New electronic technologies provide legislators with a raft of new tools that can deepen and enrich their connection with constituents. But how widespread is their use? Baker Institute fellow in political science Mark P. Jones and Jorge Francisco Aguirre Sala of Mexico's University of Monterrey set out to find the answer by surveying the use of Facebook, Twitter, websites and email by legislators in Nuevo León, Mexico, and the Texas House of Representatives.

The results of the study are in "The Use of Electronic Technology and Legislative Representation in the Mexican and U.S. States," a paper prepared for the Puentes Consortium -- a group of five universities, including Rice, in the United States and Mexico that researches issues that affect both countries.

Consortium members met at the Baker Institute on April 25-26, 2012, to discuss their latest studies, including new approaches to the production of safe drinking water in rural colonias and media coverage of border violence. 

Jones and Aguirre Sala"s research on electronic technology showed, among other findings, that legislators use Facebook and Twitter much more often in Texas than in Nuevo León; analysis focused exclusively on Nuevo León underscored the difficulty faced by constituents who wish to email their representatives; and within the Texas Republican House delegation, the most moderate Republicans utilized Facebook and Twitter at a substantially lower rate than their more conservative copartisans.

The Puentes Consortium aims to strengthen the alliance between Mexico and the United States by drawing on the perspectives of both countries. Participating institutions include Mexico"s Monterrey Tec, University of Monterrey and University of the Americas in Puebla; and in the United States, the University of Arizona and Rice University.