Vermont Votes for Kids: A project of the Vermont Secretary of State

9-12 Curriculum, Teacher Materials for Lesson 6:
Making Your Point, Asking Your Question

 

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do."
(Helen Keller)

"Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can make a difference; indeed, it is the only thing that has."
(Margaret Mead)

Casting an informed vote is one key ingredient of maintaining our democracy. There is yet another. There are those times when a citizen needs to ask a question of, or express an opinion to, an elected official. This activity will help facilitate your efforts to keep connected with those who represent you in government so that collectively we can have the "consent of the governed" envisioned in the Declaration of Independence. We must do our part AFTER the election too. One of the most common regrets expressed by elected officials, at all levels, is that their constituents, those they represent, do not regularly convey their wishes or opinions. Here are some tips and resources on how to keep connected with officials and the "body politic" between elections.

ACTIVITY:

Phone calls direct to the offices of elected officials are an option, as are letters and electronic correspondence (email & fax). There are several easy ways to access the necessary information. Go to http://vermont-elections.org/soshome.htm. In the menu at the far right, you will find the names of our state's delegation to Congress in Washington D.C., as well as the names of the members of the Vermont general Assembly -- your Representatives and Senators in Montpelier. Here you will find all the information you need to communicate your views or questions. Let's try one!

Following the directions above, find our state's two United States Senators, and answer this question:

QUESTION:

  1. What are the phone numbers, for the offices of each of the two U.S. Senators?

If you wish to contact your Representative to the General Assembly in Montpelier, simply go to http://vermont-elections.org/soshome.htm. In the menu at the right, you will find a link to the Members of the General Assembly. From there you can go straight to contact information for your district's State Representative and Senator.

Quite often citizens do not know what state legislative district they are in. This information is a sort of "key" that puts you in touch with your correct official and determines for which elective offices you can vote. If you do not know which representative district you are in, you can figure it our by downloading the list from http://vermont-elections.org/elections1/2002RepDistricts.xls:

QUESTIONS:

  1. What is the name and number of you state representative district?
  2. What are the name of your state Representative and Senator?
  3. What is the mailing address for your State Senator?
  4. What is the name and contact address of your State Senator?

Congratulations! Once you have decided to communicate your views or questions, you know how to find the information for doing so. When you do, consider the following suggestions for expressing your views in an effective manner:

Suggestions:

  1. Writing to newspapers. To express your views to your fellow citizens through "Letters to the Editor," consult the editorial page of your local newspaper for instructions and mailing addresses. Generally, to be considered for print, such letters must:
  2. Writing to elected officials. Personal letters can be very important in speaking for or against a particular bill or issue. Postcards are also effective for quick sharing of your view. Here are some guidelines to help you write an effective letter to an elected official:
  3. Calling your elected officials. Telephoning an official is a legitimate and important method of personal lobbying and here are some tips:



Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz: http://www.vermontvotesforkids.com