Calling Senators but can't get through
January 24, 2017 7:04 AM   Subscribe

I've started calling my Senators daily to tell them about the issues that matter to me. However, I cannot get through to a person and cannot leave a message as the mailbox is full. I have a few questions about how to proceed:

1. Is there a certain time of day that I will have a better chance in getting through?

2. I have used the contact page on their websites to send a message. Is this effective?

3. I saw that faxing is considered as good as calling, however, I cannot find fax numbers for them. Does anyone know where I can find fax numbers for my representatives?

4. Is there another way I can make my opinions heard?
posted by newsomz to Law & Government (16 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I clicked through various states and various senators on this page and nearly every Senator I clicked had a fax number listed. I've had better success calling local offices than DC offices, but I think the rumors that Congress is turning off their voicemail are true.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:13 AM on January 24, 2017 [6 favorites]

I've had luck calling the offices in other parts of my state. If you go to your senator's webpage (the URL should be at the very bottom will be a map of your state. Mouse over it to bring up the contact info for the office in that region.

Generally I just run through all of the numbers until I get one where someone picks up.
posted by mcduff at 7:16 AM on January 24, 2017

Agree with calling district offices. It's much easier to get through and actually talk to someone. If you can let us know who your reps are, I can take a look for fax numbers, but the general thing you want to be looking for is a page that lists out contact information for every district office and that should include fax numbers as well. Another thing I have done is to save the number in my phone, and just keep re-dialing until I get through -- even with using a district office rather than the D.C. office, I still had to give it maybe 5-6 tries with my Senator to get through, but eventually I did.

Other ideas to have your voice heard:
--Subscribe to the email list for your representatives, and see when they are doing local town halls or any other events in your area. Show up with your questions!
--Send snail mail or postcards. I recommend sending to district offices because physical mail to DC is often very delayed since it has to go through an irradiation process due to the anthrax scares from several years back. So, your letter might not get there until after the vote if you send to DC.
--Show up at your representative's office. There's a big effort to do this on Tuesdays around noon -- obviously this may not work with everyone's work schedule (or be practical if you live far from a district office!) but if you happen to be close and have a flexible lunch schedule, it can be a good option. You can sign up here if this is of interest to you for more details.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:26 AM on January 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

Snail mail is the next best option. Handwritten if possible so it doesn't look like a form letter. Sent to their district office. Make sure to include your postal address on both the envelope & in the letter. You can ask for a response though will most likely just get a form letter back.
posted by wwax at 7:51 AM on January 24, 2017

One thing to note about snail mail is that it takes a long time for it to get through the security screening process. If you are writing about something that is time-sensitive (i.e. an upcoming vote), smail mail might not work.
posted by mcduff at 7:57 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fax numbers are hard to find but I eventually managed to search out numbers for all of my reps. You sometimes have to really dig on their website - or, perhaps if you can get through by phone once, you can ask for a fax number? Or hell, MeFiMail me who your Senators are, I will put my nosiness to good use and try to find fax numbers for you.
posted by Stacey at 7:58 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

After more than fifteen years of not doing so (I think the last time I did this was for an assignment in high school), since November I've been writing ink-paper-envelope-stamp letters to my elected officials again. I ask for a written response to them, and have gotten a few so far.

A few reasons for this: I have a lot more education, experience, and credentials than I did in high school, and talking to a phone bank staffer doesn't cut it. I'm not usually looking to just be counted on some tally spreadsheet--I have policy questions and suggestions and citations. Obviously that's not the case with comments like "WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THESE NOMINATIONS?!" but I like to work in those comments with others. It feels efficient, and it leaves me with a paper trail to consult each time I write.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:13 AM on January 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the suggestion to call the district office. I wasn't sure if that would carry any weight or not! I was able to get through at the district level.
posted by newsomz at 8:34 AM on January 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

The usual let the buyer beware, but I've seen a couple posts going around saying that Bernie Sanders office is requesting that people reach out to report to them when this happens, since it's possible it's not an accident. Anyone know if this is valid?
posted by jacy at 9:32 AM on January 24, 2017

People in the district office record your issue just the same way as DC people would, whether you call, fax, e-mail, or send a letter. They're even better set up for it, too; DC people have a number of other responsibilities, while the local office concentrates on working with constituents.
posted by flimflam at 10:14 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I assumed it wasn't an accident. I have literally never been able to get through to Paul Ryan's office, no matter what time of day I call. I even called intending to leave a message at, like, midnight and all of his voicemails were full. Asshole.
posted by Aquifer at 11:31 AM on January 24, 2017

This is an answer to a slightly different question, but I'm assuming someone here might know: is calling the district or state offices of the relevant party also considered effective? You could bring up both what you expect from any local incumbent who belongs to the party, and what you'll be looking for in their future candidates/the primaries.
posted by trig at 1:04 PM on January 24, 2017

A friend who used to work on the Hill (for a Senator and then a house committee) reminded us on fb that snail mail will take AGES. She estimated postcards being sent now won't make it through til about March.
posted by kitten magic at 1:13 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was told yesterday that everything at the district offices was talked and gathered and sent to Washington and the end of each day.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 3:06 PM on January 24, 2017

I have had good luck emailing my reps. I have found that when they disagree with me that I get a letter (snail mail) back. So I feel i get to them.
posted by myrlage at 5:28 PM on January 24, 2017

Have you seen the Indivisible Guide?
posted by oceano at 10:54 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

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