Contacting Your Elected Officials 101

Apart from voting, contacting your elected officials is one of the most important tasks you can perform as a citizen. It is the best way to share your opinions and helps influence changes within your local community. Let’s take a look at the simplest ways to contact your elected officials!

1. In-person meetings

If you have the opportunity, speak to your elected officials in person. You will find that you can have more engaging conversations and have a greater chance of having your voice heard. It’s important to note that members of Congress are often traveling, but when they are in town, you can call the district office to arrange an appointment to meet with them. There are also staff members within their offices whose job is to form relationships with individuals such as yourself. You will create a much longer-lasting impression during an in-person meeting. 

2. By Letter

We understand that not everyone can meet in person, and if that’s the case, sending a letter is the most impactful way to reach them. The offices for Congress members are set up to receive and log communication they receive by mail. When writing a letter, you will need to ensure that you concisely share your concerns or opinions, keeping it to one page. Any multiple-page letters are unlikely to be read, so stick to your main points and avoid being repetitive or stating anything unnecessary. And Keep in mind, you should ensure you are polite throughout your contact to increase the likelihood of receiving a response.

3. By Email

Email has largely replaced traditional mail, and it’s an excellent tool for contacting a member of Congress. If time is sensitive for your concern, email is one of the best ways to get a quick response, as they are usually processed quicker than mail. When time is critical, make sure you make that very clear at the start of your email to incite quicker action. Once again, being courteous in your communications is the best way to get a response.

4. Through Social Media

Social media is a tool used by organizations of all types today, including the government and elected officials! If you are looking to share your view and receive a quick response, it’s an additional option. Twitter and Facebook are the two most popular platforms for legislators, and they often use them to share information with their constituents. The great thing about social media is that you can upload images to support your case further and then tag your member of Congress in these images. Of course, always act with respect and professionalism when using this form of contact to start a civil dialogue with your elected officials.

Whichever way you choose to contact your elected officials, we encourage you always to take the time to compose your message and share your thoughts. Don’t ever act antagonistic, and instead, create a compelling and thought-provoking message that’s more likely to receive the response you desire. Get started today by utilizing our ‘Our Districts, Our Alabama’ template letter to contact your representatives about the 2021 redistricting process here!


How Does Community Districting Affect Your Access to Resources?

The community districting process affects us all, and the way district lines are drawn can significantly impact almost every aspect of your daily life. We’re going to take a look at how community districting affects you and your community. By participating in the line drawing process, you can advocate for fair representation for your community.

Access to Healthcare

Access to healthcare is of significant concern to citizens today. Many Americans are unaware that gerrymandering, the process of drawing lines in favor of one political party or elected official, can impact their access to policy-making, including state decisions about Medicaid. In past district drawing cycles, gerrymandering has been a decisive factor in blocking more residents from receiving Medicaid.

According to data from the U.S Census Bureau, 1 in 10 Alabamians doesn’t have health insurance. For some parts of the state, that number is even higher. While the topic of Medicaid expansion has been controversial, most people agree that healthcare should be a top priority for our legislators.

Quality Education and School Safety

Quality education in a safe environment is something that all young people deserve. 2020 was an especially trying year for students and teachers that presented safety concerns we have not encountered in decades. Gerrymandering diminishes a family’s ability to influence decisions about the safety and education of their children, and contributes to low-income students being restricted to underperforming, underfunded schools. By engaging in the line-drawing process, parents can advocate for better quality education and safer schools.

Access to Jobs

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, 91,065 Alabamians were unemployed as of March 2021. Job security has been a massive issue facing Americans over the last 12 months, with over 20.6 million jobs lost nationwide. Business and local economies suffer when the government can’t secure a stable economic environment, or pass legislation to grow the economy. When local economies suffer, so do their constituents.

Gerrymandering has a direct effect on our elected officials and economic policy-making. Small to medium-sized businesses especially suffer from the gerrymandering process of “cracking” or drawing district lines to split like-minded communities and voting groups. Splitting up local communities dilutes their voice. Rather than having a single representative making a strong case for their best interests, the community is divided between multiple legislators, often representing larger constituencies elsewhere and leaving them behind. When economies suffer due to lack of representation, local businesses can lose valuable resources and support, leaving them struggling to stay open and provide jobs.

Public Safety

Local representatives play a massive role in raising issues about crime. By participating in the line-drawing process, you can help to secure a safe environment and improved facilities for your neighborhood. Even simple additions such as street lamps can come about as part of this process, so take advantage of any opportunities you have to participate and share your concerns.

