Calling State Representatives and Senators: Tips and Suggestions*
- Always call! It is better to call than to write letters.
- In order of priority:
- go to town hall meetings (call local office to verify schedule)
- call local office
- call D.C. office
- write/email local office
- write/email D.C. office
- Have a script ready (see “How to Call Your Congresspeople,” below)
Find your State Rep (by district/ward, examples correlate to Columbia College Chicago campus):
- Danny K. Davis (Representative for 7th Congressional district of Illinois, zip code 60605)
Find your Senators (2/state):
How to Call Your Congresspeople (info collected from former staffers, edited):
- Give your name, city, and zip code, and say “I don’t need a response.” That way, they can quickly confirm you are a constituent, and that they can tally you down without taking the time to input you into a response database.
- PLEASE ONLY CALL YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIVES! Your tally will not be marked down unless you can rattle off a city and zip from the state, or are calling from an in-state area code. I know you really want to give Mitch McConnell a piece of your mind, but your call will be ignored unless you can provide a zip from Kentucky. And don’t try to make this up; staffers can often tell who was lying because of caller ID. Exceptions to this are things like Paul Ryan’s ACA poll.
- State the issue, state your position. “I am opposed to a ban on Muslims entering the US.” “I am in favor of stricter gun control legislation including background checks.” “I am in favor of the Affordable Care Act.” That’s it. That’s all we write down so we can get a tally of who is in favor, who is against. It doesn’t matter WHY you hold that opinion. The more people calling, the less detail they write down. Help them out by being simple and direct.
- Please be nice! The people answering the phones on Capitol Hill already had the hardest job in DC and some of the lowest pay as well, and for a month now their jobs have become absolute murder, with nonstop calls for 9 hours every day. Thank them for their hard work answering the phones, because without them our Senators could not represent us.
“Hi, my name is X, I’m a constituent from Y, zip code 60***, I don’t need a response. I am in favor of/opposed to Z ISSUE and I encourage the Senator to please oppose implementation of any such ban. Thanks for your hard work answering the phones!”
This phrasing makes it easier for the people answering the phones and takes less time and emotion than a long script. I know that you want to say why, but keeping it short and sweet helps the office answer more calls per hour, meaning more people get heard. The bigger the tally, the more powerful our voice.
Pick one issue each day, use this format (I am in favor of _____ or I oppose ______), and call your 2 Senators and 1 Representative on their DC and State Office lines, and you’ll be on your way to being heard.
- Tweeting or writing on Facebook is largely ineffective.
- Writing a letter to the district office (state) is better than sending an email or writing a letter to DC.
- Look for town hall meetings to meet and talk with reps.
- Invite staffers on “field trips” and show them what it’s like in your communities.
*From the handout from our January 2017 meeting, “Calling State Representatives and Senators – Tips and Suggestions”: truth talk_Calling Congresspeople_013117