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"If automation of some parts of franking review is a priority for members, it might be time to invite vendors to propose solutions," argues Marci Harris.

How 18th century rules for congressional 'mail' could work in the 21st

Harris is the CEO of Popvox Inc., an online platform providing information and resources for civic engagement and legislating.

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress on Thursday takes up what some might consider the most arcane, inside-baseball, boring topics on Capitol Hill — but one that I get very excited about given its potential to keep congressional information from going totally off the rails: franking!

The congressional franking privilege, which originally allowed members of Congress to send official mail to their constituents at government expense, dates from 1775, when it was approved by the First Continental Congress. Of course, this privilege was abused over the years, leading to the creation of the Congressional Franking Commission, which is charged with regulating and limiting how official resources are used for communication.

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