Budgeting for public programs and support services is also impacted by the district drawing process. When funding for public programs is cut, it can leave communities without the resources they need to overcome the problems they face.


The community districting process determines congressional, state, and local legislative districts, city councils, and local school boards. By participating in this process, you are advocating for fair elections. When elected officials gerrymander districts, we lose our power to choose who is elected into office and what legislation is passed.

As you can see, community districting can significantly impact almost every aspect of your daily life. Alabama Election Protection Network is working with grassroots organizations and faith-based communities throughout the state of Alabama to educate, engage, and empower Alabamians in the line-drawing process. You can get involved and stand up for the issues that matter in your community here.


How Elected Officials Use Gerrymandering to Dismantle Fair Representation

The foundation of fair representation lies in an American process known as redistricting. Redistricting is how politicians draw district lines for representation at the federal, state, and local levels. The line drawing process is undertaken every ten years, and in theory, allows communities and residents to vote for representatives that understand and care about the issues that impact them. These issues include access to healthcare and education, public safety, or public welfare – for example, how we invest in education, public parks, libraries, or roads.

As early as 1812, government officials have used gerrymandering in the redistricting process to tilt political power in favor of a particular politician or political party. It has also been used to diminish the voting power of Black, Brown, and other minority communities. Gerrymandering is a dangerous byproduct of the necessary redistricting process. Currently, state legislatures or redistricting commissions are responsible for the process by which district lines are drawn. The way that district lines are drawn effectively determines our representation within every branch and level of the government.

In Alabama, the state legislature appoints a Reapportionment Committee to conduct the redistricting process. The Reapportionment Committee establishes the state’s redistricting guidelines that are approved by the state legislature. These guidelines must adhere to the 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Alabama state constitution. However, these laws are sufficiently broad and subject to interpretation, clearing an easy path for manipulation by the party in power.

The two most commonly used techniques politicians use to consolidate their power over the communities they are supposed to represent are “packing” and “cracking.” Packing places all or a majority of ‘like-minded voters’ into a single district, consolidating their voting power to limit its reach. Cracking splits a specific voting block among multiple districts to ensure they are a minority in all of them, diluting their voting power. 

The charts below show cracking (left under gerrymandering) and packing (right under gerrymandering) for two hypothetical voting blocs. 

By doing this, elected officials sway representation to the detriment of targeted communities. Elected officials can target any community, but most commonly, they are composed of people who historically vote for one political party or Black, Brown, or other minority communities. In the South, in particular, gerrymandering has seen widespread use in undermining the ability of minority communities to receive fair representation.

You can advocate for your community and get involved in the line-drawing process by working with Alabama Election Protection Network here.


5 Ways to Stay Politically Engaged After an Election

1. Support Local Organizations Already Doing The Work

Local organizations play an enormous role in creating change in our communities, especially with the help of volunteers and supporters. Funding and having boots on the ground to make our passions a reality can aid in the success of the cause and help the organization’s leaders tackle the intricacies of the issue. For example, organizations like The Alabama Election Protection Network advocate and inform the public about voting rights, fair elections, and upholding the core values of democracy. With the help of people like you and other grassroots organizations, they can launch a redistricting campaign that will ensure a fair and accurate process for drawing district boundaries, putting communities first and not the needs of elected officials. Be sure to subscribe to a organizations’ social media channels and newsletters to stay up to date on current topics, events, and ways you can help. For more ways to get involved, volunteer with AEPN.

2. Make Learning A Lifestyle

Just because elections have ended doesn’t mean that we should stop learning about politics and how it impacts us. Continually learning ensures that you stay up to date with changes in politics and also allows you to brush up on what you already know. Start by doing a refresher on your basic knowledge of government. For example, what are the main branches of government and how do they work together and separately to make change? You can even learn about politics in your community and what laws are being proposed by virtually regular city hall meetings, virtually or in-person (depending on where you live). 

3. Identify An Issue You Care About And Pursue It

In life, we all have things that interest us. It could be the environment, women’s rights, or social justice. Find an issue that you care about, do some research and start the conversation. Doing this will not only get a dialogue going, but you might be surprised to find many others who have the same passions as you do. Try speaking to your neighbors, friends, or co-workers; you’ll likely be glad you did. 

More voices equal more change.

