|What Does It Mean||To Be A Citizen||In A Democracy?|
Communicating With Elected Officials
The leaders of our country are elected officials. They are made leaders because people vote for them to do the job. Leaders work for the people. That means that we, the people, must communicate with them about what to do. We must let our elected officials know what we think.
Elected officials listen when people who vote for them talk.
They want and need to hear from you. You have the right to
communicate with elected officials who represent you. But
many people do not. Some people feel afraid or do not know
how to tell their elected officials what they think. The information
that follows will help you communicate with your elected officials.
You will find tips for how to:
Why Communicate with Your Elected Officials? There are many reasons to communicate with your elected officials. You may want to:
write a letter pay a visit make a phone call speak at a meeting
But even before you can think of a reason to write, visit, or call your elected officials, you must be informed about what they are doing.
thank them for something they have done. ask them to take some sort of action. let them know how you feel about concerns such as education, crime, taxes or the environment.
Being an informed citizen is always important. It is important for making an informed vote. And, it is important for keeping track of the legislative process. The tips in Part One about making an informed vote can also help you stay informed about what your elected officials are doing now. Remember:
Letters It has been said that the only letter that has no impact is the one that is not written. One of the best ways to let elected officials know what you think is to write a letter. Elected officials can be influenced by peoples' feelings, thoughts and stories. The following tips will help you write your own letter.
Think about what matters to you. Find out what your elected officials are doing about these concerns. Look in newspapers and magazines. Listen to news shows on the radio and TV. Attend meetings where officials speak or work, such as school board meetings, and other town meetings. Talk to other informed citizens.
Make sure your letter is easy to read. You can write it by hand or type it.
Write the greeting of the letter.
Get right to the point.
In the first few sentences, say
Stick to one issue per letter.
For example, you may write:
Support your point.
Use the rest of the letter to tell your thoughts, story, and/or ideas. Make the letter personal to you.
Tell the elected official what you would like him or her to do. For example, if you are writing about a bill, say if you want your elected official to vote for or against it.
Do not preach or scold.
Keep it short
Limit your letter to one page.
If you are writing about a bill, know the facts.
If you are writing about a national bill, know the number of it and where it is in Congress. If the bill is in the United States House of Representatives it is called a House bill and has a number like this: HR 1234. If the bill is in the United States Senate it is called a Senate bill and has a number like this: S.1234. To find out where a national bill is in the legislative process, call the Bill Status Office: (202) 225-1772.
If you are writing about a state bill, find out where it is in the Ohio General Assembly. If the bill is in the Ohio House of Representatives, it will be called by a number like this: HB: 1234. If the bill is in the Ohio Senate, it will be called by a number like this: SB: 1234. To find out where a state bill is in the legislative process in Ohio, call Ohio Legislative Information: 1-800-282-0253.
Source: "Questions to Ask", Voluntary Action Center, United Way of Mass. Bay
Know the name and address of the elected official to whom you want to write.
The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable (full name)If you have any questions about where to send your letter, call Legislative Information: 1-800-688-9889, ext. 9.
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable (full name)
Senate Office Building
Columbus, OH 43215-4211
The Honorable (full name)If you have any questions about where to send your letter in Ohio, call Legislative Information: 1-800-282-0253.
Ohio House of Representatives
77 S. High Street
Columbus, OH 43266-0603
For information that will help you contact the elected officials in your city or town, check your telephone book.
The Honorable John Doe
Dear Senator Doe,
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
Setting up the meeting
Call the elected official's office to set up a meeting time. If you are not able to meet with the elected official in person, you should get a chance to meet with a person who works for her or him This staff person will let the elected official know what you said.
To find the phone number of the elected official that you want to meet with, call Legislative Information:
For national elected officials:
1-800-688-9889 ext. 9
For Ohio elected officials:
For elected officials in your city and town, check your telephone book.
Before you go...
Make sure the elected official you will be meeting with knows why you want to meet. You can tell the person you speak with on the telephone to set up the meeting why you want to talk to the official. Also, let the elected official know who will be at the meeting. If you are going with other people, let the elected official know their names.
At the meeting...
After the meeting...
Before you go..
During your speech...
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