Best way to reach your lawmakers

SC Statehouse, Columbia

COLUMBIA, SC — With all the people who have strong feelings for and against President Donald Trump’s executive order putting new restrictions on some immigration, you might be wondering what the best way is to contact your lawmakers.

State lawmakers don’t have anything to do with the president’s executive order, but people have plenty of other issues to contact them about. Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, was swamped with phone calls and emails in 2015 during the debate over removing the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds. “I couldn’t give you exact numbers but it was thousands,” he says.

So what’s the best way for constituents to reach him? “The best way to get in touch with me personally is by phone. I’m old fashioned. I still like to talk to people,” he says.

Sen. Glenn Reese, R-Spartanburg, feels the same. Every year, he orders 10,000 cards that have a calendar on one side and all of his contact information on the other. He passes out the cards throughout the year. “I find it’s probably the best thing to stay in touch with your constituents, in my opinion, after 27 years,” he says. President Barack Obama wanted to meet him a few years ago, saying Spartanburg County is one of the most Republican counties in the nation, yet Sen. Reese continues to get re-elected as a Democrat. The president wanted to know how he does it. Sen. Reese told him it was being willing to answer the calls from people in his district.

Still, some state lawmakers, especially younger ones who are more accustomed to Facebook, twitter, emails, and texts, may respond more quickly to those forms of communication. Keep in mind, though, that all lawmakers are busy, and being a state lawmaker in South Carolina is officially only a part-time job, so they may not be able to talk to you on the phone or return an email or text.

State senators and representatives represent a lot fewer people than U.S. Congressmen and U.S. Senators. Sen. Tim Scott’s office says, “We encourage our constituents to use our email form available on our website, https://www.scott.senate.gov/contact. They are also more than welcome to reach out to any of our three offices or through our social media sites. Staff members are standing by to answer any inquiries.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s office says people can contact him through any method they’d like. His website has all his contact information on it. http://www.lgraham.senate.gov/public/

Congressman Trey Gowdy’s office says, “Email or phone calls are the best way to get in touch.” https://gowdy.house.gov/contact

All of South Carolina’s Congressmen and both senators have websites that include email, social media, and phone information.

According to the Congressional Management Office, 63 percent of people who contacted their federal lawmakers received a response. Of those who got a response, 47 percent were satisfied with it while 46 percent were not satisfied. The most common reasons for not being satisfied were that the response didn’t address their concerns and that the response was too politically motivated.