04 February 2013

Getting Your Voice Heard in Hartford

Be on target!
Don't be the target

Tips on Contacting Politicians

Voting is only part of the legislative process. You need to be in touch with your legislators,
to let them know your opinions on subjects important to you, and know
how to get your point across clearly and calmly.

If you do not know your state representatives you can find who they are
at the Find Your Connecticut Legislator.

NEVER ASSUME that if a politician is from a different political party or has spoken out in public that favors one side of an issue or another, that they will not listen to hear another point of view. That is their responsibility - to hear varied opinions - and you can hold them to hearing you out. But you need to plan strategically.


1) Use plain or personal stationery.
2) Use proper form of address.
3) Write legibly.
4) Keep it short and to the point. Let them know what you expect.
5) Address on issue per communication.
6) Outline essential information: bill number, title and description. If you don't know these items, you can look for them at the Connecticut Legislative Website.
7) Use your own words. Avoid form letters. Describe personal experiences and local impact.
8) Be sure to include your name, address, phone number, or e-mail.


Note: If you cannot speak directly to your legislator or official, do not refuse to speak with a staff person. You may gain useful information and a helpful source for future reference.
1) Be prepared
     • Be brief and to the point
     • Have the key information written down: essential points of your position, bill number, title and description. If you don't know these items, you can look for them at the Connecticut Legislative Website.
     • Try to place call at crucial time for issue, e.g., before a key vote.
     • Use correct form of address, e.g., Senator Smith, not Joe.
2) Present your position briefly
     • Identify yourself and where you live.
     • One issue per call.
     • Be factual and honest.
     • Use your own words.
     • Mention how issue will affect your district or community or organization.
3) Ask for their views
     • Try to find out their position and how they will vote.
     • Keep tone friendly, even if their position does not agree with your own.
4) End the conversation politely
     • Thank the officials.
     • Offer to send information on your issue.

INFORMATION SOURCES: [1] The Connecticut League of Women Voters publishes a number of handy pamphlets on legislative advocacy. The material above came from The Art of Advocacy pamphlet. [2] You can find out handy tips on how to best prepare to testify (in person or in writing) before the Legislature using the Guide for Reaching State Legislators and Testifying at Hearings. [3] For the online savvy, check out the Using the Internet to Make Democracy Work pamphlet. [4] Finally, the Connecticut Legislative Website can provide you names and contact phone numbers to state legislators.

No comments: