Contacting Your Legislators
Contacting your legislator's office can seem intimidating, but it's important to remember they are there to represent you. That is why it's crucial to make your voice heard, so they know what issues are important to their constituents.
If you call your legislator's office, you will most likely talk to a member of the legislator's staff. It is their job to listen to your thoughts, make a record of it, and relay it to the legislator.
If you ask for your legislator's stance on a particular issue, the staff member will probably give you a brief description. In addition, you will probably receive a letter for the legislator in the mail with a more detailed explanation of his or her position.
Although a phone call is an effective and often fast way to get your message across, the most effective method of contacting your legislator is with an old-fashioned letter. This is because it gives you time to clearly outline your position of the issue, and it gives the legislator's office time to fully respond to you.
Things to Include When Contacting Your Legislator
- Identify yourself as a constituent. Citizens in the legislator's district get special priority when it comes to responding to requests. Give your name and street address.
- Be specific and brief. Make your point clear from the beginning. If you're calling, start by saying "My name is ______; my address is _______. I am calling in support of/opposition to____". Then give your reasoning.
- Be respectful. It's OK to express your opinion, but legislative staff members are much more likely to assist you if you're polite.
- Tell your own personal story about the subject. Research indicates that personal stories from constituents can help sway undecided legislators.
- Nearly every congressional offices uses a program to manage their inbound emails from constituents. Write a message in your own words. Simply using a templated message may result in your emails being diverted to a folder, rather than read.
- As for a written response. This shows your legislator that you're keeping an eye on their actions.