Checks & Balances: how to play your part in a democracy

               Here in America, we are given the right to elect our governmental leaders through voting on election day, but our responsibility and our privilege don't end there. We also get to communicate with the people who are elected throughout their entire tenure in office.

               In times like the present, when Congress is attempting daily to make sweeping changes to laws in our country, it is even more important to know how your representatives are voting. Whether you think they’re doing a great job, or a terrible job, speaking up and sharing your voice with them is valuable.

               It can be hard to know where to start. How can you tell what your representatives are voting for? How do you keep track of what your governor is doing? What are some easy, but effective, ways of contacting your officials?

               Don’t worry. The answers are here for you. Here are some tips, websites, and tricks to use to best advocate for yourself and others in America today:

  1. If you’re not even sure who your representatives are, visit and search by zip code to get a full list of both your senators and representatives along with links to their personal websites.

  2. To see what legislation your representatives are talking about, and to see their voting record visit

  3. According to former white house staffer, Emily Ellsworth, the best way to contact your elected officials is by calling them. The number to contact the operator in Washington is 202-224-3121. From there, you can get in contact with any representative you desire. However, if you know which representative you want to call, visit to find the direct lines for both their local and Washington offices.

  4. Finally, if you’re just too busy to make a call, but you still have time to text, text the word ‘resist’ to 504-09. This is a service that allows you to compose faxes on your phone and sends them to your representatives’ offices for you. Message and data rates do apply.

               Hopefully, you’ll use at least one of these tips at some point in your life. Much like the rest of us, governmental officials need to be critiqued, evaluated, and praised in order to do the best job they possibly can.

Catie Cheshire
Staff Reporter