WRITING TO ELECTED OFFICIALS

Writing to your elected officials can be very effective, especially if the letter is personal and brief. Mailed letters and emails are both great options for connecting with legislators. Also, watch for alerts on bills and issues from organizations like the OEC, or our sibling organization, the OEC Action Fund. On important legislation, we can set up a form to allow our members to quickly and easily send an email to a legislator about a pressing issue.

TIPS FOR WRITING YOUR LETTER

Address the letter correctly.  This will ensure that your letter reaches its target.  For state legislators address your letter to:

Senator _______
Ohio Senate
1 Capitol Square
Columbus, OH 43215

Representative _______
Ohio House of Representatives
Riffe Center
77 S. High Street
Columbus, OH 43266

Use standard business format.  This makes it easy to read and shows you are serious.

Be specific. If you are writing about a bill that has been introduced, include the bill number and name (i.e., SB 199, the Debris Landfill bill) and, if possible, the name(s) of the bill’s main sponsor(s).

Keep it brief. Focus on one major point. If you attempt to tackle too many issues in one letter, your main point may be diluted or confusing.

Back it up. If possible, provide a couple of brief, logical arguments as to why your legislator should support your position. If your local newspaper has editorialized in support of your issue, or community members have written letters to the editor supporting your position, clip the articles and include them. If the OEC, or another trustworthy source, has shared information on the issue, include it.

Make it local. Legislators are most interested in the impacts that bills will have in their districts. The more you demonstrate that the issue will have a local impact, the more compelling your letter will be.

Make it personal. If you can tell a story about how this bill or issue will affect you or your family, be sure to include it. Personal stories are more memorable and show the real impact that legislation can have on constituents. On high-profile legislation, there will be a lot of people sharing statistics and other figures. But a personal story will help connect the policy being considered directly to a real person more than any statistic can.

Ask for a specific action. Do more than state your position on an issue. Ask your elected official to do something that supports your position (i.e., support, oppose, or co-sponsor a bill).

Follow up. Keep track of whether or not your legislator supports your position. If they do, write or call back to say thanks. If not, call or write to ask why not and encourage them to support the issue down the road.