An email or letter from a constituent is a very powerful advocacy tool.
In general, an effective email should be limited to fewer than 500 words and a letter to one or two pages at the most. Start and end your correspondence by stating why you are writing and what it is you would like the elected official to do.
The tone of your email or letter should be professional and courteous, even when you disagree with a position, or are expressing disappointment about an action taken.
Emails and letters do make a difference! Federal, state and local legislators read and frequently respond to letters they receive. They gauge their responses to issues from the positions of their constituents.
The following are important to keep in mind when writing:
- Remember the basics. Personal, concise, and correct.
- Write simply and succinctly. Identify the bill number and the name of the bill early in your correspondence. Avoid industry or political jargon.
- Be informed, respectful, and pleasant. Don’t be confrontational or make demands. Offer solutions, if possible, and do not assume that the legislator understands the subject matter. Use the information provided to you to support your position on a particular issue.
- Request a response and make your request specific. Ask the lawmakers to state their position and don’t be surprised if they give you the run-around. If they do, write again or call and ask for an appointment. Ask to be kept informed about where the elected official stands on the issue and make sure you provide them with you full contact information.
- Remember that written correspondence to public officials is public record. Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want published online or read in a public meeting.