Resistbot FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

I moved! How do I update my officials/address?

Text moved to the bot and follow the prompts!

My officials are wrong!

January 2023 saw both district boundaries and many officeholders change at the state and federal levels. Government staffers, Resistbot, and our data partners are all working to update information as quickly as possible.

Send account to the bot to ensure your address is up-to-date. If it is, your districts should be correct. In rare cases, like if you live close to a boundary, we can be incorrect. If so, manually correct your district with congdist or legdist for federal or state districts, respectively.

If officials shows the wrong state officials, please check again in a few days. We’re already working on it and contacting support in this case isn’t necessary. Thanks for your understanding!

I’m direct messaging you on Twitter and nothing is happening!

Twitter suspended our API access on April 27, 2023. If you used Resistbot on Twitter and nowhere else, and want to preserve your account stats and coins, please text us at 202-930-9888 with your Twitter handle, and our volunteers can restore access to your account on SMS.

How do I stop receiving texts?

Text alerts to control what kinds of texts you receive or stop to cancel the service entirely. We hope that you’ll participate in some alerts. Think of them like the bat signal—a call for help on campaigns other members like you have started. As you’d want help fighting for what you care about, we’ll hope you’ll also want to help others.

What are coins? What can I use them for?

Coins can be purchased, or earned through actions like receiving promoted alerts, and inviting friends. They can be spent on promoting campaigns to other members (covering our text costs) or paying for usage of the bot above what is given away for free. One coin roughly covers our costs for sending or receiving a text.

How can I change the payment method for my monthly donation?

Use the subscribe keyword from the platform where you subscribed initially, e.g., texting 50409 or Messenger. If you see a link to start a subscription, it means you used a different platform. Try another platform until you see, “Thank you so much for giving monthly!” If you have any problems, please contact us.

I contribute monthly, why are you still asking me to donate?

This can happen for three reasons: one, you have more than one bot account, perhaps on different platforms. One is subscribed, one is not. If you’re not on SMS you can try pair to merge your current account to your original SMS account, then text account to check your donor status. The other possibility is that you donated on the web with a different email address than you used when contacting your officials. Send account to the bot to change your email address to match. If you see a message recognizing you as a subscriber, you’re set! Lastly, if you donated via a third-party like PayPal or ActBlue, those platforms are not supported. Please cancel your monthly donation there and start a new one with the subscribe keyword. If none of this helps, please contact us.

Why does my credit card statement say recurring charge when I donated once?

Banks make assumptions based on data from all their customers and may add a “recurring” label to your donation regardless of if it was or not. Look at the charge description; if you see “ONETIME” then it was a one-time donation.

How can I end my monthly donation?

Send subscribe end to the bot however you subscribed initially (e.g., texting 50409 or Messenger) to cancel your monthly donation. If you have any problems, please contact us.

I’m texting the bot on Apple Messages but not getting a reply!

If you blocked the bot on Apple Messages after previously closing a conversation, the bot may be trying to reply there but can’t reach you. Or you may have initiated the converation without an Internet connection. Delete your conversation, and then tap here to open your conversation again. If that doesn’t work, please contact us.

I donated but didn’t get any coins!

To receive coins you need to either text donate to the bot, or use the same email on our donation form as you have in your Resistbot account. You also can’t use PayPal, ActBlue, or any other method besides our donation form. If you have a recurring donation on another platform, please cancel it, and text subscribe to the bot to start one here. Contact support to receive coins from past donations!

How do I change my name, address, email, or title?

Send account to edit your account information!

Do you have a petition for [topic]?

See the petition page for a petition search and list of trending petitions. If you don’t find one you like write one!

How do I contact my elected officials? What can Resistbot do?

You contact your officials by sending a single keyword to the bot for the officials you want to reach. See the keyword guide for a complete list.

I typed up a whole letter, but your system keeps saying you didn’t receive anything.

If you’re texting the bot, please text your letter one sentence at a time, you do not need to send it all in one text. Some carriers may not deliver texts above 140 characters to Resistbot. To avoid this limitation, use Apple Messages or another platform besides SMS.

How do I start a petition?

Write a letter by texting the keyword matching where you want to send it. Most of the time, users are prompted to turn their letters into petitions after texting send. Respond yes when asked. Or if you already sent the letter a few hours or days ago, text petition followed by new to turn the last letter you wrote into a petition.

