On your end, contacting representatives is fairly straightforward: write an email and click send. Once that email is sent, though, what happens?
In a congressional office, your message is viewed by staffers and interns dedicated to sorting constituent correspondence and assigning the proper policy team to a citizen’s concerns. Once the policy team views your message, they’ll determine how best to respond.
The elected official is usually given a weekly report on the issues important to the people of their district or state. This keeps them updated on the needs of their community.
At the state level, the process will vary from state to state. In smaller states like New Hampshire, New Mexico, or Idaho, legislators are paid very little (if at all) and don’t have a staff. They correspond directly with their constituents. When you email or call, it’s likely you’ll receive a personal response from your representative.
In more populous states like California and New York, legislative offices will have a process similar to Congress. Staffers will sort through correspondence and report back to the lawmaker.
Other states are somewhere in between these extremes, with small staffs working to record the opinions of constituents and act on these concerns.
Because offices receive so many messages from constituents, the best strategy for getting your point across is simple: brevity. Be succinct and direct.
We’ve designed our templates with this goal in mind. No matter who opens the email, we want them to see right away the issues we’re advocating for.
The realities of how legislative offices deal with correspondence inform the design of our policy areas and their subtopics. When you and your friends send emails on police demilitarization, regardless of whether you all chose the same issue or not, the lawmaker’s office will see all of your messages advocate for this general policy change. Then, the subtopics allow for everyone to provide a more specific, concrete ask for lawmakers to focus on. By teaming up with your friends and family, you can advocate for a broad array of policies critical to reforming our broken policing system.
You’d be forgiven for being skeptical about the power of emailing your elected officials. With lawmakers typically representing thousands of constituents, it may feel like your voice may be drowned out. We hope we can put that skepticism to rest:
In Pennsylvania, two constituents from suburban Philadelphia wanted to outlaw child marriage in their state. They contacted their state representative, who successfully convinced his colleagues to pass a bill ending the practice in PA. In celebrating this accomplishment, the lawmaker specifically noted the work of the two constituents as being instrumental in drawing attention to the issue. Without their efforts, child marriage might still be on the books in PA today.
This is only one example among countless across America. Our voices have power. We can make a difference if we speak out and advocate for our values.
Together, we can move the debate on police misconduct forward. Let’s Meet the Momentum.