4. Contact Your Elected Representatives

You’ve done your research and cast your vote; now it’s time to get to work! A great way to get to know your elected representative is to start a conversation about policies and topics that you’re passionate about. This might seem like a scary task to undertake, but it’s as easy as sending an email, making a phone call, or engaging with them on social media. Making this connection allows for your voice to be heard and potentially begins the conversation for change to begin. Click here to find contact information for your elected officials.

5. Get Your Community Registered To Vote

A great way to stay politically engaged is to get your community registered to vote before the next election. In a recent poll by Medill School of Journalism,  Ipsos, and NPR, they concluded that  29% of Americans who were legally allowed to vote in the 2020 election never actually registered in advance. This statistic is actually a pretty big deal when considering this is nearly ⅓ of the population that could vote. When such a large number of our communities don’t vote, their voices and views are not heard. This allows the rest of the population to make the decisions in their place. Nowadays, it’s so easy to get registered to vote. You can share organization websites like Alabama Election Protection Network and Rock the Vote who will even lend a hand if needed.

Looking for more resources to stay politically engaged after an election? Visit to learn more.


Prison ‘gerrymandering’ and Its Impact on Communities

What is prison gerrymandering?

Every time a U.S. census is conducted its goal is to count the number of people living in a specified area (called a district). When a district contains a prison or jail those who are incarcerated can be counted as residents of the district versus residents where they technically reside.  The problem with this practice is that the census shows an increase in the number of residents for the district, removing the opportunity for fair representation and sending additional funding to areas with prisons instead of areas that really need assistance.  When district lines are drawn to represent communities accurately, they have a greater ability to elect candidates of their choice and hold the elected officials accountable. 

Who does it affect?

Prison gerrymandering affects communities mainly in urban areas. When prisons are disproportionately built in nearby rural areas, and most incarcerated people call an urban area home, census data becomes skewed, allowing areas with prisons to receive enhanced representation. Counting prisoners in the incorrect place results in a systematic transfer of population and political influence from urban to rural areas. According to, in 2018, nearly 46,000 Alabamians were incarcerated in a handful of locations. With so many people grouped into these areas, it’s not difficult to see how prison gerrymandering can cause significant problems.

Visit for more graphs like this.

How can change be made?

With the help of grassroots partners (such as T.O.P.S.), the Alabama Election Protection Network is organizing a redistricting project to prioritize public education, outreach, and organizing across Alabama. By improving the fairness of the redistricting process, AEPN will help build a more balanced and reflective representative body to ensure Alabamians voices are heard and contribute to determining our policies and priorities.
Learn more about prison gerrymandering and how you can help Alabama Election Protection Network put an end to these practices here.


Understanding Redistricting and How It Affects You

Redistricting is the process of redrawing the boundaries of legislative districts. This happens every ten years along with the U.S Census. Redistricting is supposed to reflect population changes and ensure that everyone receives fair representation. 

With a few exceptions, U.S. citizens over 18 years old can exercise their right to vote in local, state, and federal elections. Ideally, elections should represent the will of the people. However, a commonly used tactic, “Gerrymandering,” is when politicians draw districts to give themselves or their party an unfair advantage.

How Gerrymandering Works

What Is a District?

If you live in the U.S., you live in a ‘district.’ A district is a portion of the territory of a country or state. Congressional districts divide regions of a state in an attempt to equally represent the people. Several factors, including population, are considered during the drawing of district lines, which are later approved by state legislators.

The U.S. Census provides information for both the public and politicians to guide us in the redistricting process. The Census measures how population shifts throughout the country. When this data is collected, states are required to redraw their congressional district maps, “redistricting,” to ensure that the districts accurately represent the population.

How Does This Impact Fair Representation?

The way district lines are drawn affects how politicians represent our interests. When those lines are drawn to represent communities accurately, we have a greater ability to elect candidates of our choice and hold politicians accountable. It affects everything from the legislation passed in our communities to where our tax dollars go.

When politicians draw voting maps that benefit themselves, we no longer have the same power to dictate what issues are addressed in our community. We need to change the rules and create a fair system where voters choose the politicians instead of politicians choosing their voters.

People Voting

AEPN’s Redistricting Initiative

With help from our grassroots partners, we are organizing a Redistricting Program to prioritize public education, outreach, and organizing within historically under-represented and under-resourced communities who have the least access to the vote and to political power.

Our primary objective is to educate and engage the following targeted communities by:

  • Empowering smaller organizations to engage their constituencies in the redistricting process.
  • Providing education on the redistricting process for all Alabamians, including communities in rural areas and those who have less access to resources.

Ready to be a part of the change? Click here to learn how.