10 Tips To Write A Letter Your Legislator Can't Ignore

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How To Write A Persuasive Letter To Politicians That They Can’t Ignore
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Until last month, I had never written a letter to any elected official. In fact, until last month I don’t think I’d written any letter at all, except to my middle school pen pal or on the back of a postcard to my grandma while I was on vacation.

Now, I’m something of a letter-writing aficionado and have incorporated emails to senators and handwritten notes to my local government into my weekly routine.

Why, you ask? Because politicians are supposed to represent me (and by me, I mean you, too). And, honestly, very few of them do a good job.

If there’s anything 2020 has proven to us, it’s that change is long overdue, and the people involved in making changes need a little nudge to remind them that we’re watching and we want improvement. 

So, if there’s a legislation you're not happy with, a bill you want to be passed, a service you think deserves funding, or an issue you want to be changed, hold politicians accountable. Let them know you’re watching and are willing to support them if they’re willing to do the same for you.

Here's how to write letters to legislators and politicians in a way that catches their attention while fighting for change.

RELATED: Why It's More Important Than Ever To Stop Being Silent And Use Your Voice

1. Don’t copy and paste.

There are so many templates online for how to write a letter to government officials, and some sites will even send an email for you.

But politicians are clever and lots of them will filter out common phrases or block duplicate emails to avoid being spammed.

You can use these templates as a guide, but make sure to personalize each one, especially the subject line. Think of it like copying your friend’s homework: if they’re too similar, neither of you will get the grade.

2. Written letters are better.

Putting pen to paper says a lot more than an email could ever convey.

If you’ve taken the time to write, your politician is way more likely to take the time to read it. Plus, it’s a lot harder to ignore physical mail coming your way than it is to delete a bunch of emails. 

3. Less is more. 

Stick to one page and one issue.

Politicians are busy people with a lot on their plate. They need to know exactly what you want from them in as few words as possible.

You and I both know there’s a lot more wrong with our country than one page can express, but try to be as concise as possible. You can always write several letters if you have lots of changes to suggest!

4. Know who you’re talking to.

Kick off your letter by addressing the person directly. You can find all the contact information for who represents your ZIP code here.

Address them by their official title and keep it professional throughout. You want them on your side, after all.

Remember that big changes start off small. Local governments are just as important as Congress, so reach out to anyone and everyone who can help.  

5. Introduce yourself.

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Tell them your name, the constituency you reside in, maybe even a little about your occupation or what you do to support your community.

The trick here is to seem as unautomated as possible. Keep it brief but still give them a sense of who you are and what you represent.

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6. Cut to the chase.

Remember: time is of the essence, and you need to get your point across quickly.

What is the issue at hand in this letter? What do you want to come from this exchange?

Arm yourself with knowledge so you can refer to specific legislation or bill numbers if you need to. This will also help keep things concise. Find bills and their numbers here.

7. Have key points.

Identify three persuasive points that best support your argument and drive them home.

Focus on why you believe something is wrong or right, what can help make a difference, or what changes you’d like to see. Plan out what you want to say so you stay on track. 

8. Get personal.

Politicians spend their whole careers trying to win over as many people as possible and get their voting figures up, so it’s no surprise that many neglect the lives and experiences behind each vote.

If you’re personally impacted by what you’re writing about, share that with them. There’s a chance that you know more about this topic than they do, so they’ll be grateful for your insight.

9. Be firm. 

Don’t forget that it is us, the people, who decide who gets to be in political office, so don’t be afraid to be demanding.

These people should be doing what we say, not the other way around! Say, “Here’s how I’m asking you to vote...” or, “This is how I want you to respond...”

10. Start strong, finish stronger. 

As wrong as it is, sometimes politicians need something in it for them in order for them to care. And what do politicians thrive on more than anything else? Votes.

Use this as leverage in your closing argument with something as brief as, “Make it worth my stamp,” or, “A change for me is a vote for you.” Then, sign off politely with a simple, “Many thanks,” or if you’re feeling fancy and patriotic, “E Pluribus Unum” (the motto of the United States).

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Alice Kelly is a writer with a passion for lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics.