Every year, registered voters* cast ballots to select people to represent us in our government. Those who are elected are called “elected officials.”
Depending on the year, voters may be voting for local officials (selectmen, councilors, mayors, board of education members, etc.), state officials (state representatives, state senator, the governor, etc.), or federal officials (congresspeople, the president, etc.). Elected officials are responsible for acting on behalf of their constituents and making decisions based on what their constituents want to see changed. We can tell our elected officials what issues we care about by writing them letters!
*Do you know the requirements to be able to vote in the United States? You must be a citizen, 18 years old or older, and a resident of the state in which you will vote.
What are constituents? Am I a constituent?
Constituents are the people that an elected official represents. For example, the Governor’s constituents are the people of their state and the Kid Governor’s constituents are the kids of their state! An elected official represents all people, even those who are not registered to vote and those who may not be old enough to vote. This includes kids like you!
Who are my elected officials?
There are special websites designed to help you find the names of your elected officials based on where you live. Some websites will help you find your local elected officials, others will help you find your representatives to your state government, and other will help you find the names of your representatives to the federal (national) government. Some websites will provide a mailing address where you can mail a letter, and other will provide an email address so that you can email your message. Ask an adult to help you explore the websites below!
- USA.gov will help you find your town’s website. On your town’s website, you will find the names of your local elected officials and their contact information.
- Open States will help you find the names of your state representatives and state senators and their contact information based on where you live. You can also find information for statewide officials like the governor and secretary of the state.
- The United States House of Representatives website will help you find your Representatives in Congress.
- The United States Senate website will help you find your Senator.
How can we tell our elected officials what we want them to do and change?
Elected officials rely on us, their constituents, to tell them how they should vote and what issues they should work on during their term in office. One of the best ways to tell and elected official what community issue you care about is to write them a letter!
Here is a sample letter that will help you write your own letter to an elected official. You can fill in the blanks where you see words in [brackets]:
Dear [Mayor/Representative/Senator/Governor] [NAME],
My name is [NAME] and I am a 5th grader at [SCHOOL] in [TOWN]. I live at [ADDRESS] in [TOWN]. I am writing to you today because I am concerned about [ISSUE]. This is an issue that affects me, my family, and my community because [HOW IT AFFECTS YOU]. I believe that this issue is important because [WHY IT IS IMPORTANT]. I hope that you can help me find a solution to this problem in our community, and I hope that you will consider bringing this issue to our [TOWN COUNCIL/STATE LEGISLATURE/CONGRESS].
Thank you very much for your attention to this issue. With your help, I believe that we can find a solution.