As we enter into the 2020 election season, it’s important to keep in mind that our system of government is designed to be responsive to the needs of its citizens. Your national, state, and local representatives need to hear from you.
Modern technology has made it easier than ever to communicate with elected officials. Unfortunately, that also means that it’s easier for your message to get lost in the crowd.
While e-mail is the most common way for constituents to contact their Senators and Congressional Representatives, it is also the least effective according to many experts. Visiting an elected official’s office has the greatest impact, but that’s not a practical alternative for most people. To be heard above the background noise, many concerned citizens are turning to electronic fax.
You don’t need a fax machine to send an electronic fax. If you have typed out your message into a Word document, scanned it to a PDF, or even if you have taken a picture of it with your cell phone; you can get your message to your elected representatives in seconds. There are several different ways that you can send a fax; by printing it from your computer, via e-mail, or using the WestFax secure web portal.
Start at the Senate directory. Select your state from the drop-down list to find out who your Senators are. You can click through to each Senator’s website to find their fax number. It’s usually listed on the “Contact” page; but if it’s not there, look for a list of offices. Very often, each office will have a separate fax number listed.
Follow a similar process, starting with the US House’s Directory of Representatives. Just scroll down to your state and district to find your representative, and click through to their website to find the right fax number. Again, keep in mind that every representative’s website will be a bit different, so you may have to look in more than one place to find the fax number.
State and local officials, too, often respond positively to fax messages received from constituents. Check your state’s website for a directory of State Senators and Representatives, or start at the USA.gov state legislatures page and follow the links to your state. Civic organizations such as the League of Women Voters often provide listings of state and local representatives as well, including office locations and fax numbers.
Because state and local officials have fewer staff resources, it is often more difficult for them to sift through the high volumes of e-mail they get from constituents. Special interest groups frequently use automated programs to send high volumes of e-mail to elected officials. Very often, those messages are dismissed as being far less meaningful than a personal visit, a phone call, or fax.
Fax can help with many other situations when you need to contact government officials for help. Your Senators and Congressional Representatives are eager to provide help with veterans benefits, requests for US flags, federal grants, nominations to the US military academies, and more.
Fax can even make the process of absentee voting easier. If you are unable to vote in person, you may be eligible to vote by absentee ballot. If you are traveling out of town, if you live overseas, or if you are unable to vote for medical, work, or religious reasons; you should request an absentee ballot in advance. To speed up the process, you can often fax your application for an absentee ballot. Some jurisdictions reportedly even allow voters to submit their completed ballot by fax, if they are unable to return the ballot by mail. Check with your local election officials for details about the exact rules and regulations in your area.
2020 promises to be an exciting election year. As we face a myriad of new issues, – some new and some old, – civic engagement is more important than ever. Make sure your voice is heard!