Contacting Elected Officials

Short cut

To get the phone numbers of your US Senators, Representative, and state legislators on your smartphone, text your zip code to 520-200-2223.

Contacting the President and Vice President

PRESIDENT
Online: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
To leave comments: 202-456-1111
Switch Board: 202-456-1414
Mailing address:
The White House
Office of the President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

VICE PRESIDENT
Online: [not currently available through the White House website]
To leave comments: [currently, no separate telephone number is provided]
Switch Board: 202-456-1414
Mailing address:
Office of the Vice President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Contacting US Senators from New York State

Gillibrand, Kirsten E.
Online: www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact/
Telephone: 202-224-4451
Mailing address: 
478 Russell Senate Office Building
​Washington DC 20510

Local Offices (closest to Ithaca):

100 State Street, Room 4195
Rochester, NY 14614
Telephone: 585-263-6250

100 South Clinton Street, Room 1470, PO Box 7378
Syracuse, NY 13261
Telephone: 315-448-0470


Schumer, Charles E. 
Online: www.schumer.senate.gov/contact/email-chuck
Telephone: 202-224-6542

Mailing address: 
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Local Offices (closest to Ithaca):
15 Henry Street, Room. 100 A-F
Binghamton, NY 13901
Telephone: 607-772-6792

100 State Street, Room 3040
Rochester, NY 14614
Phone: 585-263-5866

100 South Clinton Street, Room 841
Syracuse, NY 13261
Telephone: 315-423-5471

Not a New York resident?
To find US Senators from other states, go to the US Senate's web site.
You can also call the Captial Hill switchboard at  202-224-3121 to be directed to both Senators and Representatives.

Contacting House Members

Tom Reed, 23rd District
The 23rd Congressional District includes Ithaca, as well as all of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tompkins, and Yates Counties, as well as parts of Ontario and Tioga Counties.

Online: https://reed.house.gov/contact/email
Telephone: 202-225-3161
Mailing address:
2437 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Ithaca office:
401 E. State St. Suite 410
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: (607) 222-2027.

Other Districts
To contact other representatives, go to the House's Directory
You can also call the Captial Hill switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be directed to both Senators and Representatives.

To determine who your representative is by your address, go to govtrack's Congressional Map.

NY State Senators and Assembly Members

New York State Senate
The New York State Senate website provides contact information for its members, but if you want to search for your state senator, a form is provided for you to identify yourself first. 

New York State Assembly
The New York State Assembly website provides contact information for its members as well as a searchable directory.

The New York State Board of Elections has a searchable district map to help you find your State Senator or Assembly Member as well. Contact information is also provided.

Local Government

  • Tompkins County government includes contact information for the county legislator, county administrator, and departments.
  • Town of Ithaca. Ithaca College is in the Town of Ithaca, not the City of Ithaca. On the town's website is contact information for town staff and town board members. 
  • City of Ithaca includes contact information for the mayor and departments.

Government Information

  • USA.gov 
    The U.S. government's official web portal. This site makes it easy for the public to get U.S. government information and services on the web.
  • Congress.gov
    Database of United States legislative information including bills, resolutions, the Congressional Record, treaties, Committee Reports, Public Laws, Roll Call Votes, and more.
  • Federal Register
    The official journal of the federal government of the United States that contains government agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices.
  • Congressional Hearings
    Most Congressional hearings are published two months to two years after they are held. Only hearings released to GPO from the committees are made available on GPO Access. Coverage from 1985 - present.
  • U.S. Code from the House of Representatives 
    Searchable version of the U.S. code either by keyword, boolean or by title and section. See also:  GPO Access

Additional Political Resources

These guides and databases are available to members of the Ithaca College community only.
  • CQ Magazine includes, among many other features, the latest vote tallies in Congress, so you can know how your representative voted on specific isssues.
  • CQ Researcher is noted for its in-depth, unbiased coverage of health, social trends, international affairs, the environment, the economy, and other issues in the news.
  • Opposing Viewpoints in Context provides articles, podcasts, maps, statistics, images, and other resources.
These resources are available to all. They track political and social issues. Many feature pro and con viewpoints.
  • GovTrack 
    Tracks legislation currently being debated by the US Congress. Not a government website, but an open-source and community project.
  • Miller Center 
    An affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history. On the site are policy reports and programs on issues of public interest.
  • ProCon.org
    A nonpartisan citizenship/education organization
  • On The Issues
    Covers topics related to election campaigns
  • Public Agenda
    Has as its goal to elevate a diversity of voices, forging common ground and improving dialogue and collaboration among leaders and communities,
  • League of Women Voters of New York 
    It is the centennial of women getting the vote, and the league continues to provide many resources regarding voting, elected officials, and issues.
These resources are focused on campaign finance.
  • Opensecrets
    A resource from the Center for Responsive Politics that reports on PACs, donors, soft money and lobbyists.
  • Follow the Money
    From the National Institute on Money in State Politics Organization. Ttracks campaign money in state-level elections.
  • Common Cause's Money in Politics 
    One of the organization's main missions is to expose corporate power in government and to toughen disclosure laws.

