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How to Contact Your Legislators and
Tips on What to Say
What's the Most Effective Way to Contact Your Legislator?
Contacting Policymakers is vital for ICM members. Children can't vote, so we are their voices.
On many issues, your legislators and other officials hear very little feedback from their constituents. Being contacted by even a few voters is often enough to mold or shift a policymaker's stance on an issue.
Should You Write, Call or E-Mail?
The experts say:
Most effective is to handwrite a short personal letter.
Next best thing is a word-prosessed short personal letter.
Phone calls rank next. Talking with the legislator or a staff person is best, but leaving your opinion with the reception staffers is good too.
After letters and phone calls, comes a personal letter sent by fax.
Then e-mail. . . last on the list, but still effective.
In all cases, it's most effective if the legislator is hearing from a constituent. Of course, the most effective contact is an eyeball-to-eyeball personal visit with the legislator or a staffer. It's easier to schedule one than you might imagine because legislators really want to know the people in their district . . . they want to know their voters.
But rest assured ANY . . . ANY effort to contact a legislator about an issue carries weight because they hear from so few of us. Communicate any way your time and situation require, but remember, to be an effective voice for children, you have to pull out the paper, pick up the phone, or go online.
We hope you'll accept the challenge to pick up your pen and WRITE for the welfare of our kids.
“It Only Takes 45 Minutes” – Make this Your Advocacy Strategy!
We often wonder if we can make a difference. According to State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver, citizen voices (contrasted to lobbyist voices) are POWERFUL! She says it only takes 45 minutes to make a lasting impression on your legislator and begin a working relationship with your legislators. Read her strategy (below) and resolve to begin today to make a difference for children.
“Ninety-five percent of the people who contact me are lobbyists,” says State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver. “This might lead you to believe that the situation is hopeless. Quite to the contrary! The other 5%, the citizen voices, are powerful! As a legislator, I know that it is very important for voters to let our legislators know about our concerns.”
Representative Oliver says it only takes 45 minutes to make a lasting impression on your legislator and begin that working relationship.
This is how it works...
Before the General Assembly session, write your legislators. Let them know who you are, let them know your interests and indicate you will be in contact during the session (15 minutes). · During the session, stay in touch with your legislators. Email them or call. Send your message advocating for issues of concern to you (15 minutes). · After the session, debrief with you legislators sharing your assessment of the session and your expectations for the next session (15 minutes).
The Interfaith Children’s Movement provides assistance in making legislative contacts before, during and after the annual legislative sessions.
Let’s try this and see if it works: Add your legislators to your email address book.
That way, they are only one click away when you need to tell them your opinion. Don’t know who they are or their contact info? Go to: http://www.legis.state.ga.us/ Don’t know who they are? Find out at: http://www.votesmart.org.
Build a network. Pass along your ICM electronic newsletters to “your personal list”….members of your faith community, friends, co-workers, family. Enroll them in advocating at the policy level for children. Please forward ICM emails to your own network.
MAIL OR WRITE YOUR LEGISLATORS IN SUPPORT OF AN ISSUE
In your communication:
a. Clearly identify yourself.
Make sure you include your postal mailing address and phone number (even if you e-mail) to show that you are in the legislator’s district and enable him/her to respond to you by postal mail, if he/she so desires.
b. Personalize your relationship.
Have you ever voted for this elected official? Have you ever contributed time or money to the person’s campaign? Are you familiar with the person through any business or personal relationship? If so, mention this.
The closer the legislator feels to you, the more powerful your argument is likely to be.
c. Briefly explain your position.
d. Thank the legislator for working in behalf of you and your fellow citizens.