Cover Story
Elected officials more social

Communicating with elected officials for many of us can seem like a daunting task. The average person may envision a series of hoops and hurdles to jump through to actually make their point about an issue with lawmakers. In years past, this might have been a fair assessment, but today the obstacles are nearly absent.

A major contributor to the transparency is social media websites.

More than a century ago, the process of communicating with elected officials became easier with the telephone. In recent years, getting in touch with officials was further simplified with email and faxes.

Methods for corresponding with lawmakers continue to evolve with the booming growth of social media sites.

Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and YouTube give people even more options when it comes to communicating with candidates and elected officials in federal, state and local government.

It is important to note that the growth of online communication is no reason to stop pursuing face-to-face meetings, making a phone call, writing or emailing your elected officials. Those methods are tried-and-true ways to share your opinion, as well as to find out what your elected officials think about a particular issue.

The great part about the trend to social media is it provides voters with more opportunities to be involved. To everyone’s benefit, it is increasingly common for federal, state and local officials to post numerous messages about an issue while it is being discussed on their chamber’s floor, or in committee. This dialogue allows followers or friends to know what is going on in some instances even before media covering the issue.

In particular, governors have caught the social media wave. According to a recent examination of social media services, 47 of 50 governors are communicating via Facebook or Twitter. About 70 percent of governors use YouTube to get their messages out by video.

And nearly half of all governors use at least four social media sites.

Of course, the majority of messages put out by governors and other elected officials are essentially press releases. But many of them also take the time to communicate with their constituents. It is good news that they are reaching out to keep people informed about what they are doing and what they think about certain issues.

It is up to truckers and other constituents to take advantage of the new platforms available, as well as the time-tested methods, to push issues of concern.