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October 22, 2014 | 28th Tishrei 5775

Dos and Don'ts for Your Lobby Day

DOs

1. Review the specific points you intend to make.

2. Get accurate information on the issues. The Religious Action Center can help you in this regard.

3. Display an awareness of the legislator’s past votes on the issue so that he/she will know you are a well-informed voter.

4. Tell the legislator exactly what course of action you would like him/her to take, such as sponsoring or opposing a particular bill, or supporting or opposing a particular action proposed through Administrative regulations.

5. When citing specific legislation, refer to the bill by number and name, such as the “The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2001” (H.R. 74).

6. Tell the legislator why he/she should take the course of action you propose.

7. Put a human face on the problem you are addressing. Use personal illustrations to make the issue come alive. These letters are more likely to be read by the officials and cited by them in explaining the position they take.

8. Use a friendly tone. Threatening the legislator with your vote or influence is apt to alienate him/her.

9. Include your address on the letter itself, not only on the envelope, as these may become separated.

DON’Ts

1. Don’t indicate you are writing because a group asked you to and don’t use sample language that a group sent as a model verbatim. “Form letters” are often discounted and may not be answered.

2. Don’t cover more than one subject in your letter. If you want to write about more than one issue, do so in separate letters. Single letters dealing with more than one subject are apt to be set aside or delayed within the receiving office.

3. Don’t indicate blanket disapproval of the legislator because he/she disagrees with you on one issue. Your correspondence should have a thoughtful tone.

4. Don’t include every argument you know in support of your position. Use those that are most compelling or that you know will appeal to the legislator’s political philosophy.

5. Don’t belabor your point.

6. Don’t send duplicates of the same letter to different legislators to save time. Your letters should be as personalized as possible.

7. Don’t make offensive comments about the legislator or his/her staff (“I hope this letter makes it past your secretary.”).

8. Don’t apologize for writing (“I’m sorry to take up your valuable time.”).

9. Don’t forget to write a follow-up letter when you receive your legislator’s response, even if it sounds like a form letter. Follow-up letters get even more attention.

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