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Thread: US: Contacting Your Elected Officials

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    US: Contacting Your Elected Officials

    This is a work in progress; thanks to all of those who've submitted resources, especially Cath and Ari Meermans

    Table of Contents

    Last edited by AW Admin; 02-08-2017 at 07:41 PM.

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    US: Contacting Your Elected Officials

    Finding Your Elected Official and Contact Information

    Last edited by AW Admin; 03-16-2017 at 06:24 AM.

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    Methods of Communicating

    • In terms of effectiveness, right now the preferred methods from best to less effective are: Phone call, Personal letter/postcard via US Mail, and email.
    • Consider a phone call if you have a specific and concise concern. There's some data that suggests currently a phone call is the most efficient and effect communication. See this piece for advice on calling.
    • While email is efficient for both recipient and sender, be aware that the ease of sending off an email is matched by the ease of processing it via a script and sending an automated reply.
    • A carefully crafted personal letter indicates that you take an issue seriously. Moreover, it can be passed directly hand-to-hand.
    • Postcards may have some utility still; I'm not sure that this is as true as it used to be. FAX options are still present for many elected officials.
    • No matter what method you use, be aware that you're dealing with a franticly busy staffer.
    • Don't be dismissive. Just as in publishing, the person who reads slush or processes constituent communications may seem powerless, but has the power to pass your message up the food chain.
    • Be courteous.


    Barney Frank's Suggestions about Effective Communication

    Representative Barney Frank on Here's how to not waste your time pressuring lawmakers

    The article is a two minute read, with specific suggestions on how to effectively make your voice and vote count.

    The key to doing it right is being clear about the goal, which is to persuade the Senator or Representative receiving the communication that how he or she votes on the issue in question will affect how the sender will vote the next time the legislator is on the ballot.
    Lawmakers don’t care about people outside of their district.
    The communication must be individual. It can be an email, physical letter, a phone call or an office visit. It need not be elaborate or eloquent — it is an opinion to be counted, not an essay. But it will not have an impact unless it shows some individual initiative.
    Legislators do not simply vote yes or no on every issue. If enough people in a legislator’s voting constituency express strong opposition to a measure to which that legislator is ideologically or politically committed, it might lead him or her to ask the relevant leadership not to bring the bill up.
    Say "thank you."
    Last edited by AW Admin; 02-08-2017 at 06:42 PM.

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    Making a Phone Call
    • Many of the suggestions about writing apply to phone calls as well.
    • Keep in mind that if you make a phone call, the call will be logged so that the person answering the phone can pass your message on up the food chain.
    • Time will be short; this isn't typically an opportunity for a conversation; rather it's a brief statement about who you are and why you are calling.
    • Keep to a single issue.
    • Consider writing down what you want to say in a short statement.


    Phone Tip: If you're paralyzed while trying to talk on the phone, write down a brief message to read aloud, then call after 5 pm D.C. time (or where ever you are calling) and leave a message.



    5 Calls: Making Your Voice Heard

    The 5calls.org site is a free site that alerts users to 5 calls that they could make. The calls are tied to urgent issues.

    Users can enter a zipcode or state and city for a targeted list of who to call, how, about what, including a suggested "script."

    The political tilt of the site is liberal | Democrat, but there's nothing to stop you from calling and voicing a dissenting opinion.
    Last edited by AW Admin; 02-08-2017 at 06:15 PM.

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    Writing an Elected Official
    • Address your letter to the correct person and use the correct title.
      In general, this means the Representatives or Senators from your state. Occasionally you may have a specific need to communicate with a particular Committee member.
    • Don’t mass mail people. Be selective. Don't use the same letter to multiple people.
    • Be courteous; but do not flatter.
    • Introduce yourself briefly (1 sentence)
    • Identify yourself in either the closing or the From address block, using your full name, address, email and phone number (or at least your name and 1 contact method)
    • Be concise; stick to a single topic.
    • If it’s about a specific bill refer to the bill by name and number.
    • Make your letter short; one page maximum.
    • Be specific about how the issue affects you and others; don’t say “it's bad” say "Public libraries are crucial in that they allow all people access to information. Defunding libraries will hurt low income families and poorly funded school districts lacking school libraries.”
    • Be specific with respect to facts. Cite examples.
    • Be specific about requesting a course of action and exactly what you recommend as a course of action.
    • Don’t use curse words or other discourteous language. Don’t name-call.
    • Do not make demands or threats, not even a demand for a response.
    • Thank the person.


    Templates and Model Letters

    See this page for examples regarding addressing your Senator/Representative and how to format and write a letter.

    How to write your Congress members, including a template.

    http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-conten...officials/main

    Some guidelines about when to write and how to write an elected official.

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