See our petition guide or our guide for organizers to learn more about creating and growing successful campaigns.

Can I get the contact information of the people who signed my petition?

To protect the privacy of our members, we don’t give personal data to anyone for any reason. However, Resistbot will text your followers for you automatically every time you create a new petition. See our guide for organizers for more!

I changed my mind. I don’t want to send my letter.

Once you text send your letter is sent immediately and can’t be recalled, feel free to send a follow-up letter. If you didn’t send yet, discard will cancel your letter in progress.

How does the letters to the editor feature  work?

Send editor, and our volunteers will transpose the last letter you wrote to your government officials into a letter to your local paper. Members of Congress (and their staff) definitely notice when they turn up in the newspaper! Newspapers don’t accept anonymous editorials so you need to be comfortable with them publishing your name and town. See where our team has gotten letters published.

If you change your mind within 24 hours, use the retract keyword to tell our volunteers to cancel your submission.

Why do you need my info? What do you do with it?

Elected officials delete messages without information to verify that you’re a constituent; everything we ask for is so we can match you to your officials and deliver your messages in a way that counts. A zip code is not sufficient. Unlike most other campaigns and organizations, we do not sell, lease, or otherwise share your data with anyone.

I’m getting [texts or emails] from [group] now, what gives?

We get tons of texts too! Political organizations and campaigns use public data like voter rolls and purchased email lists all the time. Whoever it is, they didn’t get your number or email from us. Here’s your bill of rights as a member, our terms of use, and privacy policy.

Why do you include my phone number in your letters?

Most offices won’t accept letters without them. Also one such staffer told us, “at least once a month I had a designated block where I called constituents in order to follow up on their letters, especially if they’d written in about something personal. And I know some offices have the Member of Congress do that from time to time.” The information on your letters, whether phone, email, or address, is so your officials respond. A landline is fine!

Will my message count?

Yes! According to Kathryn Schultz of the New Yorker:

Contrary to popular opinion… written communications are an effective way of communicating with Congress, as are their electronic kin. “Everything is read, every call and voice mail is listened to,” Isaiah Akin, the deputy legislative director for Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden, told me. “We don’t discriminate when it comes to phone versus e-mail versus letter.” As it turns out, some less egalitarian offices do discriminate, but not in the direction you might expect. According to a 2015 C.M.F. survey of almost two hundred senior congressional staffers, when it comes to influencing a lawmaker’s opinion, personalized e-mails, personalized letters, and editorials in local newspapers all beat out the telephone.

You can learn more here about how offices handle your messages.

Will I get a response?

Many, many members report quick responses by email, postal mail, or even calls. However every office is different, we can’t guarantee a reply. But, Resistbot will tell you when it sends your message, and we deliver your message in a way that can be read and responded to by your officials.

How can I see all my letters?

There’s no way today to see every letter you’ve written, however if you claim a username, you will get a page like this where you can see all your petitions and vote drives.

What Mayors do you support?

Try the mayor keyword! If we have your city, you’ll be able to contact your Mayor; if not, we’ll be alerted, and will add your city as soon our volunteers can get to it.

How can I put paragraphs in my letters?

Use the return key on your mobile keypad, not the send key, and you can insert paragraphs where you need them. On a desktop, holding down shift while pressing enter usually does the trick.

You did not get my letter, parts of it were cut off, or my letter is mixed up!

Your mobile carrier is cutting off, breaking up, or mixing up your letter on its way to us, so there’s nothing we can do. You don’t need to send it all in one text. Send your letter in multiple, shorter texts of no more than 160 characters, as many as you need. Be sure to use the preview command before send to make sure your letter looks right. Use clear if you need to re-write it. Better: Use Resistbot on Apple Messages or Telegram instead of SMS, as those platforms don’t have this problem.

Help, my messages to my officials are coming back as gibberish!

Each carrier handles SMS a little differently. You can fix this by removing all “special” characters from your message: return breaks, directional quotes/apostrophes, symbols like % or $, etc. Alternatively, you can switch to Apple Messages or Telegram.

I’m getting a “Service Access Denied” message.

