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How to get your voice heard by your elected officials

How to get your voice heard by your elected officials

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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Now that the election season is over, one question remains: How do you contact your elected representative to make sure your concerns are heard?

Emily Ellsworth, a former staffer for Utah Republican Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart, who, according to CNN, spent a portion of her job filing phone calls, letters and visits from constituents, listed off several tips in a series of tweets beginning late last week that have since gone viral.

Ellsworth, now a web content editor and marketer, was also featured on WBEZ’s “This American Life” podcast last week. The episode included a profile of Ellsworth, as a Republican and former staffer of Chaffetz and Stewart that voted and campaigned for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the presidential election.

Here are the tips Ellsworth gave to make sure your voice is heard by your local representatives.

Tip No. 1: Know the system

In a post Ellsworth wrote for Jezebel, the former staffer said knowing how representative staffs work are important to getting in contact with the representative.

She notes that House representatives have smaller staffs and smaller budgets than Senate staffs and that interns play prominent roles among the staff.

“Because elected officials represent hundreds of thousands and even millions of people, they rely on a few systems to try to prioritize and respond to constituent correspondence in many forms,” she wrote.

Those staffers you may hear from will listen though, she tweeted.

Tip No. 2: Don’t go online; letters and phone calls are more effective.

Ellsworth goes on to say the amount of emails received is “overwhelming” and responding to all letters was “impossible.”

However, phone calls, she said, are one way to get a representative’s attention; referencing a time that a radio show host gave out the representative’s number regarding an issue and the phones would not stop ringing.

Tip No. 3: Go to town hall meetings

Ellsworth said often these meetings are under attended with many in attendance regular attendees. However, they are a great place for a constituent to get their message across.

She said that signing up to be a part of a representative’s email list is a great way to be alerted when a town hall meeting is set.

Tip No. 4: Communicate with staffers regarding local advocacy groups

Community advocacy groups are a great tool for citizens to show what they are doing and how concerned they are about certain issues.

Ellsworth said it’s important for those groups to invite congressional staffers to events and communicate often to emphasize how important the issue is to the group and the citizens a part of the group. In turn, the group often becomes an early reference for when questions arise about the topic the group advocates.

Carter Williams

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