Quick Tips for Writing a Letter to Your Elected Representatives

January 1, 2011

Think short, short, short. Limit your letter to one page or a few paragraphs online or in email.

Start Strong

Identify the issue or problem in the first sentence, and state your position:

  • Example: “I believe we need a better plan for boosting jobs and strengthening communities than expensive tax cuts that will lock in deficits for years to come.”

Support your position with an experience from your family or community.

  • Example: "My daughter's school laid off three excellent teachers, so the economic crisis is not just theoretical to us, it's affecting my kids' lives."
  • Example:  "Our community is struggling. The library has cut back its hours drastically, and I've seen kids turned away from the community center. Teens need safe places to go after school, yet instead they find the doors closed to them, and only streets are open."

Keep your sentences short and to the point.

Include your name, address and telephone number under your signature.

Take a moment to be sure you spell the official's name correctly!

Make it Personal

  • If your local newspaper has published a letter on your topic, include a copy to your elected representatives.
  • If your letter/email talks a lot about the experiences of your family, include a photo to help see the people it is affecting.

Sample Paragraphs for Letters to Lawmakers

Here is language you can pick, choose and change to compose a letter to lawmakers.

Choices for a First Paragraph:

  • As a [your state] voter, I write to urge you to [action you'd like to see].
    • If it's about the budget: I believe we need a better plan for boosting jobs and strengthening communities than deficit-deepening tax cuts that will burden economic growth now and for years to come, and a budget that cuts critical and effective services for people who need them.
  • I am a [your state] voter and I urge you to vote against a budget that cuts Head Start, child care, child protection and other services for children.

Choices for Middle Paragraphs:

  • Locking in tax cuts during a time of economic troubles, steep deficits and two wars means we will have less money for schools, healthcare, and [other programs] precisely when it's needed most. We are already cutting essential programs and services for families and communities—do not vote to make it worse.
  • With many [your state] families struggling to make ends meet, now is not the time to reduce nutrition and health programs, foster care funding, the earned income tax credit and other types of family assistance.
  • Families in our state and community are counting on you to make the right choices—against tax cuts that will hurt their programs now, and threaten economic prosperity with deepening deficits far into the future.

Final Paragraph:

  • Thank you for taking the time to listen to my concerns. I would appreciate a reply telling me how you voted.