What features are included?
We’re constantly adding on new features. This is not an exhaustive list, but as of May 2021, we include:
- Vote Index, Total Score, or Letter Grade Scoring
- Color coded scoring
- Color selection for headlines, name backgrounds, hyperlinks, and positive/negative/neutral votes
- Search for your representatives by address
- Sort and filtering by party, chamber, name, and score
- State filtering and filtering by clicking a US Map on Congressional Scorecards
- District filtering on State Scorecards
- Customizable default sorting by score, alphabetically, state or district
- 1 optional text widget in the sidebar where you can enter in your own copy and links
- Customizable background image
- Voting record with links to the most recent bills with activity
- Bill sponsorship info on each legislator profile
- A link to a legislator’s full, public BillTrack50 profile containing recent bills they voted on, Sponsored Bills, Votes, Committees, Staff, and Biography. See this legislator’s example.
- Current legislator contact info
- Official legislator headshots, updated annually
Any of these bill features can be easily turned on/off to match your preferences. For an example of most of these features turned on, visit Rep. Greg Vitali on ACLU-PA’s scorecard.
- Comments section for each bill with link to more information about the bill
- Bill Number, Bill Name, Score, Date, Motion, Vote information.
- Position: Positive Bills show a Support position. Negative Bills show an Oppose position.
What additional features are planned?
2021 planned development iteration includes:
- Additional layout option for Congressional Scorecards
- Comments per legislator
- Mobile improvements to legislator profile tables
- Accounts management system for easy account updates
What total scoring options are included?
Vote Index, Total Scores, or Letter Grading. For any of these options, you can set color-coded ranges.
Vote Index scores are percentage based, so they will display as 0-100 in the scorecard.
Total Scores are the total number of points and can display as positive or negative scores in the scorecard.
Letter Grading is based on the Vote Index scores. We then calculate those into letter grades for you. You can choose any scoring range for any letter grade.
What types of scoring formulas do you support?
Most organizations award a specific number of points per legislative action. Example:
Voting in line +2 Points
Voting out of line -2 Points
Absent for Voting +0 Points
Absent votes can also be removed from the total score so as not to hurt the legislator’s overall score.
Sponsoring or co-sponsoring in line bills +5 points
We may or may not be able to support “bonus points”, unless they are based on specific legislative actions which BillTrack50 has data for. Contact us for questions regarding your formula and we can help find out what’s possible.
How many years of scorecards can I have?
One year comes with the standard plugin. When purchasing, you can choose to upgrade to a multi-year subscription, which enables years from 2011 until today. Once upgraded, multiple years will display as tabs at the top of each individual legislator’s page.
Multi-year: National Parks Action Fund
How many years back can you display data for?
We can display data from 2011 onward, since that’s when BillTrack50’s data starts.
Can you do Lifetime Scoring?
Yes, when purchasing, you can choose to upgrade to a multi-year subscription that includes lifetime scoring. Once upgraded, lifetime scoring will display on each individual legislator’s page. We have not built this feature to display on landing page. See below for how this is laid out or view the National Parks Action Fund’s 2020 Congressional Scorecard or the ACLU-PA’s scorecard for live examples
Can I add a different comment on each legislators pages?
Not quite yet, but that’s an incoming 2021 feature. BillTrack50 is working on adding this feature into their API. Once it’s added, then we will add it to our scorecard software too.
Can I use this without a BillTrack50 subscription?
No. You must have a paid BillTrack50 Pro, Unlimited, or Enterprise subscription. BillTrack50 is an affordable Bill Tracking service that monitors and scrapes new bill and votes data.
Our software turns that data into meaningful information for your followers. So it requires a BillTrack50 API key, which you can request directly from BillTrack50.
Is this plugin only for WordPress sites?
Currently, yes. However, we can create a hosted WordPress microsite that houses the scorecard, if you’d like to use it. Also, we are actively working on integrating this into other platforms as well. If you would like to request a platform, please contact us.
How are you affiliated with BillTrack50
While we get regular feedback and input from BillTrack50, we are separate entities.
BillTrack50 is your data source. Their speciality is legislative tracking, so they are your database and backend for all bills and votes data. They include legislation updates 2x per day, alert you daily of legislation changes, and aggregate legislation data from various sources.
We are your web software provider. Our software is a layer on top of BillTrack50. We pull in your bills and votes data from their platform and display it on your website. We provide features, like: Find Your Legislator, search and filtering, and official legislator headshots that they don’t provide.
Do you archive and display historical data for all former legislators who are no longer in office?
If a legislator has left office but made a vote in your most recent scorecard, you can log into BillTrack50 and go to your scorecard. Then edit your scorecard’s settings via the ‘Manage’ tab to include out of office legislators in the scorecard. Then they will display along with any votes they made in previous years, if you’ve purchased our multi-year scorecard. Former legislator headshots will not display.
