Communicating with Elected Officials
There are many ways you can become a citizen advocate. Idaho Voices for Children offers free training presentations on our website for public use, as well as the chance to become involved in our organization and our efforts. You can help change policy for the better for Idaho’s children. The best way is to start building relationships with your district’s legislators today. Here are additional tips to consider:
Here are some suggestions to consider:
Tips for phone calls
- Clearly state your name and where you live.
- Be prepared to make your point in several sentences.
- Know that the staff member answering the phone is taking brief notes on the subject of your call and your opinion.
- Ask for a response that includes the elected official’s position.
- Realize that the staff member answering phones may have been instructed not to make detailed comments about the issues; this is done in letters so that elected official’s position is not misrepresented.
- Follow up with a letter if possible. Mail, fax or email it to the legislator’s office.
Techniques for Effective Letter/Email Writing
- Make sure to address the elected official and your correspondence correctly. All members of Congress and the Idaho Legislature, as well as the Governor and the President, may be addressed as “The Honorable First Name, Last Name” followed by their address. Senators, both state and U.S., are addressed as Dear Senator Last Name.” Representatives, both state and U.S. are addressed as Dear Representative Last Name.”
- State who you are and where you live in the first paragraph so it is clear that you are a constituent. Make sure that you state any credentials, for example being a member of an organization or institution that would make you particularly credible on the issue. For instance, if you work or volunteer at an organization with experience on your issue, say so in your letter or email. This conveys that you have firsthand experience and knowledge about the subject that the policymaker may not have. At a minimum, you have credentials because you live in that official’s district and you have an opinion.
- Tie the issue to the larger needs of the community. Make the long-term benefits to large groups of people known.
- Ask for a response letter or email stating the elected official’s position.
- Include your name, street address, email address and a phone number with area code.
Click on the links below to find out how you can be involved in the legislative process.
Idaho Legislature 101
Idaho Legislature Website
Find out who represents you in the Idaho Legislature
How to contact your legislators