How to File a Letter of Complaint to a Congressman

Members of Congress are elected to speak for their constituents.
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You do not need a special form to file a letter of complaint with your congressional representative. Anyone can make a complaint; you merely state your complaint in a brief, direct, matter-of-fact letter and address it to the senator or representative for your state. While there isn't a formal method of filing, there are a few guidelines you should follow that will help lend weight to your complaint and get it in the hands of the intended recipient.

Visit the Senate or House of Representative website to find the names and addresses of the senators from your state or representative from your district, in order to properly direct your complaint.

Include your name and return address at the top of the letter, whether you are mailing it or faxing it. This will both provide a way for your legislator to respond to your complaint, and show you are a constituent residing in the state or local district.

Use the proper form of address. Letters to senators are addressed to "Senator John Doe," while letters to House members are addressed to "The Honorable (or Representative) Jane Doe."

Get right to the point. State your complaint clearly and briefly. Letters are best kept to one page. If you are an expert on the subject, include your credentials. If you have any evidence to support your claim, mention it.

Ensure your letter is legible. If your handwriting is poor or difficult to decipher, type the letter and print it out. Your complaint will have little impact if your congressperson can't read it.

Keep it timely. If your complaint is about a bill that is up for debate, send your letter while the bill is still being considered and while your legislator can actually act on your complaint. If the bill has already been voted on or moved to a different committee, the window of effectiveness has passed.

Be polite. Antagonistic, rude or disrespectful language will not help you get your point across. Instead, it will likely ensure that your letter is not taken seriously.

Mail or fax your completed letter to the legislator or legislators of your choice.

Jill Kokemuller has been writing since 2010, with work published in the "Daily Gate City." She spent six years working in a private boarding school, where her focus was English, algebra and geometry. Kokemuller is an authorized substitute teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Iowa.