaries.

Tracking legislation – Overall, I think this is one area where the website is more useful than the app. They do a summary of upcoming votes and issues at the beginning of the week (usually Monday). I find it’s easiest to pull it up via their website and then follow the links to the relevant pages. I particularly like that bill numbers are included, so I can refer to those if I want to call my representatives.

Feedback to elected representatives – I’m not exactly sure how this feedback gets delivered, but I know it does. I’ve gotten a form email from my senators for every time I’ve expressed an opinion on a bill. However, I’m not sure how much weight legislators put on communication from Countable. Most of what I’ve read suggests that they really only care about phone calls.

Seeing how Senators and Members of Congress have voted on bills – I really like this aspect of the app. It seems to be one of the easiest ways to see how your elected representatives have voted—and whether you want to support them the next time they’re up for reelection.

In general, I like using Countable and I’ve found it to be a great tool for trying to be more politically active and aware, but it’s not perfect. Except for places like California, Texas, San Francisco, and NYC, it’s not useful for following state and local politics. I also would like to find a way to see upcoming votes a bit earlier, so that I can better plan what I’m going to do and say.