Contacting your elected officials can often be intimidating or even discouraging if you think you won’t get a response. I work in the office of an elected official and one of the things I hear the most is “wow, I didn’t expect a call back.” My job is literally helping constituents with any problems they might have, listening to their opinions, and sometimes having my boss call them directly. My boss is incredible and very hands on within his community and when there is a problem, he will normally talk to the constituent himself. This isn’t true for everyone because some elected officials truly don’t have the time (i.e. politicians on a national level).

So to help people who are contacting your elected officials, I’m going to give you some tips on getting a response.

The do’s

  • DO leave your name, number, and a brief synopsis of what you need help with when leaving a voicemail. Don’t say “I have a problem, please call back.” We call people based on priority a lot of time. Giving us a specific problem can help us gauge where you should be on that list.

  • DO spell out your name if it’s difficult when you leave a voicemail. This helps us pronounce your name or their name properly. Sometimes it’s “I sent you this email” but if I can’t spell your name, I won’t be able to find your emails.

  • DO leave a call back number. Sometimes we come into the office with a ton of calls so scrolling back to find your number wouldn’t be plausible. I’ve once had a constituent call and say “I would like to talk to you. I see how things are going and I’m not happy about it.” But they didn’t leave a name, so I can’t see if I have ever dealt with this person which would give me their number. They didn’t leave their number so I could call them back.

  • DO speak clearly and enunciate. We are used to accents of all kinds calling and the accent is never the problem. It’s the grumbling and mumbling where we can’t decipher what you’re saying. Sometimes, we have to just guess which isn’t good when we can’t understand your number.

  • DO leave us contact information like cell phone number in case we need to call you or if you expect a call back.

  • DO be as detailed as possible. This way, when we are working with the liaisons for the departments who can help you, we aren’t having to constantly call you and ask for more clarification.

The don’ts

  • DON’T Use Facebook comments as way to contact our office. My job is not to monitor his social media and respond on that social media platform. Always reach out to us through our phone, email, or letter.

  • DON’T mail us something then call and ask if we got it a day after you mailed it. It’s called snail mail for a reason.

  • DON’T contact the DC offices of your Representative or Senators because your chances of getting a response with be lower. Contact the district offices of those in Washington and the numbers for those offices can be found online.

  • DON’T get upset if there isn’t an immediate response. We get a lot of emails and calls a day and sometimes, they can slip through the cracks on a busy day. Sometimes we are in session and we are busy in committee meetings or fielding calls from tons of people during work hours that we sometimes don’t get to the call log or through the emails of constituents until the end of the day.

  • DON’T be afraid to call and send us emails. This is actually really effective and you’re more likely to hear from our office. Following up is never a bad idea. Give us more than a day or two but other than that, PLEASE call us if you think we missed your call or email. You’d be surprised by how many emails don’t get to us or calls that are erased on accident.

Contacting your elected officials office shouldn’t be hard and it shouldn’t take weeks to get back to you. These steps will help make sure that the person you’re reaching out to has the best way of contacting you back, or handing your issue off to the right people. Your patience is always appreciated. Many of us love a good natured conversation, even when someone isn’t happy with our boss.

Please contact the offices of your elected officials. Your voice does matter.

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
Follow Caroline on Twitter!