Writing to politicians

Page - December 19, 2006
Hand written letters are a powerful way to communicate with politicians. It shows a them that you are serious about an issue and allows you to outline your key ideas without pressure. It also often guarantees a response (even if it's not the answer you wanted!).

Who to write to

Politicians you may want to write to include:

Tips for effective letter writing

  • Tips on framing your argument under ‘the meet with your representative’ section are relevant here. (link to come)

  • Stick to one issue and keep it short and simple (around 400 words).

  • Ask your representative to a specific take action or support a specific policy

  • Provide evidence to back up your opinions. If you have it provide evidence of local support for your issue (like a signed petition)

  • Include relevant newspaper clippings or a briefing paper on the issue

  • Ask for a response to your letter

  • Always sign the letter and print your name and address below your signature

Follow-up

  • If you do not receive a response, follow up with a phone call

  • If their response does not address the issue or answer your question, write again and ask them to clarify their response - don't let them ignore the problem!

  • Keep all your letters and responses for reference

Email your representative

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. 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.

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 a letter (tips above).

  • 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.