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Has anyone ever written to your senator or district representative?
December 24, 2012 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever written to your senator or district representative? How long did it take them to respond?

I wrote an email to one of my state's senators as well as the House rep for my district, asking for inauguration tickets. This was about 2 weeks ago and they haven't responded. Has anyone ever written to your rep or senator and how long did it take for them to get back to you?
posted by instantfail to Law & Government (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I've written to both of my senators and my representative. One senator never wrote back (or I just never got the response) but the others did within a couple of months. This was in NC.

It might take longer when you're requesting tickets or something like that.
posted by fromageball at 12:29 PM on December 24, 2012


I didn't write for tickets. I wrote on a bill that I wanted them to support. My Rep in congress never got back to me. I received an automated email from one senator and I actually received a phone call from the other senator's office about two months later.
posted by Hanuman1960 at 12:30 PM on December 24, 2012


I write mine all the time and hear back ranging from within a couple days to never depending on which one, what issues, etc.
posted by leslies at 12:31 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is something that very much depends on the individual politician and how their office runs. I've contacted one of my senators three or four times and never heard anything back. I've called my member of the House, and left a message, and got a letter back three days later. Which, considering I had only left my name and my town, creeped me out a bit until I remembered I'd attended a town hall meeting the previous summer and so I was in her database.

I don't know if the demand for inauguration tickets is quite as crazy crazy intense as it was four years ago, but I imagine they are still a bit of a tough get.
posted by ambrosia at 12:37 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agree with leslies. Sometimes within days, sometimes weeks later.
posted by carlodio at 12:38 PM on December 24, 2012


I went to the first Obama inauguration, and was pretty late in requesting tickets. I e-mailed and then followed up a few days later with a phone call. It seemed like things were pretty disorganized and the phone call was what made something happen.
posted by HotToddy at 1:06 PM on December 24, 2012


I used to write constituent mail responses for a congressman - my turnaround time ranged from a couple days to (shamefully) never, but a couple weeks was pretty typical. I've never been in charge of inauguration ticket distribution and I'm not sure what a typical office's process for that is. You could always try following up with a phone call (although they are likely to be staffed minimally, if at all, until Jan. 2).
posted by naoko at 1:07 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


P.S. ambrosia, they likely had your full address anyway - congressional offices can purchase their district's voter files.
posted by naoko at 1:09 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's been about ten days or never (they think automated suffices, I suppose) when I email.
posted by michaelh at 2:24 PM on December 24, 2012


For straight-up constituent service stuff like this, I'd just call the district / closest office instead of writing or emailing. Their web page may even have a direct number to speak to their constituent service staff.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:45 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I helped a family member write an email to our IL senator to see about a tour of the U.S. Capitol . They called back within a day and the tour was arranged the week after. I did not go, but was told it was a great way to see the Capitol building.


For myself, I have written a number of emails in response to various politicians actions and always receive a reply. Some were boilerplate stuff and a few were personalized. Reply time varied from a couple of days to a few weeks afterwards.
posted by lampshade at 2:51 PM on December 24, 2012


Some good answers on how the process works are in this thread. Instead of writing directly to your representative, you might try contacting their chief of staff.
posted by TedW at 3:16 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you can find someone who's an R who represents you, you might have more luck. The Rs will eventually release their allocated tickets if people don't want them, but the demand tends to be less.
posted by atomicstone at 3:29 PM on December 24, 2012


If you want them to help you with an actual thing - not just tell them your opinion - call them.

Mine have varied from three days (astonishing) to three months (typical.)

I get email replies sometimes, and paper replies sometimes. I haven't been able to figure out why it's one or the other. I should probably do some testing, honestly. It's not strictly based on whether I sent them a letter or an email - letters always get letters back, but sometimes emails get letters back.

For paper replies: My Ohio people and my Congressmen are consistently more responsive than the California people and Senators. It seems to me like Sherrod Brown is pretty much exactly equivalent to whoever it was who represented my CA congressional district in 2003 - Voinovich was faster than the CA congressperson, and DeWine slower, however. I've only written to Portman once, ten days ago, and he hasn't replied yet. I think he (and everyone else) got a lot of emails that day - the only reply I've received from that day's contacts was an Ohio Assembly member, and that reply only arrived on Saturday.

For email replies: Sherrod Brown blows the rest of them out of the water, followed by my other Ohio Assembly member. Basically, if Brown has an email response ready for certain keywords, I get a reply back in like two days. It seems like it's a really advanced system - it knows which side of the issue I happened to take, and always replies with a very moderate but slightly-agreeing-with-you tone. My sister has commented on this, too. It's kind of infuriating, especially when you know from his voting record that he does not agree with you.

In any case, the emails generally come really fast if they come at all. My sense is that on the "actually in DC" level, everything is form letters and intern labor.

It's been almost fourteen years since the last time I asked any of them to actually give me something (tickets for a tour of the building,) and it took about six weeks for those to come back to me - but that was a request I called in; I don't think they had a very good email system if they had one at all.

You get a comparatively extraordinary response when you actually go to the regional offices, BTW. I highly recommend it whenever possible.
posted by SMPA at 4:50 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Day or two for mine. It was about a bill, not time-sensitive. It's possible her response was not canned.
posted by troywestfield at 8:01 AM on December 25, 2012


Oh, boy, for inauguration tickets I would have called, and in November. It's not like those things go wanting. That said, even if you call, expectations should be low, as there's a lot of favoritism in the sense of rewarding donors and volunteers. For example, when the Vice President was campaigning in my county, I knew two of the people who got to go up on stage with him, and they're two of the hardest-working volunteers here (and one is on the county's party committee). That's how it goes.

For constituent service, in the sense of you need a problem solved, again calling is the way to go. You can actually talk to someone who will possibly have an answer for you without involving the Congressman/Senator at all, but at least someone who will actually listen. With e-mail, who knows.

For anything else, such as "I hope you vote this way on that bill", just remember that the volume precludes individual responses in a lot of cases, and the office is basically totting up voter sentiment ('353 for, 472 against'). I wouldn't expect a timely response at all.
posted by dhartung at 12:28 PM on December 25, 2012


We wrote to our Rep asking for tickets at the beginning of December. Figured it was a long shot, but somebody's got to get them, right? Got an email this evening, saying YAY TICKETS!!! So, about a month.
posted by spinturtle at 6:24 PM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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