Contacting reps has never been easier
Published 9:37 am Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Technology can be a powerful thing when used to improve quality of life, particularly when it comes to information access and the essential resources needed to participate in the political process. In an age where an app or bot can do just about anything you’d need or want, staying informed about important issues and contacting your representatives has never been easier.
Countable (iPhone/Android app)
When I first downloaded Countable back in 2014, it was already an impressive app, offering an effortless way to stay informed about what my lawmakers were doing (and voting for) starting from the local level. These days, the app is almost a one-stop-shop for political participation and non-partisan information. Plus, the app allows you to use your phone or tablet to record video messages for your elected representatives. (There’s one way to cut through all the faxes.)
Resistbot (text “resist” to 504-09)
A free service that launched just this year, Resistbot allows you to write to your senators and representatives via text message, which is formatted into formal letters and faxed (!!) to their offices. It really is that simple, though a fill-in-the-blank form letter service it isn’t. You have to (and frankly, should) write your thoughts in your words. Resistbot just saves you a little time and hassle by doing the rest, even texting you a photo proof of the letter before faxing it so you know exactly what you’re sending. Though the service is transparent about its primary mission to serve “liberals and conservatives in opposition to the Trump administration,” it delivers every message users send in, regardless of political affiliation.
Call to Action (usecalltoaction.com)
If you want a more direct (and potentially more efficient) way to get in touch, Call to Action helps you easily contact the district offices of your Congressional representatives. Type in your zip code, call the number provided and let your voice be heard. They even offer a basic script if you need it: Hi, my name is [your name], and I’m a constituent from [your town/city]. I’m calling because [express your opinion on an issue here]. Please tell [rep name] to [support/oppose/speak out against] [your issue]. Thank you for your time. Doesn’t get much easier than that.
It’s important to keep in mind while these services make it easier to contact your reps, they don’t necessarily make it easier for each office to process and respond to each message, no matter how it gets to them. For one thing, members of Congress are limited to hiring 18 staffers each. Add in outdated communications policies and sub-par technological infrastructure, and it’s easy to see why Congressional staffers could struggle to make good use of your thoughtful opinions while juggling other responsibilities.
Instead of letting it discourage us from contacting our representatives, look at this way: There’s no better way to show them they should push for upgraded resources than by being part of the problem.
After all, it’s a good problem to have. And one that demands a solution.
Alex McDaniel is editor of the Oxford Eagle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.