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Communicating with Government Officials

One of the most effective ways to influence the lawmaking process is by communicating with your elected officials. Below are some of the ways that you can contact your legislators and suggestions for effective communication.

Letters and E-mails 

The most popular way to correspond with elected officials is in writing. Most legislators accept written communication from constituents via U.S. mail, fax and e-mail.
• State your purpose in the first paragraph of your letter. If your letter pertains to a certain piece of legislation, identify it by bill number or the common name of the bill (such as "the Energy Policy Act").
• Focus on how the issue affects you personally. Use examples to support your position.
• Always be courteous.
• Ask for a response. If applicable, ask for the legislator's position on the issue.
• Address one issue per letter and if possible, keep your letter to one page.


Calling a lawmaker's office is an effective way to communicate a brief message. Telephone calls are usually taken by staff members, not the elected officials themselves. When calling, ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue upon which you are commenting.
• Identify yourself as a constituent by telling the aide your name and where you live.
• Provide the issue or bill you wish to address, as well as your position on it. For example, "I am in favor of H.R. 123, The Energy Policy Act."
• Ask for your legislator's position on the issue.
•Tell the aide you would also like to leave a brief message and reiterate your position on the legislation in your message.
• Leave your full name and address so that your legislator can respond for you.
• If you get the office's voicemail, make sure to leave your name, full address and your position on the issue in the message. 

Attending a Public Meeting

Attending public meetings hosted by elected officials or other community organizations is another effective way to communicate with elected officials. Below are a few guidelines for attending and speaking at meetings.
• Educate yourself on the issue and opposing views
• Prepare statements or questions in advance.
• Talk to neighbors or community officials.
• Arrive a few minutes early in case you have to sign up to speak during the question and answer period.
• Ask questions or make statements in a firm, polite manner.
• Respect the rights of others to express their opinions.


How To Address Government Officials





Letter Greeting


Spoken Greeting

President of the United States

Dear Mr. (or Madam) President

Mr. (or Madam) President

Vice President

Dear Mr. (or Madam) Vice President

Mr. (or Madam) Vice President

Cabinet Members

Dear Mr. (or Madam) Secretary

Mr. (or Madam) Secretary

Chief Justice

Dear Mr. (or Madam) Justice or Dear Mr. (or Madam) Chief Justice

Mr. (or Madam) Chief Justice

Associate Justice

Dear Mr. (or Madam) Justice

Mr. Justice or Mr. Justice Smith; Madam Justice or Madam Justice Smith

United States Senator

Dear Senator Smith

Senator Smith

Speak of the House

Dear Mr. (or Madam) Speaker

Mr. Speaker; Madam Speaker

United States Representative

Dear Mr. (or Mrs., Mrs.) Smith

Mr. (or Mrs., Mrs.) Smith


Dear Mr. (or Madam) Ambassador

Mr. (or Madam) Ambassador


Dear Governor Smith

Governor or Governor Smith

State Legislators

Dear Mr. (or Mrs., Mrs.) Smith

Mr. (or Mrs., Mrs.) Smith


Dear Judge Smith

Mr. Justice or Judge Smith; Madam Justice or Judge Smith


Dear Mayor Jones

Mayor Smith; Mr. (or Madam) Mayor; Your Honor


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