Email has become a very effective tool for quickly communicating with politicians.
Email is quick and easy way to tell your politician how you feel. If they get lots of emails on an issue, it shows how the voting public is thinking and this is important to a politician. Email is effective when numbers count and you want to show support for an issue.
Remember, however, that an email is easily deleted. Because your politician's inbox is probably overflowing, they may not even open your email. If you want a politician to read your words, write them a snail mail letter.
Be aware of how politics works. In New Zealand, many politicians are required to vote along party lines on most issues (unless there is a conscience vote). So you need to register your concern early in the debate, before the party has reached its position. Otherwise, your local MP may have little time to express their constituents' concerns.
Suggestions for writing an email:
- Treat it as an electronic personal letter. Follow the same rules for form and content that you would when writing letter.
- Avoid symbols, shorthand or email-speak. Write in complete sentences.
- Use your subject line. Think carefully about your email subject line so your time-strapped politician knows clearly what the issue is. Put the name of any related legislation in the subject line. This will help them categorise the email and respond more effectively.
- Include your home address. Always put your postal address somewhere in the body of your email. This will increase your chances of getting a written response to your email. Although email communication is starting to serve a more formal role, most parliamentarians and their staff avoid establishing an electronic conversation.
- Always be polite. Communicating in an abusive or threatening way draws more attention to your behaviour than to the issue.