Writing a Letter to a
Writing a letter can be an effective way of
making your voice heard in your town,
county, state or in Washington, D.C. To give
your correspondence the most impact:
Address only one issue
in each letter.
Be brief. Try to keep
your letter to one page.
Be courteous, but make
your point and don't be too apologetic
about it. If you're angry or feel
strongly, you can let that show, but be
State your specific
purpose or position in the first
paragraph of the letter.
Refer to specific
legislation by number and title.
Mention whether you are
a constituent, or identify another
connection with the recipient's
State why you support or
oppose a particular measure. Don't
concede the other side's points, even if
you agree with some.
Personalize your letter.
If you must use a form letter, type or
write it over yourself.
Before sending an e-mail
letter in response to a legislative
issue, call the legislator's office and
ask his or her staff if e-mail from
constituents is given any credence by
that particular legislator. Use normal
rules of etiquette for sending e-mail.
Your letter may be read
by an office staff member, who will
report to the legislator the volume of
correspondence and its general content.
These people may deal
with many issues, and huge amounts of
correspondence. It is important for your
letter to be concise and clear.
To a Federal Senator:
The Honorable (name)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
To a Federal Representative:
The Honorable (name)
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Congressman or
To a State Senator or a State
The Honorable (name)
(state capital address)
Dear Assemblyman or Assemblywoman
Representative___________: OR Dear
Delegate____________: (depending on the
title used in that state)
Meeting with a Government Official
Meetings with legislators can be a very
productive way of communicating, although
some may be able to meet personally with
only a tiny fraction of their constituents.
To give your meeting the maximum effect:
Schedule an appointment in advance.
Plan, time and rehearse your comments
prior to the meeting.
Be on time. The government official
may be late, but you shouldn't be.
Be prepared to wait. Legislators'
schedules are often very hectic.
Appoint a spokesperson who will do the
talking for the group beforehand if you
go with a small group.
Get to the main purpose of your visit
in the first five minutes.
Other group members may add comments,
but they should only be to reinforce or
elaborate on your main point.
Expect the meeting to be brief. If the
legislator wants to keep talking, that's
Answer any questions accurately and
briefly. If you don't know the answer,
say so and offer to follow up.
End by asking the government official
to do what you want him or her to do,
such as, "Will you vote for Senate
Leave a one-page statement of your
issue and position.
If you meet with a staff aide instead
of the legislator, remember that
educating the staff is very important,
too. Many legislators rely heavily on
their staff's advice.
Follow up with a thank-you letter,
answers to any of the legislator's
questions that were not handled during
the meeting or any other information you
offered to gather for the legislator on
Calling A Government Official
When there is no time to write a letter, a
phone call to your legislator's office can
be effective in delivering a quick, simple
message. To give your phone call impact:
Plan exactly what you want to say
before you call.
When you place your call to a state or
federal official, ask to speak to that
person's legislative assistant who
handles the issue you are interested in.
If you get to speak to the state or
federal Senator or Representative
directly, that's a bonus.
If you are calling a town, city or
county official, they may or may not
have an office staff, depending on the
size of the locality. If they do have a
staff, ask to speak to the staff
assistant who handles the issue you are
calling about. If they do not have a
staff, you will probably get to speak
directly to the legislator.
Make your message short and simple.
State your name and your main point:
"Please vote in favor of the
amendments to Code Section 10" or
"Please vote against Senate Bill
123." Then say why in a few
End by repeating your name, where you
live and/or your connection to the
legislator's jurisdiction. Give a phone
number and offer to provide more
information if the legislator requests
If the person who handles your issue
is not available, leave your name and
phone number. If your call is to support
or oppose an upcoming vote, also give
your main point as part of the message.
If you don't know a federal
legislator's direct number, call the
Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and
ask for that Senator or Representative's
Look in the telephone book for
listings of government offices to find
telephone numbers for state and local
Follow up with a letter if there is
Legislative Alerts, http://www.akc.org/news/sections/legislative_alerts.cfm
and click on Legislative Alerts A site that
I find the most helpful is, http://www.pet-law.com/
for tips, ideas and strategies on voicing
your opinions to your Senator and
Representatives. If you need assistance
locating your Senator or House
Representative (State, Federal or even
Canadian), go to http://www.mydogvotes.com
and click on FIND YOUR LEGISLATORS.