How to Have a Productive Phone Call With Your Legislator's Office
Telephoning your legislator’s office is a useful way to communicate your opinions, especially on issues where an action is pending, such as a vote. You will not speak to the legislator directly. As with letters, legislative staff track the number of calls they receive on various topics. Just a couple phone calls into an office over a short period of time can bring an issue to the attention of your legislator and have a big impact. Here are some tips to help you make that call:
- Call congressional offices directly or through the switchboard. If you do not have the direct number, you can reach U.S. representatives by calling 202-225-3121, and U.S. senators by calling 202-224-3121. Ask the operator to connect you to the individual office. If you do not know the names of your members of Congress or want the direct line to their office, you can look up your members here:
- Ask to speak to the aide who handles the issue about which you are calling. Your call will be more influential if you speak to the correct aide. However, Congressional aides are very busy and this is not always possible. If you cannot speak directly with the aide, leave a message with the receptionist stating your views.
- Let them know that you are a constituent. Elected officials are most interested in your opinions if you are their constituent, so be sure to say the city and state you are from.
- Know your facts. Be sure you have the basic information about your topic in front of you when you call. You should be able to specifically describe the topic about which you are calling and state your opinion on what your legislator should do.
- Note your expertise. If you have professional experience on the issue on which you are calling, be sure to mention it. It will help to establish your credibility on the issue and may event prompt the aide to ask you for some guidance on the issue.
- Be brief. Aides receive a high volume of phone calls every day, so keep your call short.
- Be timely. Timeliness is especially important when you are phoning. If the vote on your issue is imminent, the aide is much more likely to pay attention to what you say.
- Consider calling the local office. Calling the office in your district or state, rather than the Washington office, can sometimes be very effective. If you are calling about a vote or other timely issues, always call the Washington office. But, if you are calling generally about an issue that affects your district or community, calling the local office can be a good way to make them aware of an issue.