Thank you for taking the initiative to contact your legislator. Writing a letter to your State Senator or Representative is extremely important and effective. People who think members of Congress pay little or no attention to constituent mail are plain wrong. Concise, well thought out personal letters are one of the most effective ways South Carolinians have of influencing law-makers.
Below are step-by-step directions on how to write, or snail-mail, your congressman or representative:
Find your legislator. Click here to use the South Carolina Legislative Services Agency's search engine, providing your registered mailing address.
Once the list of your legislators are provided to you, select either your South Carolina State Senator or South Carolina State Representative to identify your legislator's Columbia office address. For an example, click here.
Write! For an example of what to write, click here.
Your letter should address a single topic or issue. Typed, one-page letters are best.
- Say why you are writing and who you are. List your "credentials." (If you want a response, you must include your name and address, even when using email.)
- Provide more detail. Be factual not emotional. Provide specific rather than general information about how the topic affects you and others. If a certain bill is involved, cite the correct title or number whenever possible.
- Close by requesting the action you want taken: a vote for or against a bill, or change in general policy.
The best letters are courteous, to the point, and include specific supporting examples.
Below are some key things to keep in mind when writing to your elected representatives:
- Be courteous and respectful without "gushing."
- Clearly and simply state the purpose of your letter. If it's about a certain bill, identify it correctly.
- Say who you are. Anonymous letters go nowhere. Even in email, include your correct name, address, phone number and email address. If you don't include at least your name and address, you will not get a response.
- State any professional credentials or personal experience you may have, especially those pertaining to the subject of your letter.
- Keep your letter short -- one page is best.
- Use specific examples or evidence to support your position.
- State what it is you want done or recommend a course of action.
- Thank the member for taking the time to read your letter.
- Use vulgarity, profanity, or threats. The first two are just plain rude and the third one can get you a visit from law enforcement. Simply stated, don't let your passion get in the way of making your point,
- Fail to include your name and address, even in email letters.
- Demand a response.