If are just wanting a historical archive of current and former legislators who were in office in years past, that’s not available in our scorecard.
Do you offer discounts for nonprofits?
The vast majority of our customers are non-profits, so our pricing is set accordingly. However, we do offer a free fundraising toolkit that non-profits may use.
Who do we contact for support or feature requests?
How is the State Scorecard different than the Congressional Scorecard option?
In our filtering, we add the ability to filter by District.
How is the Congressional Scorecard different than the State Scorecard
In our filtering, we add the ability to filter by State.
We also include an optional map of the United States a user can click on, which allows them to filter by State.
Installation & Setup
How do I set up a scorecard on BillTrack50?
- Sign up for a free Citizen level account on BillTrack50.
- In your Citizen account, click the free trial link to start a trial. The trial allows you to create your first Bill Sheet. Then, search for and add bills to a bill sheet. (You will later use this bill sheet to populate your scorecard.) Watch this video to learn how to start a free trial and search for bills.
- Email Karen, Founder of BillTrack50, at Karen@LegiNation.com. Let her know you’re interested in demoing her scorecard feature to get it added to your trial account.
- Add your Bill Sheet’s bills to your scorecard. For more on that, watch how to set up a scorecard or schedule a short scorecard demo with Karen.
WordPress Theme Requirements
Your theme must have a full-width desktop template of 960px wide or wider to display this scorecard. If you don’t have one included, you could look at creating a child theme to add one.
We do not recommend using a page template that includes a sidebar, because our plugin comes with a built-in sidebar.
We support the same server system requirements as WordPress: PHP v7.4+, MySQL v5.6+, https/SSL, and the latest version of WordPress.
The scorecard keeps showing a loading symbol and the scorecard fields in the WordPress admin ARE greyed out.
Back up your site. Then set the WordPress permalink structure to ‘post-name’. Here’s an example.
The scorecard keeps showing a loading symbol and the scorecard fields in the WordPress admin are NOT greyed out.
Go to BillTrack50.com and log into your account. If you’re not able to log in and view your bills, then BillTrack50 is likely down. Please let your contact at BillTrack50 know. Otherwise, if you are able to log into BillTrack50 and view bills, contact our team instead.
It’s the start of the new session and my legislators aren’t displaying.
Legislator votes determine which legislators your scorecard grades and includes. If you’ve changed your scorecard to a new session, no legislators will show because they haven’t made any votes yet. To solve this, contact BillTrack50 and have them add a dummy bill in your BillTrack50 scorecard with a vote for each legislator. Once you get House and Senate votes, you can remove this dummy bill.
It’s the start of the new session and I only have votes for House members.
It likely means the bill has been voted on in the House, but not the Senate yet. You can view that bill’s current status in the detail section of the individual BillTrack50 bill.
Some legislator headshots are missing
For new legislators, their headshots will pull in once they have cast a vote that has been pulled into your scorecard. If they do not display, contact us.
All legislator headshots are missing
A legislator has left office this year but I still want to show them in my scorecard for the current year
Log into BillTrack50 and go to your scorecard. Edit your scorecard’s settings via the ‘Manage’ tab to include out of office legislators in the scorecard.
Some legislators are missing after the above items are resolved.
Please contact us. Include your website url, a WordPress administrator login, and the names of the missing legislators.
Can I edit the Bill Names in my scorecard?
Yes! You can do that within BillTrack50 and it will sync into our scorecard software within a max of 30 mins. Watch this video (starting at 5:13) to learn how.
Can I weight votes for a bill?
Yes. That’s done in your BillTrack50 account. Watch this video (starting at 5:43mins) to learn how.
Can I score Sponsorship of a bill?
Yes! That’s also done in your BillTrack50 account. Watch this video (starting at 5:43mins) to learn how Bill Rating is separate from Sponsor Rating.
Can I weight Sponsorship of a bill?
Yes! That’s also done in your BillTrack50 account. You would just set the Sponsor Rating higher or lower than your other bill’s Sponsor Ratings. Watch this video (starting at 5:43mins) for an example.
Can I write my own Comment for each bill?
Yes! You will write Comments in your BillTrack50 account under the Bill in your Scorecard. Watch this video (starting at 6:29mins) to see how.
To add a link within your Bill Comment, like in the ACLU Pennsylvania scorecard, log into BillTrack50. Under Scorecard > Legislator (tab) > Edit bill > Reference URL add a link to the page about that bill. In the URL Text field, you’d add what you want the link text to show up as on the scorecard.
Can I score votes and add Comments on specific Amendments?
Feature is in development: We are working on adding this feature to our scorecard in 2021. To prepare for this new feature launch, you can set up the data in BillTrack50 now.
Watch this video to learn how to set this up properly.
Organizations who use our scorecard report that legislators regularly check it and communication with them on core issues. Our scorecards have been featured in the news, podcasts, and Ballotpedia. Please contact us to learn more about how we are helping organizations get the attention of legislators.