How To Contact Your Elected Officials Quickly

  1. Donald Trump has been president for 18 days.
  2. Americans, as a whole, have never been more engaged with their government in recent history.

One of those statements probably gives you hope. The other is likely to light the proverbial fire under your bum.

I’m here to help with the latter, with a quick primer on contacting your elected officials.

Even though it’s been 15 years since I answered then-congressman Inslee’s phones, I still remember the conversations I had with constituents – the good and the not-so-good ones.

Be the good constituents. Here’s how.

What do I say?

Keep it short and specific. You will need to confirm that you are a constituent, what specifically you are calling about, and log your opinion about it.

I keep this script saved in a Google Keep note, and edit it based why I’m calling:

CLICK to download this script

When you do speak with someone, be nice. In all likelihood, you’re speaking to an intern or junior staffer who’s fielding calls all day. Ask them their name, and how they’re doing before you jump into your statement. Jot down their name, since you may speak to them again.

And please, BE KIND.

How do I get in touch with my elected officials?

First, find out who your elected officials are. Just plug in your address in this website, and it’ll tell you who your representatives are on the state and federal level.

Next, save them as contacts in your smartphone – phone and fax numbers. Do it now. I’ll wait.

Calls are the most efficient method – but you’ve probably heard that, and maybe experienced the busy signals yourself. I suggest calling their district offices instead, or calling the D.C office first thing in the morning (I like to get in my calls at 7:59 a.m with coffee in hand).

Letters are equally effective, but require a little more effort. I’ve been using this website to quickly send a letter to my representatives for $1.52 each (if I’m stretched for time and sending it on the go).

Another easy way to contact your reps is by fax. You can use the HelloFax app in conjunction with Google Docs, or the iFax app on your iPhone. Keep your note to a single page, and be sure to include your mailing address in the note so the office confirms you as a constituent.

Bear in mind that faxes often get sent to an e-mail account that’s checked occasionally, so your communication may not be logged in time if you’re reaching out about a timely vote.

CLICK to download this script

But what about e-mails, tweets?

As easy as an e-mail or social media is to send out, it doesn’t have the same weight as the calls, faxes, and letters (which your reps’ offices are diligent about counting). They’ll use these numbers in speeches from the floor, and will quote directly from faxes and letters.

Put in the extra effort to call or write. It matters.

How often do I do it?

I’ll be honest – I’m averaging 1 communication every two days, because there have been a number of actions that I feel strongly about (Planned Parenthood defunding, the ACA, Betsy DeVos). I try to alternate how I communicate (call, letter, or fax), and will rotate my calls among the district offices for my senators. And even though my congressman and senators are aligned with my vote, I still think it’s important to log my view.

Because at the end of the day, they work for us. And giving them feedback is basically giving them a performance review.

Be bold. Be brave. Be engaged.

And start dialing and writing.

Have you contacted any of your representatives since the election? I’d love to know what issue drove you to reach out. COMMENT below and let me know!

P.S – if you like more news/activism content, be sure to follow me on Twitter and sign up for my #readwithhitha newsletter. That’s where I’m my unabashed, nerdy, partisan self. If that’s your thing, I look forward to connecting with you there!

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  • Jamie

    Thank you, this is super helpful! I contacted my senators for the first time (which at 33 is shameful to admit) about the Devos and Tillerson nominations. I got over myself and finally made the calls and it really wasn’t so bad! having the script is really helpful. And as much as I would like to think my angry tweeting is doing something… I know I need to get off my butt and call/write. thanks!

    • hithaonthego

      Late is better than never, and welcome to the club!

  • Alex

    Thanks so much for posting this! I worked in DC for a different WA reprentative more recently, 2010-2013. I would highly recommend email via the member of Congress’ website form instead of fax. In my old office, our faxes came in as scanned documents to a site our staff assistant had to log into. She didn’t get notified if there was a new fax, either. Emails, on the other hand, come in quickly and easily, allowing a faster response.

    • hithaonthego

      Oh great tip! Thanks for the insight.

  • If you have any advice for those of who with representatives who will never listen, I’m all ears. One of our senators even released a statement acknowledging the high volume of calls against DeVos and said he was voting her in anyway. I mean, come on. When Oklahomans disagree with what Republicans are doing you know it’s really bad.

    • hithaonthego

      Oy. I feel you. Showing up is what matters – and not just to vote. Your reps and senators are obligated to have town halls in their districts – and they do. Gather a group of friends and show up to them. Each of you should prepare a question and have 1 must-ask that someone does ask (in case the Q&A time is cut short).
      You should also keep track of their votes for issues that matter the most to you (Countable is a great app for that). Keep calling. Keep writing.
      And show up in the midterms, en masse, to vote them out. If they’re not representing the will of their state, then they have to go. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but WE are their bosses. This is what the Republicans did a great job of during the past 8 years. They went local and won a lot of state legislatures and governorships because they got their people to show up.
      This is a marathon, not a sprint. And we’re still in the first mile.

  • Jessie Buckmaster

    All of this. I’m still working on balancing my outrage with self-care…I’m also loving the Countable app (h/t Victoria McGinley) – helps me keep track of what’s being voted on. Check out Harness, started by America Ferrera, a couple of my friends are on event staff!

    • hithaonthego

      Countable is great! Glad you’re enjoying it. Harness looks amazing – I hadn’t heard about it, but love their mission and what they’re all about!

  • Lia

    Another great website is this:
    Gives you a nice script for a couple of key issues and gives all the numbers to the representatives!

    • hithaonthego

      This is great! Thanks Lia!

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