Mail a Letter


Concise, well thought out personal letters are one of the most effective ways Americans have of influencing public officials.


How to Write a Letter to Your Public Official:

  • Contact your public official while there is still time for your request to be considered. Letters sent by mail can take a month or longer to be processed before reaching your representative or senators on Capitol Hill, so plan accordingly. You can also send your letter within the body of an email (i.e. with no attachment), or fax your letter.

  • Include your return address on the letter, as non-constituent mail may be thrown out.

  • Use your own words. Personal letters, rather than sending a form letter or email, show greater personal commitment on the part of the writer, and therefore carry greater weight.

  • Find out how your legislators voted on this issue in the past or what your public official's current position is on the issue.

  • Keep It Simple. Your letter should address a single topic or issue. Typed, one-page letters structured like this are best:
    1. Say why you are writing and who you are. List your "credentials." (Include your name and address.)
    2. Provide more detail. Be more factual than emotional. Provide specific rather than general information about how the topic affects you and others. If a certain bill is involved, cite the correct title or number whenever possible.
    3. Close by requesting the action you want taken: a vote for or against a bill, or change in general policy.

  • Be persistent — write back and ask for more information if you do not receive a specific response.

  • Thank the public official for taking the time to read your letter.

TIPS:

  • Be clear about what you want, listing the bill number and full name and any other pertinent ask.

  • Tell a personal story or example to make the issue real.

  • Ask for a written response with his or her position.

  • Personal letters are much better than form letters or petitions.


Addressing Members of Congress:

  • To Your Senator:
    The Honorable(full name)
    (Room #) (Name) Senate Office Building
    United States Senate
    Washington, DC 20510

    Dear Senator:

  • To Your Representative:

    The Honorable(full name)
    (Room #) (Name) Senate Office Building
    United States Senate
    Washington, DC 20515

    Dear Representative:

  • When writing to the Chairperson of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, address them as:

    Dear Mr. Chairman
    Dear Madam Chairwoman
    Dear Mr. Speaker
    Dear Madam Speaker

  • Identifying Legislation:

    Cite these legislation identifiers when writing to members of Congress:
    House Bills: "H.R._____"
    House Resolutions: "H.RES._____"
    House Joint Resolutions: "H.J.RES._____"
    Senate Bills: "S._____"
    Senate Resolutions: "S.RES._____"
    Senate Joint Resolutions: "S.J.RES._____"



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