Compassion & Choices Arizona
Arizona

How to Communicate with Legislators

Email is the least effective method because legislators are inundated with it and will simply ignore most of it (you would too!). If you do use email, send to your own legislator and indicate in the subject line what district you live in. Be brief and to the point. If you send an email to several or even all 90 legislators, be sure to mail them separately or use the BCC (blind carbon copy) field so it appears that you are emailing only one legislator. If there are 90 legislators in the "To" field, your message will surely be ignored.

Telephone is the second least effective means. Again, the reason is that legislators are just too busy. If you do call, leave a message with your name and address (so they know you are in their district), and a very brief message (for example, that you would like them to vote for or against your item of interest). You may also use the telephone, of course, to request a face-to-face meeting (see below).

A letter or fax is the next most effective way to communicate with legislators. There is no difference in effectiveness between a letter or fax, so if time is short use a fax. Always say "I am a registered voter in your district" or the equivalent. Never use a form letter or photocopy. Handwritten letters are just as good if not better than typewritten ones. As in any communication, it is best to be brief and very much to the point. Keep your letter to one page at the very most. The very best letters are personalized — how YOU are affected by whatever issue you are writing about.

Face to face communication is the most effective. You can request a personal meeting with your own legislators to express your concerns, and you may call to make an appointment. You can also do this in small groups. If getting to Phoenix is difficult you can request a meeting when your legislator is back in your district (most are home on Fridays or weekends, but members of the Appropriations Committee also work in Phoenix on Fridays). There is also an office in Tucson (400 West Congress) where meetings can be arranged with legislators from Southern Arizona. When meeting a legislator, especially in Phoenix, you should be very patient. They are very busy (like doctors) and often overbook their appointments. They can also be called away suddenly to unscheduled business on the floor. Mondays are usually the least hectic days for legislators.

Even more effective than requesting a face to face meeting is to develop a relationship with your legislator, if possible, so you know something about them as a person and they also know you as a person. If you have this type of relationship, they are much more willing to give you an audience and consideration for things you might have to say. This is basic human relationship building.