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A View from David Appell

Communicating with Congress

It’s getting to where you can hardly even communicate with your Congressperson anymore. Snail mail is scrutinized to death, phone calls are perfunctory, and now email is getting worse, says this Washington Post article:According to a new study, electronic messages…

  • July 12, 2005

It’s getting to where you can hardly even communicate with your Congressperson anymore. Snail mail is scrutinized to death, phone calls are perfunctory, and now email is getting worse, says this Washington Post article:

According to a new study, electronic messages to the House of Representatives doubled to 99 million from 2000 to 2004. In the Senate, the number of e-mails more than tripled to 83 million during the same period.

That means the average Representative is now receiving 620 email messages a day, and the average Senator is receiving 2,300 a day! All growing at a few dozen percent a year.

Blame it on interest groups, whose mass mailings of form letters are on the increase. Of course, interests groups have a right to communicate with Congress, but it seems a shame if their form mail is crowding out that of ordinary constituents who take the time and effort to write out their concerns in original language. Says one legislative director:

“[We’re] really losing sight of the important letters that come in – like the three-page letter from Grandma as opposed to those floods of mail where all they’re doing is clicking a button. It’s insane.”

Somehow there has to be a better way….

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