Nothing is more important to an elected representative facing a tough decision than hearing the opinions of people who vote in their districts. Here are three effective ways to contact your representative.
Writing a Personalized Letter
Writing a letter continues to be one of the most effective ways a voter uses to share opinions with elected officials. It can by hand or typewritten. Letters should be short, to the point and clearly reference the bill or issue you are addressing. Focus on the issue not the legislative process.
A good letter begins with your address to identify yourself as a constituent. It addresses the legislator as "the Honorable. Clearly states you are a constituent. Clearly states your support or opposition to a bill and states the bill by number. Example Letter
- Don't waste time explaining the legislation.
- Avoid statistics or complicated arguments.
- Be brief.
- State clearly the action you are requesting.
- Send a copy of your letter to COSA.
- Tell a story. Human drama trumps statistics. Clearly illustrate the impact of legislation on you or another constituent.
- Personalize the impact of the decision.
Sending an Effective E-mail
E-mail is convenient and it generally follows the same ground rules as a letter. It is even more important that you make clear you are a constituent by placing your community identity in the Subject line. The body of the e-mail begins immediately with your home address and the statement that you are a constituent.
Email has the same guidelines for a letter. Tell your story. Avoid statistics. Be brief. Clearly ask for a certain action and specifically identify the issue you are addressing by bill number. Example E-mail
- Be polite. Real people read e-mail.
- Be brief.
- Clearly state the action you want.
- Don't attach files.
- Send e-mail during regular hours not in the middle of the night.
- Don't cc anyone.
Making a compelling phone call
A phone call is quick and cheap. Rules for email and letters apply to phone calls. Clearly state where you are from and that you are a constituent. Limit your contact to support or opposition to a specific bill or action and then consider a text-based contact to tell your story. Call during business hours to either the district or Capitol office -- this applies to state and federal representatives. Example Phone Script
Ask for a response with the legislators final action. It shows you're watching.
- Write a short script if you plan to tell your story.
- Be brief.
- Be polite and friendly.
Now contact your legislator