Some carriers, like T-Mobile, block “shortcodes” like 50409. You can dial 611 from your mobile and ask them to fix it, or if you have an iPhone, use the Apple Messages version instead. Android owners can use Telegram. Both are faster, offer a better experience, and are free to use.

Are you sending the letters to my address?

We don’t send anything to, or share your mailing address. However, you may receive a letter by postal mail from the officials you wrote.

Why are you asking me for a gendered title?

The Congressional email system, and most other official contact forms require a title. The only ones universally accepted are Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr. When the bot asks you for your title, you can reply with “Mx.” and Resistbot will send it, but not every office can process it. Visit your officials’ contact forms to know for certain. We raise this issue regularly with legislative staffers.

How do you make money?

Resistbot pays for texts, faxes, postage, calls, and servers with your donations. Unlike many other tech companies, you are our customer, not our product. We do not sell your data or personal information and are a non-profit organization.

Visit our donation page on a browser that supports Apple Pay or Google Pay. We also accept ActBlue, PayPal, Cash App, Venmo, crypto and checks mailed to:

Resistbot Action Fund
802 E. Whiting St., Tampa, FL 33602

However, we can’t award coins or monthly benefits unless you use our own form.

Can I deduct my donations?

No. Our primary activity is delivering your communication to officials which the I.R.S. considers lobbying. So despite our mission, we can’t be a charity. Donate to VoteAmerica, a 501(c)(3) charity that drives voter turnout each year, to make a deductible contribution.

I want to edit my letter! I have a typo!

Editing isn’t supported, but it matters less than you think. The occasional typo shows staffers that your message is from an actual human and not a copied script. The best way around this is to clear your message, copy and paste your texts back in, and make edits that way. You can also add to your message.

Do you have scripts? What do I say?

We don’t have scripts but have member-created petitions you can sign, or you can use the nearby keyword to see what your neighbors are writing. Writing an original letter, though, is a great way to be individually heard; it doesn’t have to be complicated, just a few genuine sentences with a clear ask and perhaps a personal story about why it matters to you. Don’t worry about typos or mistakes; they show you’re a real human. Please don’t paste phone scripts into Resistbot, your officials will likely discard them.

Who should I write to?

When in doubt, use congress for any national issue. Federal legislation must pass both the House and Senate, so this will cover your bases. Use state for state issues and mayor for local issues. Our user guide has more targets.

I want to contact representatives outside my district.

Congressional staffers throw away letters from people they don’t represent; hence, we don’t allow this. Here’s more from the Congressional Management Foundation, a non-partisan civic education group. You can however, start a petition and share it with friends outside your district.

I’m an American living abroad. Will Resistbot work for me?

Yes! Use the bot on Apple Messages, Telegram or WhatsApp. When prompted, provide the address where you’re registered to vote/get your absentee ballot from. If you don’t know, use the last place you lived in the United States.

Who’s behind this?

Over 800 volunteers have contributed since 2017, all passionate about democracy, government accountability, and voter turnout. Resistbot is a non-profit, non-stock organization with no owners, and governance falls to its board of directors: Gina Bianchini, Jason Putorti, and Eric Ries. Read our mission and values and user bill of rights. We’ve also been fact-checked by Snopes, twice.

Are you going to spam me?

No. We won’t text you ads or spam. We rely on your donations, not outside funding, so serving you is the only way we’re going to stay online.

If you mean texting you a lot, no. You’re in control of the texts you receive with the alerts keyword, and we don’t give numbers to anyone. And unlike similar services we don’t share your email or other information with other groups.

Why did you reject my message?

Real public servants read your letters, so we want our service to respect the hard work they are doing and for your letter to be fully considered. We understand that you may be upset (we are too, that’s why we made Resistbot), but please write something you’d want to be read aloud on the House or Senate floor with your name attached. Officials tend to delete messages with profanity or excessive punctuation, and refer threats to the Capitol Police.

How can I help?

Giving monthly is the way to keep us alive! If you’re part of an advocacy group or democratic club or know an activist in your community, please share our organizer guide with them! You can also volunteer to program (Python, NodeJS, AWS, Terraform, Docker, Postgres, and iOS especially), write articles, submit letters to the editor, or we are open to your suggestions. Please hop in our Discord and we’ll get you going.

I have another question not listed above.

Email or text us at 202-930-9888 and our volunteers can help.