WASHINGTON – Rep. Ben Cardin can now converse with his constituents over the information superhighway, becoming the first Maryland member of Congress to provide electronic mail to voters.
Cardin opened an e-mail message line this week, joining 48 members of the House of Representatives who communicate with the public via computer.
The Baltimore Democrat said going online will bring him into closer contact with his constituents and “will make it easier for them to communicate their views to me.”
Susan Sullam, Cardin’s press secretary, said the computer service should be particularly helpful in the 3rd District, which includes East Baltimore, Catonsville and parts of Howard County.
“We feel we’re in a fairly computer-literate area,” Sullam said.
She said she has no way of estimating how many people will use the online service. Typically, she said, House members with many computer-using constituents receive 200-300 messages a week.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s line receives thousands of messages each week, Sullam said.
All e-mail options for House members are available through a computer service run by the House Information Systems office.
Staffers for other area congressmen said they were interested in starting similar e-mail lines.
A spokeswoman at Rep. Constance Morella’s office said the Montgomery County Republican “will certainly do it sometime in the future.”
Sharon Magill, press secretary for Rep. Al Wynn, D-Prince George’s, said she expects Wynn will “be receptive” to the idea.
Those wishing to contact Cardin through e-mail must use the ID code: CARDIN@HR.HOUSE.GOV. Constituents must also include the following items in their messages to get a response:
-First name, middle initial, last name
-Street address, post office box or rural delivery route
-City or Town
“It’s very important that people put all of the necessary info on the message,” Sullam said. “If not, they won’t get a response.”
Cardin will respond in writing to all 3rd District residents who send e-mail messages.