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Although it may seem old-fashioned, writing a letter remains one of the most important tools for communicating with your elected officials on both the national and state level. Their job is to represent you and your interest, so your opinion is very important to them. The following tips can help you undertake this task.

Write or Type

Today, most federal and state elected officials read both letters and emails. Mailing address for the U.S. House and Senate are below. To find the name or email address of your representatives go to http://www.house.gov or http://www.senate.gov, or call 202/224-3121. To find the name and contact information for your state officials, visit Project Vote Smart at http://www.vote-smart.org.

Respect Formalities

You should address your letter or email formally by saying “Dear Senator ___,” “Dear Congressman/woman ___,” or “Dear Assemblyman/woman.”

Explain Yourself

Your letter should state that you are a constituent and explain why you are writing. If you are a parent concerned about a particular issue you should begin by expressing your opinion. If there is a specific bill you would like your representative to support or oppose, mention it by its bill number (H.R. __ or S. __). (For federal bills, the website http://thomas.loc.gov/ can help you find bill numbers. Your state legislature’s website should provide similar information.)

Get Personal

Include a personal story, if applicable, to help you make your point. Your interests and personal experiences often help elected officials better understand your viewpoint.

Stick to the Point

Address only one issue in each letter as different staff are responsible for different issues.

Be Polite

Although this goes without saying, it is important to be as polite as possible. You might want to start by thanking the official for his/her past record on your issue. If you have met your representative or seen her/him speak, mention that as well.

FEDERAL ADDRESSES

For Senators:

The Honorable ______
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

For Representatives:

The Honorable ______
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515