Letters, emails, and faxes are effective ways to communicate with your elected officials. Below are some tips on contacting and communicating with your elected official.
1. Be Original- Consider writing your own original correspondence. While many organizations can provide you a pre-written letter or postcard that you simply sign, many legislators still consider a thoughtful, original letter from a constituent worth 1000 of the pre-written letters. Feel free to use a pre-written letter as a base and expand on it with your own words.
2. Stay Brief- The maximum length of a letter/email should be 1 page. Keep in mind that the letter will most likely be read by a legislative aid and summerized for the legislator, so a brief letter is best.
3. State Who You Are and What You are Writing About- Identify yourself as a constituent and why you are writing in the first paragraph. This will keep your letter brief. However, refrain from using lines like "As a citizen and a taxpayer..." Also, if you know the bill by name or bill number state it in the first paragraph, or even the first line, such as "This letter concerns The Letter Writing Act" or something similar.
4.Personalize Your Letter/Email- If the legislation you are writing about will affect you personally, tell the legislator about it. Write a brief personal story about what the legislation will/will not do for you and/or your community.
5.Personalize Your Relationship- The more you can personalize your relationship with the legislator, the stronger your letter/email will be. If you voted for the legislator, worked on his/her campaign, or donated money to the legislator or their party, say so. If you ever met the legislator, briefly mention this in your letter. If possible, attend town halls and other public events your legislator holds.
6.Three Points- In keeping your correspondence short, consider making no more than three main points or less. Flush out your three strongest points and stick with them.
7. Be Respectful- The easiest way to not have your letter read is to be disrespectful. "Dear Idiot" will probably send your letter to the garbage, however taking a firm position on an issue is fine. Do not use profanity. Even if your legislator is not the person you voted for, remember to be respectful.
8. Include Your Address in Your Signature, Even in Email- Legislators are busy people and you should never demand a response. However some legislators will take the time to write back, but they cannot if you do not include your address. Including your address also affirms the fact that you are a constituent.
9. Proper Address- Below are the ways to address your letters:
Dear Vice President:
Dear Senator (Name):
Dear Representative (Name):
10. Follow up- After you have contacted your elected official, follow up on what they did. If he/she voted the way you wanted, consider contacting them to thank him/her. If your legislator did not vote the way you wanted, consider contacting them and respectfully express your disappointment. In any follow-up letter/email, mention the fact that you wrote him/her before the vote was taken.