Anyone Can Write to Their Legislator - It's Easy

Guidelines

Writing to your Representative or Senator is an easy and effective way to participate in the democratic process. Whether or not you actually voted for the individuals is irrelevant. They were elected to represent their entire constituency, not just the people who voted for them. In addition, as members of committees, they are acting on behalf of the entire state, not just their district. You have a right to let them know how you want them to vote on any issue.

Don’t know which Representative or Senator is yours? One option is to type in your zip code at Project Vote Smart. Another option is to call your local Elections Board to find out your district numbers and names of your state Representative and Senator. Look in your phone book or at your public library, or on the Internet (search for your state's Secretary of State or for an official state government page) for phone numbers and mailing addresses at the State Capitol.

You don’t have to be an expert to write a letter, but the most effective letters follow these guidelines:

1. The best letters are handwritten, short (not more than one page), and courteous.

2. Address and open your letter properly:

The Honorable (Senator’s name) or The Honorable (Representative’s Name).
Address (at the state capitol).
Dear Senator (Name) or Dear Representative (Name).

3. Identify yourself as a constituent (include your name and address).

4. Clearly identify the bill you are writing about (example: “State Midwifery Act, HB 315").

5. State what you want done (“I want you to vote in favor of HB 315").

6. Personalize your letter. Use your own words, and include a sentence or two about your personal experience with the issue, or a sentence or two about the local impact of the legislation in question.

7. Be sure to sign your letter.

8. Be sure to thank the legislator for their attention.

9. A postcard is also quick and effective. Identify yourself and the bill, say what you want your legislator to do, and mail it!


Template for a Letter

(Pro or Con, State or National)

Your Name
Address
City, State, Zip
phone and fax (if you have one)
E-mail (if you have it)

[Date]

The Honorable [Senator or Representative]
[Address at State or federal Capitol]

Dear [Senator Name or Representative Name]:

I am writing as a concerned constituent regarding [name of bill, including bill number]. This bill is coming up for a vote on the [name of committee, or floor vote]on [date] and I am asking that you vote [yes, or no] on this bill.

The [passage, or defeat] of [bill designation] is important to [me, my family, my community…], because [something specific, something personal, how this would affect you, your family, your town, etc.] [optional: something you know about the factual basis, or quality of the bill… for example, as a mother who has given birth x times, I have studied the facts and the credentials, and I can say that…., or, the bill would accomplish what is recommended by xx national organizations or experts…, etc.]

Your [yes, or no] vote [in committee, on the floor or the House or Senate, or whatever is appropriate] will help [move this bill forward, or will help defeat this bill], which would [greatly improve the quality of life for constituents in your district or whatever is appropriate.]

Thank you for your attention to this issue. Please vote [yes, or no] on [bill number].

Sincerely,


Your Name

Keywords