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Tips to Writing Effective Letters to Elected Officials

By FastFred Ruddock

It is important that we inform elected officials where we stand on our issues. Our input on motorcycle issues and other important issues shapes the way our representative in the General Assembly and Congress create and implement legislation and social policy. Emails, postcards, and phone calls are good communication tools. However letters and faxes are the most effective and persuasive way of communicating our views to elected officials. Many legislators believe that a letter represents not only the position of the writer but also many other constituents who did not take the time to write.

These tips will help you write a persuasive letter:

  1. Be respectful: The letter should be polite, positive and constructive. Never threaten an elected official politically or otherwise.
  2. Address letter to your representative: Address the letter to the Representative or Senator(s) who represents you in the General Assembly or Congress. Mass letters to every member of the legislative body are seldom effective. Do not send a photocopy.
  3. Keep your letter short: Limit your letter to one page and one issue.
  4. Identify yourself: Anonymous letters go nowhere. Always include you name, address, voter registration number, and phone number. Even in email, include your correct name, address, voter registration number, phone number and email address. If you don't include at least your name and address, you will not get a response.
  5. Identify your issue: In the first paragraph of your letter state what issue you are writing about. If you are referring to a specific bill, identify it by name and number (e.g. Criminal Gang Prevention Act: S. 141).
  6. Focus on your main points: Choose the three strongest points to support your argument and develop them clearly. Too much information can distract from your position. Provide specific rather than general information about how the topic affects you and others.
  7. Make your letter personal: Tell your legislator why the issue matters to you and how it affects you, your family, and your community. Make a connection to the legislator. Did you vote for him or her? Did you contribute to the campaign? Are you familiar with him or her through any business or personal relationship? If so, tell your elected official or his staff person. The closer your legislator feels to you, the more powerful your argument is likely to be. Thank elected officials when they vote the way you want. Never use vulgarity, profanity, or threats. Don't let your passion get in the way of making your point.
  8. Ask for a reply: Include your name and address on both your letter and envelope. Ask for a response but never demand a response.
  9. You are the expert: Be polite and take a firm position in your letter. Be confident in your understanding of the issue and remember that the legislator may know less than you. No one knows more about motorcycle issues than bikers. State any professional credentials or personal experience you may have, especially those pertaining to the subject of your letter.
  10. Sign your letter: Type or print your name below your signature

Forms of Address:

State General Assembly:

The Honorable ...
SC State Senate
Post Office Box 142
Columbia, SC 29202

Salutation: Dear Senator:

The Honorable ...
SC House of Representatives
Post Office Box 11867
Columbia, South Carolina 29211

Salutation: Dear Representative:

US Congress:

The Honorable ...
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Salutation: Dear Senator:

The Honorable ...
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Salutation: Dear Representative:

How to locate your elected officials:

You can quickly locate all of your elected representatives at the local, state, and federal levels online at

Those without Internet access may call 803-734-2010 for assistance in locating and contacting their members of the General Assembly.

Contact FastFred

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