How to Contact Your Elected Officials

Engaging your elected officials is a powerful action step you can take to make sure your voice is heard. Click the links below for some tips and resources on how to contact your federal, state and local elected leaders.

General Tips:

✓ Be concise and courteous when contacting your elected officials at all levels—federal, state and local.

✓ Share personal stories. It’s important to share your or your community’s personal stories related to the issue your contacting your elected official about. Your stories can show the impact of issues in ways just sharing statistic can’t, including how an issue affects real people including their constituents.

✓ Relax! You don’t have to be nervous when communicating with your elected officials. As elected officials, they are public servants who hold their office because you and/or your community elected them. Your elected officials and their staff need to hear from you—their constituents—about issues that matter to you and your community. You don’t have to be a subject matter expert to talk about an issue that matters to you.

Identify Your Federal, State and Local Elected Officials

Identify the federal, state and local elected officials you need to reach.

Federal Elected Officials

U.S. President – Contact the president by filling out the online contact form or by calling the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414 or the comments line at 202-456-1111 during business hours.

U.S. Congress – Everyone in the United States is served by two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative. Click the links below to find your Members of Congress.

State Elected Officials

  • State Governors – Contact your state’s governor or the mayor of the District of Columbia.
  • State Legislators – Find the names and current activities of your state legislators.

Local Elected Officials

Calling Elected Officials

A quick phone call is one of the most effective ways to communicate with your elected officials on issues that matter to you and your community. A well-timed call can be especially influential when combined with calls from your community members and partners on the same issue.

To reach the offices of your two U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred to their offices.

 

Five Tips for Calling Your Elected Officials

1) Introduce yourself. Once connected to your elected official’s office, identify yourself as a constituent to the receptionist and ask to speak with the legislative assistant who handles your issue. For example:

“My name is [your name]. I am from [your city], and I would like to speak with the health legislative assistant about a health care issue that is important to me.”

2) Focus on a single issue and clearly state your ask. When transferred to the health staffer, or if you are transferred to the staffer’s voicemail, reintroduce yourself and state the topic you are calling to discuss. For example:

“My name is [your name]. I am from [your city], and I am calling to urge the Senator/Representative to support the Health Center Program.”

3) Keep it brief. Making two or three key points on why the issue matters to you/your community/the country, and why the elected officials should take action. Have talking points to stay focused on the message you want to deliver. AAPCHO can provide you with talking points when we ask you to communicate with Congress on specific issues. Keep your call brief, no more than three or four minutes.

4) Exchange contact information. Leave your name, email and phone numbe. Don’t forget to note the name of the legislative assistant you spoke to so that you can ask for her/him by name the next time you call or contact her her/him directly if you need to follow up. Thank the staffer.

5) Follow up! Call or write to follow up. Reference your previous call and mention with whom you spoke and the topic to help facilitate a meaningful reply.

Requesting a Meeting

A face-to-face meeting is an effective method of engaging your elected officials. When Congress is in session, it is best to meet your Members of Congress in Washington, D.C. but to save on travel costs, you can also arrange a visit during congressional recesses and weekends when Members of Congress return to their district offices.

Every elected official’s office handles appointments differently. To set up a meeting with an official’s office, call and ask how the office to officially request a meeting. The following websites provide information about how to contact Members’ offices in Washington, D.C. and in their home state districts.

If the elected official is unavailable on the date you are aiming for, request a meeting with a member of her/his staff. Staffers often have a deeper understanding of issues and regularly communicate with their Members of Congress.

Conducting an Office Visit

  1. Call the local office and arrange a time with the local scheduler.
  2. Gather the attendees before the meeting and determine top talking points, stories and speaking roles. Determine who will lead the meeting.
  3. Provide information in a packet that can be left behind for staff to examine in more detail.
  4. Ask for a specific commitment to protecting health centers, Medicaid and other specific programs.
  5. Welcome staff or representative to tour your health center in the coming months.

Conducting a Health Center Visit

  1. Call the local office and arrange a time with the local scheduler.
  2. Gather clinic leadership to determine top talking points, stories, speaking roles, and tour schedule.
  3. As appropriate, prepare clinic and clinic staff.
  4. Connect clinic processes and experiences to policies and legislation so representatives understand impact of their decisions.

Follow-up After the Meeting

  1. Send a note thanking your elected official and briefly restating your issue. Include any follow-up information that was promised.
  2. Provide feedback on your meeting to AAPCHO so we can adjust our policy and advocacy strategies, if needed.

Writing Your Elected Officials

A letter to your elected official can also be an effective way to communicate with them about issues that matter to you. You can write to your elected official using email or postal mail.

An effective letter:

  • Briefly outlines the your issue
  • Explains why it is important to you and your community
  • Requests an action from your elected official

For templates and examples of letters, click here.