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 Composing a Letter

WHEN COMMUNICATING YOUR VIEWS TO AN ELECTED OFFICIAL, KEEP TWO IMPORTANT GOALS IN MIND:

  • You want to influence your legislator's decision on a specific piece of legislation.
  • You want to build a relationship with your legislator that will lead that individual to respect and value your future communications on important issues.

SOME TIPS ON WRITING A LETTER TO AN ELECTED OFFICIAL ARE LISTED BELOW:

  • Remember – even if someone provides you with a sample letter, you should always rewrite it in your own words.
  • Write only to your own U.S. Senators, Representative and State Legislators. Elected officials don't care nearly as much about the views of individuals who don't live in the state or district they represent.
  • Write as a constituent using your home address, not as a company employee and not on company letterhead, unless you are writing as an official spokesperson for your company or organization.
  • Clearly identify your subject, describe the legislation about which you are writing and note the bill number if you know it.
  • Avoid raising a host of issues; stick to one issue with a few major points.
  • Be brief. Don't worry if your letter looks too short. If you think you have written a pretty good message, you have probably done very well.
  • Stress the public benefits or harm that will result from the legislation you are discussing. Tell how the legislator's constituency will be affected.
  • Provide factual, reasoned support for your position in your own words. Avoid angry or abusive comments, including threats of retaliation at the polls.
  • Point out how your background and experience allow you so speak authoritatively on this matter, but don't let yourself get bogged down in technical details and jargon.
  • Ask for the legislator's support of your position.
  • If you don't get a reply, or if you get an unsatisfactory one, write -- or call -- again.
  • If the legislator votes your way, write or call to say “thanks”. If she / he doesn't vote your way, thank her / him for her/his consideration. This lets her / him know you took the trouble to check her / his vote. She / he will appreciate your continuing interest and may vote your way next time.
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Contacting your Congress Member:

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