Calling Elected Officials

A telephone call can be an effective method of influencing lawmakers, particularly if placed shortly after written communication. Congressional offices often pay close attention to these calls as a measure of voters' sentiment. An outpouring of calls can sometimes change the vote of a legislator, but even a small number of calls can make a difference.

When you call, you will most likely be connected with a staff assistant who will report your concern to the legislator. Ask to speak to the aide who handles the issue to which you wish to comment.

After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as: "Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/oppose (S___/HR____)." Write a brief script for yourself. Note key points and phrases before you call. You will want to state the reasons you oppose/support a piece of legislation. Ask for your senator's or representative's position on the bill. You may also request a written response to your call. Follow up and thank the lawmaker for considering your suggestion and mail written thank-you notes as appropriate.

Most senators and representatives maintain one or more offices in the state or congressional district they represent. You can find the phone number in the U.S. government section of the telephone directory or by calling information. If you wish to call the Washington, DC, office, you can reach your senator or representative through the Capitol switchboard. Simply dial 202-224-3121, and ask for your representative or senator's office.