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Five Free Apps To Keep You Politically Updated This Election Year

Stay politically smart with these apps for your smartphone.
Stay politically smart with these apps for your smartphone.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Too many folks who are politically progressive wind up losing arguments with others. That’s not because these progressives are wrong, but simply because they’re not up-to-date enough to counter the latest falsehoods. After all, we’re not old, uneducated, unemployed folks with nothing better to do than park ourselves in front of right-wing television channels all day. We’re mobile, damn it!

That mobility due to work and social lives can keep progressives out-of-the-loop on current political news, however, and can leave us subject to unfinished arguments with Fox fans and other fools.

Thankfully, though, there are many mobile applications we can use to keep us up-to-date on political issues, and that can let us keep the facts straight with just a tap on our smartphones.

Here are five recommended for politically progressive use. Share these apps (and this article) with your progressive friends. And if you know of other relevant apps, please note them in the comments below.

Settle It!
Settle It! PolitFact

Settle It!

We all have political arguments in which both sides toss out opposing facts and figures from various sources in defense. But how can you quickly determine which side is correct, especially when those sources could be hiding behind the legal wall that limits “truth in advertising” laws in political ads?

Well, now you can just slip out your smartphone and use the Settle It! app, offered for free by the Tampa Bay Times’ award-winning PolitiFact.

Calling itself an “argument ender,” Settle It! lets you search data on politicians and political topics and examine their “Truth-O-Meter” ratings. The mobile app also includes a “PolitiFact Challenge” game that lets you test your knowledge of the validity of many different topics and claims.

Settle It! is available for free download from its website, and in both iPhone and Android formats.

(You can also get PolitiFact’s traditional “Truth-O-Meter” for your iPhone/iPad or Android, but only for a $1.99 cost.)

Congress
Congress Sunlight Foundation

Congress

If you want detailed, up-to-date information related to Congress, then look no further than this mobile application of the same name.

The Congress app, maintained by the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, offers a smorgasbord of information with very regular updates, and is very easy to use, as well.

The app provides:

  • updates on bills to be discussed and voted on, complete with official bill text and summaries;
  • a consistently-updated listing of all motions and votes, as well as listing of who voted and how;
  • detailed records of what occurred on the floors of both the House and Senate; and
  • listing of all upcoming committee hearings, as well as separate listings of all committees and their members.

The Congress app also provides complete listing of all senators and representatives, their recent votes and sponsored bills, their contact information, and even maps of their districts. You can also set the app to follow specific congresspersons and particular bills, too.

Visit the Sunlight Foundation’s website for free download of the app for your iPhone, Android or Kindle Fire. You’ll be impressed with how detailed, in-depth, current and easily-used this app is.

Ad Hawk
Ad Hawk Sunlight Foundation

Ad Hawk

Just as impressive as its Congress app is the Sunlight Foundation’s Ad Hawk.

Ever catch political attack ads on TV or radio and wonder who’s really behind them? Funky election laws let Super PACs and non-profit groups sponsor such advertisements behind cloudy veils of generic names, as if to keep you from knowing their true goals and influences.

This new mobile application can answer those questions, though, and with an almost magical subtlety. Simply activate the app when you see or hear such an ad. Ad Hawk will make audio recording, compare it to the thousands of advertisements in its database, and in less than one minute tell you who’s really behind that generically-named advertiser. It can tell you which organizations are funding the ads, and even how much those groups have spent in aiding campaigns of Republicans and Democrats.

Ad Hawk was first launched in 2012, and is under consistent update for this year’s election cycle, says the Sunlight Foundation.

Download Ad Hawk on your iPhone or Android for free directly from its website.

Gallup Polls
Gallup Polls Gallup

Gallup Polls

To hell with all those op/eds and slanted “news” articles; concrete statistics are what you want to form your opinions upon and to back-up your arguments, right?

You can get that data directly with an app (updated daily) from Gallup, a leading pollster that regularly surveys Americans on topics of politics, employment, economy, standard of living, and even public mood.

With the free Gallup app, you’ll also get articles, charts and even videos on poll findings.

Get the iPhone/iPod version from Gallup’s website, and the Android version from Google Play.

iCitizen
iCitizen iCitizen

iCitizen

While many can give you information, this iCitizen app wants to give you a voice, too.

Released in late 2013, iCitizen lets you pick specific political topics to follow, such as budget, health, and foreign affairs, and will provide you with regular updates on these issues from many different news sources. The app also informs you when bills are introduced on those topics.

In addition to listings of both federal and state legislators, including their contact information, iCitizen provides record of their recent votes, bills, and campaign contributions. The app also polls its users, and sends its poll results to elected officials, too.

Just click on the “GET iCitizen” icon on the organization’s website to download the app on your iPhone or Android.