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Civic Literacy and Engagement: Contacting Officials

Why Should You Contact Government Officials?

There are many reasons why it is vital for citizens to contact legislative and governmental officials. Here are a few:

  • Informing on Critical Issues: Elected officials are responsible for deciding on various issues but can't be experts in everything. By contacting them, you can share your knowledge and perspective on important issues and help them to make more informed decisions.
  • Advocating for Your Interests: Officials tend to support policies they believe benefit their constituents. By reaching out to express your support or concerns about specific policies, you directly influence their choices, ensuring your voice is heard.
  • Building Relationships: Regular communication helps establish rapport with officials and gain a better understanding of their priorities. This can be helpful if you ever need their help on a specific issue.
  • Ensuring Accountability: Elected officials are accountable to their constituents. By contacting them to voice your dissatisfaction or concerns, you play a vital role in holding them accountable and ensuring they prioritize the needs of those they represent.

Contacting Federal Government Officials

Contacting State and Local Government Officials

Components of a Letter and/or Outreach

Writing a Letter - General Tips:

  • Include the appropriate salutation. "Dear ____," is considered the most appropriate for formal communications, such as elected officials.
  • Include your name and the purpose of your letter so that the person reading it is immediately aware of the issue you are addressing.
  • State your relationship with the legislator.
  • Be original factual, and personal.
  • Provide justification for or against the specific bill. 
  • Request a response.
  • Keep your letter short. Use correct spelling and grammar. Proofread your letter before sending it.

Sample Phonescripts for Contacting Officials

Calling your elected officials on the phone is an effective way to demonstrate your engagement with current political issues and to voice your opinion on bills that have been introduced. Here are a few tips for making phone calls to elected officials' offices:

  • State your name, and then clearly state the purpose for your call, such as, "My name is _____ and I am calling in regard to Bill (number)"
  • State your relationship with the legislator.
  • Be original, factual, courteous and personal
  • Provide justification for or against the specific bill. 
  • Thank the legislator for their time and service to the community.