How to Contact Your Representative

Have you ever read the news and felt so frustrated that you wished there was a way you could voice your discontent? Don’t jump on Twitter or Facebook to complain, contact your representative. There are many ways to contact your representatives and with technology becoming more prevalent in political activism, we often get texts or emails that allow you to send a pre-written response on certain issues. While this may carry some weight in your representatives' decision, handwritten letters are much more persuasive. Another way to contact your representative is to call their office, though they might be difficult to get a hold of. Writing a letter guarantees that someone in your representative’s office will hear your discontent. If you’re unsure of how to do this, this is a quick guide to help you get more acquainted with the process!  

Who do I write to? 

First, based on the issue, you should know who your representatives are and which one would be the best to write to. Is this a national, state-wide or local issue? You need to write to someone who has the ability to fix this issue. If it is directly related to legislation, make sure you are writing to a legislative figure (Senators, House Representatives, local legislators, etc.) rather than an executive figure (presidents, governors, mayors, etc.). If you’re unsure of who to write to, click here to search for your list of representatives. If you have a choice of representatives (for example, you can choose which of your two senators to write to), try to pick someone that will be more sympathetic to your issue. 

How should I write my letter? 

Write the kind of letter you would want to receive. It should be polite with realistic constructive criticism. You wouldn’t want to receive hate mail and your legislators don’t either. Letters can have an ethical appeal, but they should also contain evidence to support your stance. Keep it concise and don’t go over one page. Here’s a recommended format: 

Your Address

Their Address (Address can be found in the Hyperlink above) 

Greeting, (Dear Senator, Dear Representative, Dear Madam Chairman, Dear Madam Speaker) 

First Paragraph: Explain to your representative who you are and the purpose of your letter. 

Second Paragraph: Elaborate on the issue. 

Third Paragraph: Discuss the relevance of this issue. You can share personal stories and the effect this issue has in your area. 

Fourth Paragraph: Request action and a response from your representative. Always thank them for their time. 

Sincerely, 

Your name, any additional titles (ex: your major, university, leadership position) 

Although I said not to go straight to social media, voicing your thoughts on social media under the right circumstances can be impactful and informative. The reason I think writing a letter should be your first step is that if you don’t have a significant following, it might not be seen by the person it was directed to. Hopefully you’re now comfortable with writing a letter to a representative the next time you’d like to make your voice heard. Good luck!