First impressions count! When writing to legislators and government officials, strive to communicate as professionally as possible, just as you would in a face-to-face meeting.
Do your homework before you write. If you are asking for a specific action, be sure it is a reasonable request and something the recipient can undertake. Know which political body handles which areas: for example, don’t ask a state legislator to introduce federal legislation, or a civilian member of a government advisory board to file a bill.
Use the guidelines in the sample letter below to get started—for further inspiration, you can look at the legislator letters in our current Action Alerts.
- Be specific.
- Persuade with logic, not emotion.
- Keep your letters to one page. If necessary and appropriate, attaching a fact sheet is okay.
- Check your spelling!
- Be polite throughout the letter and thank the recipient for his/her consideration of your views in your closing sentence.
Sample Letter Format:
Title of Recipient
Re: Bill Number or Topic
Open with the purpose of your letter: to express your concern about a problem, urge support or opposition for bill, request the introduction of a new bill, etc. State what the position you would like the recipient to take. Indicate right away that you are constituent (if writing to a legislator).
Explain the problem in a concise and factual manner. If you are writing about a bill, state what it would do and how the bill’s passage would affect you and your community.
Thank him or her and respectfully request a response.
Your name, address and email
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