US Activism and Engagement Resources

Your voice and your vote do matter, and they do count. Use your voice (or your words) to let your legislators who work for you what you want.

A two minute phone call can make a difference.

Finding Your Elected Official and Contact Information

Methods of Communicating

  • Consider a phone call if you have a specific and concise concern. In terms of effectiveness, preferred methods from best to less effective are: Phone call, Personal letter/postcard via US Mail, and email.
  • 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.
  • Petitions don’t really do much to persuade legislators directly; but they can attract press attention. A phone call can directly influence your legislators’ votes.
  • 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. Be courteous. Always say thank you.

Making a Phone Call

  • Keep to a single issue.
  • Be specific and brief; staffers will make a note and move to the next call which will be waiting.
  • Include your name and address. That’s how they know you can vote for them.
  • Think about what you want to say *before* you call.
  • Write it down as a very short list of bullet points.
  • Thank them.

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) and leave a message. This assumes that the “mail box” for messages isn’t full, and often, in the current climate, it’s full. Try again later!

5Calls.org

  • 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.

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.

 

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