Tips for contacting your legislators
First, check out our 2017 briefing, Make Your Voice Heard, to learn the most effective ways to get through to your elected representatives. The letter is still a popular choice of communication with a legislator, though it is fast being overtaken by email and social media. If you choose snail mail, never send large brown envelopes, bulk mailing or unessential documents, as they may be seriously delayed due to security procedures. Hand-address envelopes to personalize them. Phone calls and emails are the best way to communicate with your officials, because they are fast. Avoid email attachments, as such messages may be blocked or the attachments stripped off by server firewalls. Copy and paste pertinent information directly into the message.
Email is great, but make sure you adhere to these basic Email etiquette tips:
- Be concise and to the point
- Answer all questions, and pre-empt further questions
- Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Personalize the message, especially if you use a template
- Do not attach unnecessary files
- Do not write in CAPITALS (it looks like you’re YELLING)
- Do not overuse Reply to All
- Use a meaningful subject line
- Use active instead of passive language
- Keep your language gender neutral
It’s also very effective to pick up the phone. If you do call, immediately give your name, identify yourself as a constituent, and ask for the staffer who handles the particular issue that prompted your call (e.g., taxation, voting, etc.). Remember: it is staffers who research and write legislation, so don’t underestimate them. Even legislators who are not on a tax committee, for example, will have someone who is familiar with tax issues. Be prepared to get a voicemail box. Leave a brief message, such as: “Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/oppose (S___/HB___).” You will also want to concisely state reasons for your support or opposition, and ask for your Senator’s or Representative’s position. Finish by clearly re-stating your name and providing contact information. An email address is best because it’s faster than regular mail but still provides a written response, which is much easier to refer back to than a phone call. If you decide to write a letter, remember:
- DO state at the beginning of your letter/email that you are a constituent, and DO provide your address.
- If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, DO identify it accordingly (e.g., House bill: HB____, Senate bill: S___).
- DO state the purpose of your letter in the first paragraph.
- DO address only one issue in each letter.
- DO keep your letter to one page.
- DON’T write only to ask for something.
- DO remember to thank your legislator for his/her support.
- DO remember to never be negative!
- If you borrow from a “standard” letter, DO personalize it in some way, showing how the issue directly affects you.
For more guidance, check out the Florida Senate’s tips on effectively communicating with your legislators, and Call the Halls: Contacting Your Representatives the Smart Way, prepared by a former congressional staffer.
Addressing Correspondence to Your State Legislators
|Bear in mind that your state legislators all have district offices close to home, and they are only in Tallahassee when the legislature is in session. The 2009 session begins on March 3rd. Until then, you'll have better luck phoning the district offices and speaking to local staffers. Locate your elected officials by using the links on this page and plugging in your address and zip code. Then follow the links to each legislator's home page and personal contact information.|
To a Florida Senator:
Dear Senator (last name):
To a Florida Representative:
Dear Representative (last name):
Addressing Correspondence to Your U.S. Legislators
To a Senator:
Dear Senator (last name):
To a Representative:
Dear Representative/Dear Congress(wo/man) (last name):