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The Planet

The Phone Call

The Planet, October 1995, Volume 2, number 7

A bill you oppose is up for a vote less than 24 hours and you want to tell your legislator to "vote no." Simply call your legislator's office and tell a staff member exactly that. Up until voting time, congressional offices pay close attention to what their constituents are saying. Here are some tips for a quick call to your congressperson:

  1. Call your senator or representative: Unfortunately, a congressperson from another district won't pay much attention--if any--to your call. But your representatives will. If you don't know who your representatives are, consult the government pages of your phone book.
  2. Get the phone number: Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your congressperson's of fine. For state legislators, consult the state and government pages of your local phone book.
  3. Make the call: You won't speak to your legislator--unless you're a personal friend--but you will speak to a staff member who will rally the call, note your position and sometimes relay messages to the congressperson on a daily basis. If the issue is "hot" they'll report throughout the day.
  4. Make your case: Don't be intimidated! The staffer won't ask you detailed questions about the issue. You'll do the talking. Simply say you want your congressperson to know your views on the issue--that you oppose or support it-- and add which way you'd like your congressperson to vote.
  5. Ask for a response: Ask for a reply from your congressperson on the issue. Although you may only receive a form letter on that specific issue, it still guarantees that your message was recorded.

    Be sure to thank the staffer before saying goodbye.

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