Electronic Technology in
the House of Representatives
Recorded and roll call votes are normally taken by electronic device, except when the Speaker orders the vote to be recorded by other methods prescribed by the Rules of the House.More >
Beginning in 1844, innovation fashioned an information transformation in Congress. Six technologies revolutionized the way the House conducted business and disseminated information from the halls of the House of Representatives to constituents in their districts: telegraph, telephone, radio, electronic voting, television, and computer.
Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message from the Capitol to Baltimore, MD. Later some of the Nation's first telephone lines were placed in Washington, D.C. The House was more cautious about embracing radio and television on the House Floor. Although special events were occasionally televised, the first broadcast of legislative proceedings did not take place until 1977. After 175 years of considering various systems, the House conducted its first electronic vote in 1973. The computer revolution spread around the world in the 1990s and the House of Representatives was quick to join in 1993 with the first Internet, e-mail constituent service. In the more than 150 years since Congress embraced electronic technology to facilitate the business of the House and communicate with the country each development has made the legislative process more accessible to Americans.