An effective way to contact your legislator with your opinion is by telephone. The advantage of making a phone call is that you can quickly provide the Congressperson's office with all of the information you would have provided in a letter, and you will still often receive a written reply from the Congressperson's office. The disadvantage is that notes taken by a staff person on your opinion expressed via telephone will not be as clearly expressed as your opinions as stated in a letter.
Telephone calls are an especially effective way to contact legislators when urgency is needed; faxes and emails are the best ways to quickly attempt to persuade your legislator. Be certain to telephone or fax the legislator's Washington, D.C., office, which is the office handling legislative issues.
If you do not know the Washington, D.C., telephone or fax numbers of your legislators, phone the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or visit the websites for the Senate and House of Representatives.
A typical call will take less that five minutes.
When calling to express opposition to a bill, an NCTE member timed her phone call at one minute and forty-five seconds. When you call the legislative office, a staff member will take your information and record it on a form.
The following information is typically requested:
1. Your Name
2. Address and telephone number
3. Name and/or number of the legislation or the issue about which you are concerned
4. Your stance on the issue and reasons for supporting that viewpoint.
Here is a sample telephone conversation regarding a piece of legislation:
Staff member: Congresswoman Smith's office, may I help you?
Constituent: Hello. My name is Jane Doe, and I'd like to voice my opposition to Bill # (H.R. XXXX or S.XXXX), the ________________ Act.
Staff member: Could you please spell your name, Ms. Doe?
Constituent: J-A-N-E D-O-E
Staff member: Thank you. Could you please tell me your address and phone number?
Constituent: Any Street, Any Town, USA; 555-555-5555.
Staff member: And you are opposed to ______________ (bill)?
Constituent: Yes. I am a teacher, and I feel that this bill --------- (provide a concise rationale here).
Staff member: Thank you very much for sharing your opinion. I will pass this information along to the Congresswoman.
You will do the same for supporting legislation. It is important that legislators hear from you, their constituent.