Tips for Writing to Elected Officials
Voter Info | January 7, 2017
Elected officials work to serve the people. They cannot do their jobs effectively if they do not hear the opinions and interests of the people, especially the citizens in their district. Often, a small number of phone calls or letters is taken to represent the opinion of an entire constituency. By contacting your elected officials, you can make a difference by successfully educating and influencing legislators on issues important to you.
It is especially important to write to your own legislator. If you don’t know who your legislator is, you can look up your representatives here.
Address elected officials properly (e.g. “Rep. ________”, “The Honorable _______”).
State that you are a constituent. Include your full name and address for verification. If you have met the legislator before, you may want to provide a brief summary of where you met.
Write as an individual. Legislators prefer hearing from “real constituents,” rather than representatives. Write about your personal experience and how the issue affects you.
Be brief and concise. An email should be one or two paragraphs, while a letter should not exceed one page.
Be specific. Mention legislation by citing a specific bill number and name or its principal sponsors (Resources to find particular bills are included below). If the bill is not well known, a short summary of the bill may helpful
Request action. Be sure to state exactly what you want the elected official to do. If appropriate, ask the legislator to vote for a particular bill or amendment, request a hearing, or co-sponsor a bill.
Ask the legislator to reply to your letter or email. Ask that he or she state their position on the issue in the reply. Remember to include a return address if writing a letter
Follow up. If you asked for a reply and did not receive one within a week, write another letter asking for a response. If the legislator complied with your request (e.g., voted favorably for a bill), send a thank you note. It is a refreshing change to most letters they receive.< Back to Citizen’s Toolkit
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