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HomeContacting Elected Officials

They are YOUR representatives in government! Sharing your opinions and ideas with elected officials at all levels of government is beneficial for democracy. It doesn’t matter if you voted for the official or not. They are still YOUR representative.


No matter the level of government (federal, state or local), elected officials make decisions about the services you receive. Their decisions affect you and your children’s education, affordable housing, safety issues, transportation, food security, employment, health care and so much more.


Your voice helps them decide what to do about the issues and pending legislation or local ordinances. Tell them how you think a law will affect you or your family, business or community.


Follow up after you contact an official. How did they vote? Contact them again to thank them, if they voted as you had requested. If they did not vote as you wanted, contact them again to respectively express your disappointment. In any follow-up contact, mention the fact that you contacted him or her before the vote was taken.




Don’t use a form letter. Be original and use your own words. You can use a pre-written form letter as a base, but then expand with your own words.

 

Make sure your name, address, phone number and email address are included on the letterhead or at the bottom of the letter after your signature.

 

Make sure you have the official’s title and name correct, as well as the correct address.

 

The first paragraph should include your name, whether you are a constituent or not, and specific identity of the bill, law, agenda item or issue about which you are writing. If you know the bill number, statute or agenda item, include it.

 

Be brief and to the point. The letter should never be more than one page.

 

Be respectful. Taking a firm position on an issue is fine, but respect their position if it differs from yours.

 

Choose the three (or less) strongest points that will be most effective in persuading the official to support your position. Personalize the letter by explaining how the law or issue will affect you, your family or your community. If you have facts to back up your opinion, include them.

 

If you can personalize your relationship with the official, do so. For example: Did you vote for him or her? Did you contribute or work on their campaign? Do you know the official through business or social interactions? The closer the official feels to you, the more powerful your argument is likely to be.

 

Conclude with a thank you for their time!



Emails should be constructed the same way as letters. They are simply a more timely way to communicate with the elected official.


Make sure you have the official’s title and name correct. If you know who the official’s assistant is and their email address, copy that person on the email.


Be sure to include your mailing address, phone number and email address after your name at the end of the email.


Be brief and to the point. The text of a full-page letter is approximately 450 words.


League members Stephanie Pearson and Carol Smith meet with Florida State Representative Dan Daley. Each year, League members interview state legislators to understand their positions on issues on which the League is focusing.



Make sure you speak clearly, loudly and slowly when speaking to an official or their staff.


Be professional and respectful. Establish credibility by communicating your position in a courteous, factual manner. Taking a firm position on an issue is fine, but respect their position if it differs from yours.


If calling a U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative or Florida Cabinet member, ask to speak to the aide who handles the issue about which you are calling. For other officials, make sure you have the official’s title and name correct. In all probability, you will only be able to speak to the official’s aide, which is just as good, sometimes better, than speaking to the elected official. Do not demand to speak to the official.


Begin the call by stating that you would like to make a comment to [elected official’s title and name] about [specific bill, law, agenda item, problem or issue].


The person on the other end will likely ask for your name and address. If it is not requested, be sure to state your name and address. If you are a constituent, let them know that.


Be prepared, be brief and to the point. It helps to prepare a script so you know exactly what you want to say.


Provide the specific identity of the bill, law, agenda item or issue about which you are calling. If you know the bill number, statute or agenda item, state it.


Choose the one or two strongest points that will be most effective in persuading the official to support your position. If you have facts to back up your opinion, state them.


Be specific in the action you are requesting.


Conclude with a thank you for their time!


A letter to the editor can take a position for or against an issue, or simply inform, or both. They can be in response to an article or opinion previously published by the publication, recent event in the community or simply to bring attention to an issue you think is important. The more timely the topic, the more likely it will be published.


Send letters to both major publications and weekly or monthly community publications. Be sure to include your contact information.


Keep it concise and on one subject. If the publication asks that you keep your letter within a predetermined word limit, follow that guideline. Every word and sentence should serve a purpose. Eliminate any redundancies and unnecessary phrases, and be ruthless about it.


Your opening statement is very important. It should tell readers what you’re writing about and make them want to read it.


Support your statements with attributable facts, and make sure to actually cite the attributions. Do not write “One out of five people does X.” Write “The [organization] says one out of five people does X.”


Include a clear call to action. Tell people how to get involved and where to learn more. Encourage residents to call their representatives, encourage elected officials to consider new information, etc. Give people an idea of something specific they can do.


Name names in your letter. If your letter is intended to influence an elected official, name that person. Their staff is collecting news mentions of the official and will be more likely to bring it to the official’s attention.


Read the letter out loud to yourself. This will help you uncover any sentences that are awkwardly constructed and in need of being reworked or rewritten.


After your letter is published, share it! Post it on social media, include it in any newsletters or email communications, copy it to distribute it at meetings. Encourage people to read, share, and get involved.


Here are two examples of published letters to the editor written by a League member. Sample Letters to the Editor