Frequently Asked Questions
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!
How do I stop receiving texts?
Text alerts to control what kinds of texts you receive or stop to cancel the service entirely.
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!”
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.
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 support and our volunteers will help you.
I donated but didn’t get any coins!
To get coins you need to either text donate from the bot or use the same email when you donate as you used when signing up for the bot. You also can’t use PayPal, ActBlue, or any other method besides the payment form on the site. Please contact support and our volunteers will help.
How do I change my name, address, email, or title?
Send account to edit your account information!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m a Google Fi customer, and my messages are being cut off.
This is a problem on Google Fi’s end. If you’re using your phone’s stock messenger app, the messages will come through properly. However, Google Fi Android Messenger version 2.8.040 or below will break apart the messages before getting to Resistbot. Either upgrade/try a different messaging app or use Telegram instead, which works much better.
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 and voicemails 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.
I’m getting [texts or emails] from [group] now, what gives?
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!
You used to fax everything, what happened? Faxes are harder to ignore!
A fax was a workaround for busy phone lines early on, but as more people joined Resistbot, it became self-defeating. Congress wasn’t staffed to handle the volume of faxes our members were sending—over 5 million pages in six months—so many offices pulled the plug. Today the bot first tries to deliver electronically directly into the Congressional electronic message system, or equivalent state system. We worked with Congress to make this possible; it is the fastest and most reliable method and easiest for staffers to handle and tally. If delivery fails, the bot will next try to fax, send your letter through postal mail, or volunteers will deliver by hand in that order. You do not have to think about how Resistbot will send your message, our obsessive volunteers will get it there.
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 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.
Are you sending the letters to my address?
We don’t send anything 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 requires 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. We raise this issue regularly with House and Senate staff.
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.
I don’t want to enter my credit card. How can I donate?
Resistbot Action Fund
802 E. Whiting St., Tampa, FL 33602
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 or Telegram. 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.
Do you work on Facebook and Twitter?
Facebook doesn’t support all Resistbot features, and both it and Twitter have substantial reliability issues. Apple Messages and Telegram are both faster, have better privacy, and deliver the entire user experience. We recommend one of those if possible.
How can I help?
Donating, especially monthly, is the best way. 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, work on our live show and podcast, or we are open to your suggestions. Please email us and we’ll get you going.
I have another question not listed above.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or text us at 202-930-9888 and our volunteers can help.