Writing your Elected Officials
Whether it is about something specific or general, writing a letter to your elected official is one of the easiest ways of conveying your thoughts and concerns on an issue to the people that represent us. Taking five minutes to write a letter can make a substantial difference. When your elected official, like your legislator, receives numerous letters on a specific issue from their constituents, it does influence their vote.
Here are some helpful tips for writing your letter to an elected official:
Use your own stationery. A neatly typed or legibly handwritten letter on your own stationery is best.
Write your own thoughts and words. Form letters or preprinted postcards are not as impressive as an original letter that you wrote on your own. Can’t think of how to get started? Try writing about a personal experience that you had and how it relates to the issue that you want to write about. It’s best to be brief and concise.
Be clear on your position. In your letter, be sure to clearly state your position on the issue you are writing about. It’s okay to demonstrate your knowledge of the issue, but make sure you do so in a concise format. Remember: be direct and firm, but not hostile.
Identify yourself. If you have met the legislator before, personalize the letter by noting briefly when and where that occurred so they can place a face with your name. Make sure you also include your address information so that your elected official knows that you live in or near their district.
Address elected officials properly (e.g. “The Honorable ________”).
Be concise. A one page letter is more likely to be read than a longer one. Make sure that you write about only one issue in your letter.
Mention legislation. If appropriate, cite the bill number and name, or its legislative sponsor. If the decision-maker you are contacting does not yet know a lot about a measure, a short summary of the bill may be necessary to include in your letter.
Request a specific action. Be sure to state exactly what you want the elected official to do. For example: ask your legislator to vote for a particular bill or amendment, request a hearing, or co-sponsor a bill.
Ask for a reply. If you ask a question or request something, ask your legislator for a reply to your letter. You can also ask that your legislator state his or her position on a certain issue in a reply.
Include a return address. Ensure that you include a return address in your letter.
Mail the letter. You can choose to either mail the letter to your legislator’s home, or office. If you mail the letter during the legislative session, be sure to mail it to their office at the State Capitol. Any other time of the year, you can mail it to their public mailing address. Not sure where to find your legislator’s mailing information? Click here.
Write a follow-up letter. If you asked for a reply and did not receive one, 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.
Have questions about this? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.