- Step 1
Register to vote
Here's the truth: lawmakers at the Capitol in St. Paul and at the Federal Capitol in Washington D.C. are in the process of shaping your future. The decisions they make will profoundly affect your life and the lives of those you care about. Why not have a say in that process? Vote. Soapbox moment over. Register to vote at your current address and vote in every election.
- Step 2
Join the Legislative Action Network
Free membership allows you to receive the latest updates on what's happening at the Capitol in St. Paul and in Washington, D.C. and how it affects the University of Minnesota. Read the updates. Feel the joy of expanding your legislative knowledge.
- Step 3
Find your representatives
Think of these individuals as your friends. They are working hard to improve the quality of life in your community. Find out who represents you at the Capitol in St. Paul and in Washington, D.C.
- Step 4
Watch for action alerts
Starting around the first of the year, stay tuned for action alerts sent by the Legislative Action Network. These alerts make it easy to take action on important legislative issues in a timely manner. When you get an action alert, drop everything and take action! It just takes a few minutes to tell your story and make a difference.
- Step 5
In between action alerts, build a relationship with your local legislators. Elected officials count on their constituents to let them know what is important in their communities. Building relationships with your elected officials is a great way to influence the legislative process and to promote the University of Minnesota.
Tips on building relationships
Written Communication (Letter/Postcard/Email)
A thoughtful letter illustrating a personal story often makes a great impression.
- Use correct titles and names for the elected official.
- State your purpose in the first paragraph. If your letter pertains to a piece of legislation, identify it. Keep your letter to a single page.
- Explain why you support or oppose the issue. Try to use local examples.
- Keep the tone positive and courteous.
- Indicate that you would appreciate a reply containing the legislator's position on the issue.
- Follow up. If you agree or disagree with their position or the vote they cast, let them know.
Tweeting legislators is a surprisingly effective method of communication.
- Find the Twitter handles of your elected officials and tag them to say hello, share your opinion, or ask a question.
- Think about including any relevant hashtags that may be available.
- And don't forget that a positive and courteous tone applies to social media too.
Keep in mind phone calls are often answered by staff members or aides.
- Ask to speak with the legislative aide who handles your issue. If they are not available, you may leave a message. If you speak with someone other than your elected official, take down her/his name and title.
- Identify yourself by name and the organization you represent or town you're calling from.
- Say why you are calling. Focus on one or two points. Ask your legislator for his/her position on this issue. Don't assume that your legislator has knowledge of it. Be respectful. Be prepared to give local examples.
- Request a written response to your phone call if you did not speak directly with your elected official. If the legislator needs more information, provide it as soon as possible.
- Thank the person who took the phone call for their time and consideration.
In Person Meeting
- To request a meeting, call the office of the elected official. State that you are a constituent, give several dates and times you are available, and indicate what you want to discuss.
- Arrive 5-10 minutes early.
- Plan for a brief meeting. Most last no more than 15-20 minutes.
- Thank the person for their time.
- As a follow-up, send a thank you to the elected official and her/his staff.
- Restate your understanding of their position to reiterate any support they may have expressed for your issue or cause. Answer any questions they had that you did not get to address in person. If the meeting outcome was inconclusive, this is your opportunity to address the issue again.
Letter to the Editor
The opinion page is a widely read section of the newspaper. Letters to the editor are often saved by elected officials and can indicate to opinion leaders that an issue is on the public's mind. Even a few letters throughout Minnesota can spur increased news coverage and renewed attention.
Your story is a powerful way to bring to life your support for the University of Minnesota. Feel free to mention the broad importance of the U of M, but be sure to talk about your personal connection as well.