Election Day 2008 a Big Day for Women

According to the National Conference of State Legislature’s (NCSL) The Thicket blog, Election Day 2008 was not only a monumental day as America elected its first African-American president, but it also proved to be a big day for women in the "Live Free or Die" state:

The New Hampshire Senate has become the first legislative chamber ever to have a majority of women members. Thirteen of the 24 members of the Senate are women.

Nationwide, women held 24 percent of the state legislative seats coming into last night’s election.  Preliminary indications are that this proportion did not change significantly. 

NCSL also notes that in Indiana, women comprise 21 members in the House and 13 in the Senate. That means women make up 22.7% (34 out of 150) of our state legislature.

State Legislators Cope with Email Volume; Texas Congressman Stays in Touch Using Twitter

The Thicket blog recently took a look at how state legislators are dealing with email volume. The writer explains some of the responses were encouraging, while some likely won’t be received too well by constituents.

Some of the legislators who have their own staff had maladroit messages like, "I won’t be able to respond to your message myself, but one of my staff will get back to you" or, perhaps worse, the automated message came from a staff person, not the legislator, in the first place.  Staff may in fact be the ones who respond, but there are more graceful ways to explain this to constituents.  Announcing in advance that staff will respond seems gratuitous at best and patronizing at worst.

While some have been negotiating the world of email, folks like Congressman John Culberson of Texas have been pioneering constituent relations by using Twitter — the latest and greatest way to communicate using "micro-blogging." Check out Culberson’s Twitter feed here.

Internet Increasing Constituent Interaction, Pressuring Legislative Staffs

Have you recently contacted your legislator only to have him/her not return your correspondence like you’re some awkward high schooler who asked out the cool girl because he believed his friends when they said, "Hey, what’s the worst that can happen? Seriously man, I think you totally have a shot"? (But turns out you have to be a quarterback or a frontman for an alt-rock band to get a callback.)

If so, you may not be alone. Seems many more people are contacting their legislators these days thanks to the Internet, and often do so without a returned message or a satisfactory response, at least according to a Congressional Management Foundation study found on The Thicket. The study suggests the communication paradigm is changing and organizers are even soliciting opinions about how legislators can communicate better.

Furthermore, if you don’t know who your legislators are, check out the Chamber’s Grassroots legislator search. Just type in your address and it will display your legislators and their phone numbers/addresses.

Hope your questions are answered. Seriously, I think you totally have a shot.