TIPS FOR CONTACTING ELECTED OFFICIALS

Writing to elected officials, legislators and other government officials can make a difference. The format, content and style of your letters are important - whether you’re asking someone to support a bill or oppose a bill. Below are some tips for effective letter writing:

Computer Keyboard
  • Don’t write too often. Once a month is plenty.

  • Use your personal stationery. Be sure to include your return address since Congressional members generally only respond to people in their own districts.

  • Address your correspondence correctly:

The Honorable (Full Name)

US Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (Last Name)

 

The Honorable (Full Name)

US House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman, Congresswoman (Last Name)

 

The Honorable  (Full Name)

Florida Senate Office Building

Tallahassee, FL  32399

Dear Senator (Last Name)

 

The Honorable (Full Name)

Florida House Office Building

Tallahassee, FL 32399

Dear Congressman/Congresswoman (Last Name)

 

  • Be brief and to the point. Use your own words. Never use a form or mass duplicated letter.

  • Write intelligently so legislators know that you know what you are talking about, that you’re not just writing in response to a letter-writing campaign.

  • Don’t insult them. Don’t say things like “As a citizen and taxpayer…” or “I’m pro-life and I vote.”

  • Keep your letter to one page whenever possible.

  • Address only one topic or one piece of legislation. Remember that your letters will be given to the Congressional staff person responsible for that issue.

  • Use facts and logical reasoning. Emotional rhetoric and statements that can’t be supported are counterproductive. Don’t threaten or make demands. Legislators already know the power of your vote.

  • Explain how this legislation or new program will impact the legislator’s district or state, positively or negatively.

  • Be as specific as possible.

  • Cite your awareness of his or her past voting record, especially on this topic or similar legislation.

  • Refer to the bill by name as well as by number. For example: H.R.3755, the Women’s Health Protection Act  (Passed narrowly by the House basically along party lines and will shortly be voted on by the Senate – need 10 Republican votes to join all the Democrats to pass – expected to fail)  This ensures that your letter gets to the correct assistant.

  • Ask him or her to vote in a specific way. Be specific but courteous. “Can I count on you to support (oppose)  HR XXX?”

 

In summary, know exactly what you want to say to the people you are contacting. And make sure your message is a simple and repetitive one. You don’t want to oversell your case with superfluous or emotional language; you just want them to know the few key facts that will convince them to see things your way.