Writing a letter to your legislator, when done right, can be one of the most effective and compelling ways to have your voice heard. Representatives’ jobs are to do just that—represent you—and communicating your concerns and priorities to them as a constituent is a great way to make sure they stay in touch with the needs of the community they are supposed to represent. But writing a letter to an elected official can be daunting and even confusing. Use this guide to help you get started writing a letter to your legislator and to make sure the letter communicates your passion and concern in a way that sparks your representative to create change!
Use the proper salutation. Start with “Dear” and the title of your elected official: House members should be addressed as “Representative Last Name” and Senate members as “Senator Last Name”. If you are writing a physical letter, the address should be in the top left corner and should include the official’s title and full name in addition to their address.
Be genuine. The more authentic and personal your letter, the more compelling it will be. You’re obviously passionate enough about this issue to write a letter about it to an elected official—what makes you feel so strongly? Do you have personal experience with the issue? Telling your own story helps your legislator see how this issue directly affects the lives of their constituents, which should prompt them to take action.
Use angry or indignant language. Be polite and informative in your letter and talk about the issue from your perspective. Describe why it’s important to you, how it affects other constituents, and why change needs to be made. Including threats or an aggressive tone will turn the legislator off to your message and divert attention from the importance of the issue.
Beat around the bush. If you are writing about a specific bill, refer to either its official or most well known name. If you are writing about an issue in general, take a few sentences to describe the issue and the details surrounding it so that the legislator has some background. Be clear about your position and specific about what you want your legislator to support or not support.
Be brief. Keeping the other points in mind, try to be as brief as possible with your letter. Legislators are busy people in general and they don’t have time to read letters that are multiple pages long or bogged down with too many details or complex concepts. Be as specific as you need to be, be genuine and personal, but try to keep the letter to less than a page total.
Send the letter even if you couldn’t or didn’t vote. Legislators represent everyone who lives in their district, whether or not each of those people voted for them. Legislators need to hear from all of their constituents about the issues that affect them, and your voice is important—make sure it is heard!
If you have any questions when writing a letter to your legislator don't hesitate to reach out to the LeadMN office!