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Voting and contacting elected officials: Tips for contacting elected officials

Tips

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.  

HInts for Writing your Elected Official

Keep it brief: Letters should never be longer than one page, and should be limited to one issue. Legislative aides read many letters on many issues in a day, so your letter should be as concise as possible.

State Who You Are and What You Are Writing About: In the first paragraph, tell your legislators that you are a constituent and identify the issue about which you are writing. If your letters pertains to a specific piece of legislation, it helps to identify it by its bill number (e.g. H.R. ____ or S. _____).

Hit your three most important points: Choose the three strongest points that will be most effective in persuading legislators to support your position and flesh them out.

Personalize your letter: Tell your elected official why this legislation matters in his community or state. If you have one, include a personal story that shows how this issue affects you and your family. A constituent's personal stories can be the very persuasive as your legislator shapes his or her position.

Personalize your relationship: Have you ever voted for this elected official? Have you ever contributed time or money to his or her campaign? Are you familiar with her through any business or personal relationship? If so, tell your elected official or his staff person. The closer your legislator feels to you, the more powerful your argument is likely to be.

You are the Expert: Remember that your legislator's job is to represent you. You should be courteous and to the point, but don't be afraid to take a firm position. Remember that often your elected official may know no more about a given issue than you do.

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, or would vote for, remember to be respectful.

Citation information: American Civil Liberties Union. (2018). Writing your Elected Representatives. [online] Available at: https://www.aclu.org/writing-your-elected-representatives. Accessed 12 Mar. 2018.

Sample Letter to Elected Officials

Sample Letter to Representative or Senator

 

Date


Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zipcode
Your E-mail
Your Phone Number

The Honorable_________________________
House of Representatives or United States Senate
Office Address of Representative or Senator

Dear Representative/Senator ____________________,

(In your first paragraph include personal information) I am very fortunate to have been provided with an excellent education that prepared me for the future. I currently have children in both elementary and middle school. Recently, I have become very concerned about legislative impact on education. As a parent yourself, I am sure that you share many of these concerns.

(Include facts) Research has shown that schools with strong school library media programs have better rates of success. For example, in Alaska it was found that schools with a full time librarian scored higher on standardized tests than schools with only part time librarians. These schools were able to have longer hours of operation, leading to higher rates of circulation, thus impacting student achievement. Similar findings have been made in many other states across our country.

(State what you are asking for) I ask that you support (Insert name of bill here). In supporting this bill funding will be provided that will support school library media programs. This is a very small price to invest in the futures of our nations children. All children should have the opportunity to achieve and develop skills necessary for the future. I believe that in supporting this bill you will impact the lives of countless children.

Sincerely,

(Signature)

Your Name