Contact Your Legislator
Tips for Legislative Communication
DO consider sending personal letters rather than e-mail alerts. Though e-mail is convenient, letters hold more weight to your legislator.
DO start with a respectful tone! Whether you are speaking personally to your congressional representative or senator or contacting them by mail or fax, a measured, respectful approach will always effect the best results.
DO start with a compliment whenever possible! Before you dig in and get down to brass tacks, try starting with a compliment. For example, tell your representative or senator how you appreciated their quick response to your recent letter. Or, you appreciate in general the work they are doing for your district/state.
DO mention legislation by name but avoid the numbers! All senate and house legislation, pending or passed, has a number attached to it. When you are writing or calling about a specific issue, try incorporating the name of the legislation that affects it in either the House or Senate. However, try to avoid citing bill numbers. Many representatives simply don’t memorize these and prefer to speak or read names rather than the numbers.
DO remember that mail to Capitol Hill is delayed for some time while screening for anthrax and biotoxins takes place. It is preferable to mail a letter (or a copy) to the district office. Numerous letters (or calls) to a district office on a specific subject causes the office to alert the Washington office of a "deluge" of mail or phone calls.
DO keep your correspondence or calls short and to the point! Your representative’s time is as valuable as yours. Keep your communications as brief and concise as possible.
DO remember to contact your representative whenever an important vote is scheduled! A friendly reminder with every bill that you are concerned about goes a long way toward keeping your interests in front of your legislator.
DON’T copy your correspondence from one desk to another. Keep your communication as personal as possible. Don’t simply copy the letter to your representatives or your senators. Rather, try crafting a few changes to it and personalizing it with their names and personal greetings.
DON’T contact anyone outside of your district or state. Your congressman might be offended if you start copying correspondence to representatives or senators outside of your district/state.
DON’T expect a response right away. The congressional process moves slowly. Don’t expect quick responses to your mail. You will probably receive stock responses on many issues based on the subject of your letter. If that is the case, follow up your letter with a phone call if you wish to further explain your view or elicit a more specific response.
DON’T forget to say "Thanks!" When your congressman responds positively to your correspondence and you are able to actually measure that response in a speech or vote, don’t forget to send a thank-you.
- DON’T be anything other than "ordinary." Even if you belong to a pro-life organization, it is more important that you remain "just an ordinary citizen." It is quite likely that your legislator will be hearing from the organization separately anyway. Legislators are looking for personal, grass-roots opinions.
These guidelines would apply as well to contacting your state or local legislators.
Write a Letter, Send an Email, or Fax Your Legislator
[ YOUR NAME ]
[ YOUR ADDRESS ]
November 2, 2011
Dear [ REPRESENTATIVE / SENATOR ] [ NAME ],
Thank you for receiving my letter. My name is [ YOUR NAME ] and I live in district [ YOUR DISTRICT ]. I have a concern about upcoming legislation that you are voting on soon, and I wish to express my thoughts about it. The legislation is the [ BILL ] bill which will affect how [ TOPIC ] will be funded. Here are my concerns:
I have appreciated your willingness to respond to my concerns in the past and would appreciate your continued responsiveness on the above issue(s). I particularly appreciate your recent vote on the [ BILL ] bill. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
My address is:
Name: [ YOUR NAME ]
Address: [ YOUR ADDRESS ]
Phone Number: [ YOUR PHONE NUMBER ]
Email: [ YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS ]
[ YOUR SIGNATURE ]
Call Your Legislator by Phone
Hello, my name is [ YOUR NAME ] from District [ YOUR DISTRICT ]. I am one of your constituents. Thanks for receiving my phone call. I have a concern about upcoming legislation that you will be voting on soon, and I wish to express my thoughts about it. The legislation is the [ BILL ] bill which will affect how [ TOPIC ] will be funded. May I express my concerns? They are:
[ CONGRESSMAN / SENATOR ] [ NAME ], I have appreciated your willingness to respond to my concerns in the past and would appreciate your continued responsiveness on the above issue(s). I particularly appreciate your recent vote on the [ BILL ] bill. Thanks again for taking my call.
I look forward to following progress on this bill in the press and through the media.
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