Before you Begin
Whether you’re new to activism or a practiced hand, if you’re looking for new tools, this page is food for thought as you get involved The Lazy Activist way.
Your Representatives – Who’s Pulling the Strings?
Do you know who’s representing you? If not, find all of your elected federal and state representatives using the spectacular Project Vote Smart website. It’s simple and all you need is your nine-digit zip code. Make a list all of your representatives and their contact information, and keep the list handy.
Another great resource for finding your elected officials is the congress.org elected officials search. This site also lists your local officials and their contact information.
Don’t know your nine-digit ZIP code? Find it using the US Postal Service website by using the “Find a ZIP Code” link (near the top of the page).
Another useful site is the Database of State Parties to find all of the political parties by state. If you’re not sure what political party you agree with the most, then you might find the SelectSmart.com 2004 American Presidential Candidate Selector useful.
General Web Activism Tools
Did you know you can vote by mail using Absentee Ballots? Get the forms delivered to your home, send them back in time and you’re done! It does not get easier than this!!! Click here for a list of absentee registration links by state.
Register to Vote! If you’re not registered to vote you, you must register now! Did you know that most states allow you to start the voter registration process online now? This site lets you fill out the voter registration form to print and mail (if it’s available for your state). Not registered with a party? It’s alright to register as an independent (not to be confused with the American Independent Party). To fill out the form offline you can also print the National Voter Registration Form and mail it in.
Communicate with your representatives. There are many ways to get in touch with your representatives and voice your opinions. So few people take the time to voice their opinions that when you do it’s potent. Ranked by effectiveness, common methods include meeting with them in person, writing a letter, sending a fax, calling, sending email and signing petitions. (Email and petitions are not very effective, but every little bit helps.)
You can send free faxes through the Internet to many places in the world, including Washington, DC. This excellent service is provided by The Phone Company. For a more complete list of Internet faxing services, check out this informative page by Kevin Savetz.
What if you have an Internet connection but not email? Guess what – free email is available too! This is especially important for subscribing to newsletters from various activist groups (including getting action alerts) and for rallying all of your friends to get informed, take action or simply meet over coffee and talk politics. Here’s a listing of free email providers that are advertiser supported. Pick a provider from the most popular list because their level of service is usually better. Some providers let you pick from a variety of domain names, which is neat, but be sure to get web access and as much disk space as possible. You can even have your email account be a form of activism by registering an acount through EcologyFund.net. If you don’t want to set up a free email account but still want to email your representatives, you can do so through the Mr. Smith Emails Washington web page.
Even if you don’t have Internet access at home, at work or school or through friends or family, most libraries are offering Internet access. Check with your local library and see if it’s available. There are even free Internet Service Providers if you have a computer with a modem. As with the free email, these companies make money by selling advertising.
Things to Consider as You Become Active
Time – Web based activism only takes a few seconds to minutes and you often don’t have to remember who to contact since most activist sites will fill in the recipient for you. Pick how much time you want to spend participating in web activism. Whether it’s five minutes a week or two hours a day, be realistic and stick with it.
Money – Great news! If you are reading this through the Internet, you can get active without spending any more than you spent to access this page. We do encourage you to donate money to the organizations working on the causes you feel most passionately about to make sure they stick around and increase their effectiveness.
Group Affiliation – There are literally hundreds of groups working on different issues. Pick a few that you feel passionately about at first and add more if time permits. It’s better to be very active with just a few causes than to be on every mailing list under the sun but not take any action.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to participate in everything (or anything) the group encourages you to do. For example, for those campaigns that supply pre-written letters, you don’t have to send the written letter unless you choose to do so. If you do choose to send the letter, we recommend editing it to say exactly what you want. Alternatively, simply use the site’s email alert and educational links then compose a fax or email of your own and send it using your representative contact list you developed in Getting Started.
Spam – In our experience, all of the groups we’ve signed up for have been very respectful of our time and email addresses. We haven’t seen any groups that sold our email addresses, so we haven’t received any spam for causes that we didn’t sign up for. All email lists you join should provide an option for unsubscribing so changing your mind shouldn’t be a problem. With that said, use common sense in evaluating the legitimacy of a site and don’t give your information out if the site seems questionable.