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How to contact your legislators

February 7th, 2022
By Michael Coleman

You know your community best, and directly engaging with your elected officials at the SC Statehouse is the most effective way to ensure your concerns on conservation, energy, and other issues in your area are heard. Whether it’s urging their support for various causes or asking them to oppose projects that put the community or environment at risk, your legislators are there to listen. It’s literally their job!

We all engage in so many daily tasks that it can feel burdensome to add another item to the to-do list. Luckily, there are a variety of efficient ways for constituents to interact with their legislators.

How to Contact Your Legislator

  1. Email: The most efficient way to direct your concerns to your legislators is via email. The SC Legislature’s website allows you to send messages that will be recorded and forwarded to the elected official’s office. Not sure who represents you? Click here to find your SC legislators.
     
  2. Call: Although you may not speak directly with your elected official, a member of his or her staff will document your concerns and pass them along. At the state level, business and personal phone numbers can be found on individual legislators’ information pages on the Legislature website. Click here to find your SC legislators.
     
  3. Write a Letter: Add a personal touch to the concerns you want to convey by writing and mailing a letter. Bonus: Letters provide a written record of constituents’ concerns for the legislator’s office. Like phone numbers, mailing addresses can be found on individual legislators’ information pages on the State Legislature website. Click here to find your SC legislators.

A note about online action centers:
Online action centers and webforms are a quick and easy way to show your support or concern for a local ordinance, bill, or other issue in your community! Many people acting through an online form can show legislators the volume of support — or opposition — for a topic.

However, there are some caveats... Contact submissions from these online forms can lack personalization and identical messages can easily be filtered out of the recipient’s inbox. If you do use an online form to act — they can be powerful and we even share them with our audience on occasion! — be sure to personalize your message, speak from your individual experience, and consider following up with a phone call.


What to Say

Now that you’ve decided how to contact your legislator, what should you say? Try following these tips:

  1. Clearly state your message. Make sure you specifically reference the issue, its location, and important context, such as timeline or the number of people affected.
     
  2. Keep it brief! Be concise and get to the point. Remember that although it is part of your elected official’s job to listen to your concerns, they may have other tasks, meetings, and duties to address.
     
  3. Humanize your message. Help your legislator understand your concerns from your personal experience. Your legislator is a person too, so speak to their humanness by asking them to imagine themselves in your position. Also, avoid making any personal attacks. Since your legislators’ time is valuable, you don’t want to waste it on negative accusations that could weaken your message or even cause your legislator to ignore your concern.
     
  4. Thank your legislator. Your elected official works hard for your community and has limited time, so be sure to thank them for listening and taking action. A little praise and gratitude can go a long way in getting your message heard!

Michael Coleman is the Energy Advocate at Upstate Forever. He can be contacted at mcoleman@upstateforever.org.

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