Just a few days into the 2017 legislative session, Sara was tracking over 400 bills in Missouri. She was complaining about her expensive, not very functional bill tracker and she was spending hours updating her bill spreadsheet to get the newest info on each bill. Out of that frustration, she asked her husband Tolij to develop a Google spreadsheet that would retrieve the newest bill information automatically – and Tolij actually enjoyed this little project. A few evenings later, FastDemocracy’s predecessor – a Google spreadsheet – was born.
Sara knew that her friends from other non-profits had similar problems. Initially, Tolij was just thinking of making his Google spreadsheet publicly accessible to anyone who wants to track legislation, but he didn’t find a good way of doing that.
During that time, Sara was invited as a panelist to many speaking events. Every single time the turnout was overwhelming, and it was clear that many people wanted to get active and do more than just voting every four years. Many of these people were asking how they can keep track of what their legislator is doing, and how they can make sure they act at the right time.
After that, at the end of January 2017, Tolij started coding FastDemocracy, and Sara contributed countless suggestions and tales from the world of state politics. We wanted FastDemocracy to be different from other bill trackers, free for everyone (as opposed to $2000/year or something like that) and easy to use (if you encounter problems, please let us know! We really care about user experience). We believe that everyone should have an efficient way of knowing what their legislators up to, not just lobbying firms who can afford to pay for expensive tools.
In October 2017, we decided to make a big push and to expand FastDemocracy to all 50 states and to US Congress. Since then, FastDemocracy’s user base has been growing quickly and it now includes influential state legislators and large activist groups who are using it every day to stay updated on bills. Tolij is regularly featured as a speaker in front of political groups – if your group is interested in a short presentation or a 1.5h training seminar, let us know!