Contact Us

picture of John Henderson

John Henderson

Social Sciences Librarian
(607) 274-1961
picture of Cathy Michael

Cathy Michael

Communications Librarian
(607) 274-1293

Tips for Contacting Elected Officials

Is it worth it?

Elected officials have been accused of systematically discounting the opinions of constituents with whom they disagree. Even if they don't disagree, it will be be difficult to sway them to buck their party's position. However, letters and phone calls can and have made the difference, especially on issues that have some bipartisan support. Even if it does not convince your representatives on a specific issue, they need to know you are out there. They well know that people who are active enough to contact them are the most conscientious voters.

In General

 
  1. Only contact your own elected official. Otherwise your message will be ignored. The only exception is if the Senator or Representative is in a leadership role, and even then your chances are iffy for getting through.
  2. There is power in numbers. You may be only one person, but the more people who contact an office, the more impact the contacts will have. Unlike voting, you can do it more than once.
  3. If you sound like a "crackpot" or a "kook," you won't be ignored, but you may not get the response you hope for.
  4. You can be angry but civil and polite at the same time. 

For Phone Calls

Based on advice from Mark Jahnke, who used to work in a US Senator's office as the person in charge of incoming phone calls.
  1. Give your name, city, and zip code, and say "I don't need a response." If you want a response, it will take additional time to input you into a database.
  2. Your tally will not be marked down unless you can rattle off a city and zip from the state, or are calling from an in-state area code.
  3. State one issue, state your position. That's it. That's all the person on the phone will write down, so they can tally who is in favor, who is against.
  4. Please be nice! The people answering the phones have the hardest job in DC and some of the lowest pay as well. Many are unpaid interns – so it won't help to tell them that as a taxpayer you are paying their salary. Thank them for their hard work.
An additional tip is to call during business hours, and keep trying if the line is busy. There have been claims that some elected officials purposefully keep their message boxes full, so no after-hours messages can get through. Some have even been accused of leaving their phones off the hook during business hours. This has not been documented.

For Emails

  1. Reports are mixed on the effectiveness of emails. Some insiders claim that as long as they are not formula emails, they have the same impact as letters and are more effective because of their immediacy. Others advise that they are routinely discounted because it takes so little investment in time and effort by those who send them. 
  2. If your email is not a copy and paste message in full or in part, it is less likely to be discounted and deleted.
  3. If you ask for a response, you may not get a response, but your email may be saved. Include the same information you would on a letter, such as an address to identify yourself as a constituent.

For Letters or Postcards

  1. Since they have to be screened and radiated, it can take ten days to several weeks for letters to reach their destination, so for a timely issue, they may not be effective at all. Postcards aren't screened the same way and get through more quickly.
  2. With that caveat, letters written in your own words have been called the most effective means of contacting an elected representative. 
  3. State clearly who you are and that you are a constituent. If you aren't, explain why you are contacting them.
  4. In stating your purpose for writing, be concise and to the point. Address only one issue at a time.
  5. Be original and use your own words. If you want to get past an initial screening, be creative and personal. Don't use pre-written texts.
  6. Type or write very legibly. One former intern claimed all letters and postcards written in cursive immediately went to the trash bin.
  7. Be courteous and respectful, even if it hurts. Remember that it is an overworked, underpaid staff member or an unpaid intern who is serving as a buffer between you and the elected official.

In Person

  1. You may never have a chance to meet the President or a US Senator, but Congressional Representatives welcome visits to their office in Washington, although they do have demanding schedules.
  2. Group visits can be particularly effective and can be planned in advance.
  3. Representatives regularly hold town hall meetings in various parts of their district, so one of the best ways to contact these officials is to show up.

Petitions

  1. Sorry, the word is that petitions are not particularly influential. 
  2. Again the exception is if the numbers are too great to be ignored.
  3. They will have more effect if they not only have a huge number of signatures but can be delivered in person.
  4. Signing online petitions will often produce an increase in your email traffic and more requests for money, since the lists that have been generated are routinely sold or shared.