Making Contact
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Making Contact With Your Elected Officials

How Do I Determine Who My U.S. Congress Member Is?

Click here to access the Virtual Congress database. If you cannot determine your elected official on this web site, call your County Board of Elections. Give them your street address and they can tell you your Ward, Precinct, Congressional District, State Senate District and State House District. To access a directory of Ohio’s Boards of Election, click here.

How Do I Contact My U.S. Congress Member?

Use the Legislative Directory on this web site to find your representatives' phone numbers and addresses make direct contact with your legislator.

Mail To Congressman
Representative _______________
District # _____
Building, Room # (see Legislative Directory)
Washington DC 20515
Mail To Senators
Senator _________________
Senator for the State of Ohio
Building, Room # (see Legislative Directory)
Washington DC 20515


How Can I Be Most Effective With An Elected Official?

  • KNOW WHO YOU ARE COMMUNICATING WITH. In phone calls, meetings with and letters to your actual Representative, make sure they know you are their voting constituent. If you communicate with a legislator that isn’t elected by you, thank them for taking the time to consider your issue and explain that it is so important that you felt it necessary to make contact with legislators in addition to your own. Every vote cast ultimately affects you.
  • USE THE APPROPRIATE TITLE AND THEIR LAST NAME WHEN ADDRESSING  THEM. For example: Senator Smith or Representative Doe.
  • BE ORGANIZED & CONSIDERATE OF THE VALUE OF THEIR TIME. If you have a personal meeting with a legislator, be appreciative of the amount of time the legislator has offered to spend with you. While in Washington, legislators are required to be out of their offices much of the time. They cannot always control last minute changes to their schedules. In the event that your legislator is unable to keep an appointment, do not refuse to meet with their staff. Tell them of the importance of your issue and your confidence that he or she will share the details of your meeting with the legislator. Stick with one topic while you are meeting with a legislator. If you are in a group, choose one person to be the leader. That leader should introduce everyone in the group, explain why you are there and open with why your issue is important to you. Everyone in the group should be prepared to offer a personal account of their stand.
  • IF YOU ARE WRITING A LETTER OR AN E-MAIL TO A LEGISLATOR, keep in mind that they receive more mail than they can possibly review personally. The best way to ensure your letter is considered is to personalize it. Start your correspondence by writing that you are their voting constituent and end it by asking them to share their opinion or voting history on your issue. Keep your letter or e-mail short and to the point. Avoid form letters if at all possible. Handwritten letters are absolutely acceptable.

You have a personal story - tell it!

It is very easy to write a form letter or repeat a prepared speech – Don’t Do It! This is commonly referred to as "Astro-Turf Lobbying" as opposed to "Grass Roots Lobbying." Legislators can tell when a highly organized lobbying firm has prepared people to bombard them with a specific agenda. Explain the effects that their decisions have on you and your family and what you expect from them. You do NOT have to have ALL the answers. If a legislator asks you a factual question and you don’t know how to answer, simply respond "I’m not sure, but I will find out and get back to you."

What to expect from the legislator.

Your members of Congress are elected by you and work with you. They are elected to listen to the concerns of their constituents, speak on their behalf, develop solutions to the problems in this country and act as a liaison between their constituents and federal agencies.

By the time your conversation or written response is complete you should know where they stand on the issue you have discussed. If you are not given a firm "YES" or "NO," ask them to call or write to you with their decision. If you are concerned about their vote on a specific bill ask them or their office to send you their final vote on that bill.

You don’t need to end your contact a victor. You need to end knowing that you have adequately expressed to them your concerns and desire for action. And, of course, after communicating with a legislator you should have the necessary tools to know whether or not you will support them or fight them in their next election.

What Do I Do After Communicating With An Elected Official?

A thank you note is always appropriate. Regardless of their position, it is nice to restate your gratefulness for their support or your hope that they consider your information and the consequences on you before they make a final decision on the issue you have discussed.