Do you use Letter Campaigns? Read this before 2021!
TL;DR: New governors & US representatives should be updated within 24 hours of swearing in. New senators & state legislators may take a while (please be patient with me!).
The holidays are in full swing, my dog has tried to knock over my Christmas tree several times, and my fridge is filled with leftovers. That means we’re almost to my least favorite time of the year — the swearing in of new elected officials! Not that I’m not excited about awesome new legislators (like Jamaal Bowman, Action Network partner), because trust me, I am, but because me and my team (my team of me, hi) will sit in front of our screens for hours making Letter Campaigns work for you.
When new elected officials take office, we have to update our system so that your activists write or call the correct new person.
This takes a loooooong time and depends on factors outside of our control, so for the sake of transparency, here’s how that process works for all of our built-in targets: governors, US House, US Senate, and state legislatures.
All Live Letter Campaigns (read this paragraph, please)
Regardless of which built-in targets you use, you will need to reselect targets once your new elected officials have been sworn in and we have the targets updated on the backend. To do this, you will need to edit your Letter Campaign, clear all targets, add all targets, and save again. If you do not do this, your targets will not be updated to show the newly sworn-in people.
For example, if your Letter Campaign targeted Senator Axel, but he’s been replaced by Senator Sunny, you need to remove Senator Axel and re-select targets to include Senator Sunny going forward.
We have two new governors that will be sworn in in 2021, both on January 4: Greg Gianforte of Montana and Spencer Cox of Utah. Montana makes the email address for their governor readily available, and it doesn’t change from administration to administration. Montana should be updated within 24 hours. Utah on the other hand, does change the email address for its new governor. So that’s the fun part for me — either figure out the new email address (harder than it sounds) or write a file to match to their contact form (if they have it up). This process for Utah might maybe possibly be done within 24 hours, but probably within a week.
The new members of Congress will be sworn in on January 3, 2021. Thanks to our friends at House Communicating with Congress, this process is easy! I just have to make a quick little file for each new member of Congress, add their special ID to another file, and it will be updated in our system. This process should be done by January 5.
Some background here: We connect to senators via their contact forms on their websites, so when your activists fill out the form on Action Network, our system automatically fills out the contact form on their senators’ websites. We have to match our forms to the website forms exactly (this is also why things like titles/prefixes and topic options are not always inclusive or appropriate).
New senators are sworn in on January 3. However, they never (ever) put up their websites on the same day. I get it, it takes time to build a website. So every morning, I look to see if their website is up. Once a website and contact form is live, I’ll write the file thing to connect it to Action Network. I add their special ID to another file, and voila! This process only takes a few hours, but it may be up to a month or two before all the senators’ websites are up. Bear with me, it’s not my fault! I’ll update the help doc and email you as they are completed so you can keep up with the process.
Thanks to Google Civic, these are done for us. Google Civic gathers the email address and phone number for each legislator and our system matches to that. However (big however), Google Civic doesn’t get around to these for quite some time — like March. So state legislatures may not be updated for a few months. Trust me, as much as I want to hurry them along, you can’t tell Google what to do. Good news is, this year they will provide us with a timeline for when each state will be done. We don’t have the calendar yet, but I’ll update this post and send an email when we have it.