Happy Fifth Anniversary Resistbot
In five years, Resistbot has handled over 444 million text messages, delivered over 40 million pieces of correspondence to elected officials, and serviced nearly 10 million Americans home and abroad.
by Jason Putorti
On International Womens' Day five years ago, Resistbot was connected to the outside world and handled its first letter to the U.S. Congress. Created to solve the problem of busy signals in Congressional offices, its since grown to cover so much more. In five years, Resistbot has handled over 444 million text messages, delivered over 40 million pieces of correspondence to elected officials, and serviced nearly 10 million Americans home and abroad. Three separate studies conducted over eleven elections showed how it moved thousands of additional people to the polls, too. Resistbot members helped to save net neutrality and the dreamers in 2017, the Affordable Care Act in 2018, and the U.S. Postal Service in 2020. At the state level, Resistbot was instrumental in the 2019 Arizona teacher's strike, in the repeal of an anti-police transparency law in New York in 2020, slowing Enbridge Line 3 on Indigenous lands in 2021, and in defeating a CRT-inspired book banning law in Indiana in 2022, among other movements—and introducing millions of people to civic engagement along the way.
Soon after launch, volunteers added tools to allow people to register to vote, locate their polling places, check their registration to protect from voter roll purges, track mail-in ballots, and more as we needed to ensure the groundswell of activism was channeled to where it mattered most.
More tools also came to help users find nearby marches and rallies and physical and virtual town halls for their officials. During the pandemic, our volunteers sprung into action to provide testing, and later, vaccination lookups; data about local hospitals and resources like where to get masks; find farmers' markets, food banks, and co-ops; help with SNAP benefits and health care, and more.
Giving the Power to Organizers
Beyond the basics of helping everyone be heard, our volunteers have recently focused on creating accessible and cheap tools that organizers can use to build movements. The 5 million letters sent to Congress to save the USPS didn't come from us; it was sparked by Rachel in Tennessee, who, like many Americans, saw the potential problems of defunding the USPS in the middle of a pandemic and a quadrennial Presidential election. Even groups with resources use us, as we're also the easiest way to convert ordinary citizens to advocates and voters: Billie Eilish used us to get her fans to pledge to vote, KIND bars used us to advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment. These same tools are available to anyone and have only gotten more powerful. Today, you can create form letter campaigns to make action-taking easy for your friends and family, claiming a keyword (e.g., Text ROSIE to 50409), collect followers that the bot will text about all your future campaigns, and purchase text blasts to other Resistbot members cheaper than anywhere else. Our vision is that anyone should be able to create affordable and powerful lobbying or voter turnout campaigns over SMS, something that used to be difficult, complicated, and expensive—reserved for organizations with budgets and digital teams—and those movements should be transparent and public, so elected officials can't play dumb and say how they haven't heard from their constituents on your issue. Congress may lock away their correspondence, but we have all the receipts.
At the end of 2021, we finally launched our podcast and live show with the mission to elevate our organizers on the platform, and give voice to people who aren't being heard already on mainstream outlets. Our "all-girl band" of panelists don't look like who you usually see on Sundays, and they're your allies in activism. We also launched a new Telegram channel for organizers to share tips and help each other out in real-time.
Share Your Story
For some, Resistbot is more than just an app; it's a way of life: to regularly engage, listen to your neighbors, and speak for those who aren't heard as well as yourself. Do you have a story to share about how Resistbot helped you? Tweet it with #ResistbotAt5, and we'll share it below! If you believe in our mission of creating ever more powerful ways for citizens to build large public movements, please donate or organize a campaign now and make the change you want to see in the world. Thank you for being on this journey with us.