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Phoning is the least effective way to get a message across to your legislators. Letters or face-to-face meetings have much more impact. You will almost never be able to reach your legislator directly, and may have to leave several messages even to get a response from a staff member.
There is really only one situation in which calling is recommended: If there is no time for a letter - often, you will only have one day's notice of a hearing or vote. In this case, you have to call.
Things to remember when calling your legislator:
- Write down the key points you want to make before you call. Have your information organized and be prepared to keep it brief.
- Call your legislator's office directly.
- If the official isn't available, ask to speak to the official's assistant. They will be able to get your message and ideas to your legislator. Make sure to get their name and thank them for their time.
- Introduce yourself, state your position and the name of your organization if applicable.
- Keep the conversation to the point.
- Make sure to leave your name, address and telephone number so someone can call you back with the official's position on the issue.
- Thank the official/assistant for their time.
- If you have the time, after the phone call, follow up with a letter restating your points and thanking the person for their time.