Communicating with legislators or their assistants can feel overwhelming and intimidating if you have never done it before. Here are a few tips that will ensure you get your point across while building a relationship and reputation with your state legislators.
First, you will need to identify your legislators if you have not done so already.
We recommend you use this search to find your legislators. Once you enter your address, make sure you scroll down to see the full list of your legislators. The first two legislators are your US Senators. Next, is your U.S. House of Representatives member. Lastly, you will see your State Senator and State House of Representatives. As a state-wide political action committee, OKHPR will often ask you to contact your state Senator and House Representative. So write these two people down. They are the ones you need to remember!
Another fantastic resource is the ‘Okla 58th’ app. This is maintained by Oklahoma’s Electric Cooperative and is available on the Apple app store and android. This app has all of the contact information for your legislators, district maps, the legislative calendar, and many more helpful resources! We encourage you to download this free app.
Pay attention to the OKHPR action alert. We will always tell you if you need to contact your State Senator, State Representative, or someone else.
Please understand that the legislator’s assistant is the gatekeeper to the legislator. Assistants help to filter through the legislators’ emails, they answer their phones, and they help plan out in-person meetings for the legislator. Speaking with a legislator begins with the legislative assistant. Always be polite and kind to your legislator’s assistant. It is helpful to learn their name (which can be found on the Okla 58th app), and you should make sure they know that you are a constituent of the district.
When making a phone call to the office of a legislator you should always plan to keep your message brief. We recommend using this sample script.
“Hi, my name is _________. I am a constituent of Senator/Representative ___________. I am calling because I wanted to ask that Senator/Representative ____________ vote yes/no on ________. ”
You could also add a small bit of information on why you support or oppose the bill, but keep it short! No more than an additional sentence. Your legislator’s time is precious. The priority is to let your legislator know how their voters feel. Lots of short emails or calls from constituents is the most impactful way to communicate with legislators.
The legislative assistant may ask for your address, they use this information to verify that you are a voter in the district. This is why it is important to be a registered voter!
If you call after office hours you will still have the option to leave a voicemail for the legislator (unless their voicemail is full).
OKHPR recommends following the following steps to write an impactful email to your state legislators.
- In the subject line of your email type “FROM YOUR CONSTITUENT: yes/no on _(bill number)__”
- Keep your email short and sweet. OKHPR often publishes a few talking point examples when releasing an action alert. Feel free to use 1-2 of these points but put the information into your own words. DO not copy and paste the same email as a friend. If legislators see emails that are too similar they assume it is a form email and will toss it out. It is important to take a few moments to make an email more personal so it gets the legislator’s attention. Do not write more than a brief paragraph. Your legislator does not have time to read a thesis paper, and you will not sway their vote using this tactic. When speaking with legislators we want to focus on many small seeds of information in order to build a relationship over time rather than bombarding them with too much information at once. Additionally, personal experiences make more of an impact to your legislator than facts and stats. If a bill has or would affect your family personally, make sure to mention how it would do so.
An email may look something like this.
“Dear Senator/Representative ________
My name is ______. I am a constituent of your district and I am emailing to ask that you vote yes/no on __(bill number)__. This issue is important to me because of __________________ ___________________________________________________________________.
Thank you so much for your time.
- Always end your email with your name and full address. The legislative assistant will use this information to verify that you are a registered voter within the district. This is why it is important to be a registered voter!
If you have not heard back from your legislator and would like to speak with them about an issue, it is a good idea to call or email another time. Continue to keep your contact brief, but this time say something like “I have called/emailed on _____ and would like to hear back from you on this issue. Can I schedule a time to speak with you about this on the phone or in-person?” An in-person meeting may be at the State Capitol or somewhere in the district.
If you meet with your legislator in person you should keep the tips we have written above in mind. Always stay kind and brief. Small nuggets of information will be more impactful to your legislator rather than droning on about a subject. Speaking with legislators is all about building a good relationship over time! Learn about your legislator and what topics he or she is passionate about. You can use this information to build the conversation. If you need any assistance, you can ask your senate district captain if they can be present at the meeting. If you are not connected with your senate district captain yet, you can find their contact information here.