Adapted from Indivisible.org.
Letters to the editor can have a big impact in educating voters on the issues and getting a member of Congress to change a stance. Here’s why:
- Members of Congress are likely see a letter in the morning “clips,” which is a daily email with links to all of the stories that mention the member of Congress by name. In most elected officials’ offices, the clips include letters to the editor. A letter that mentions a member of Congress will definitely be noticed and discussed by that member’s staff, who review the morning “clips.”
- Editorial boards are important local institutions for members of Congress. Newspaper editors see every letter, and members of Congress care what newspaper editors think. Editors interview and endorse candidates during campaign season, and their opinions carry lots of weight throughout the year. Even if your letter is not published, the newspaper’s editor has added your topic to the list of issues the newspaper’s audience cares about.
- Seniors read letters to the editor, and members of Congress care what seniors think because they vote, so members of Congress are very concerned about what seniors think.
Where and how to submit a letter to the editor.
Ranked in order of importance to our area, the newspapers are:
- Kitsap Sun – Send letters by filling in the form here. Letters should be 250 words or shorter, neatly typewritten. The Kitsap Sun reserves the right to reject, edit or condense all letters. Mass submissions are not accepted, and writers are generally limited to one letter a month. All letters must include the writer’s first and last names and (for our verification) address and daytime phone number.
- Sound Publishing – prints 49 publications in Washington state. Many are in our area (thinking CD 6) but not all have a letter to the editor section. Here are the ones that accept letters to the editor. Limit your text to 250 words or less.
- Bainbridge Island Review (printed every Friday, plus online) – Fill in this form.
- Sequim Gazette – Fill in the form here and choose “Sequim Gazette” from the Publication menu.
- Peninsula Daily News (Port Angeles, printed daily, plus online) – Fill in the form here and choose “Peninsula Daily News” from the Publication menu.
- Kitsap Daily News – (online only) Fill in the form here. Select “Kitsap Daily News” from the “Publication” menu.
- The Seattle Times – Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your full name, address and telephone number for verification only. Letters are limited to 200 words.
- The Tacoma News Tribune – Fill in this form. Letters should be limited to 200 words; those less than 150 words will be given priority. Plus, follow their guidelines.
- The Daily World (Aberdeen) – Has a letter to the editor section, but it’s not clear how to send a letter. Possibly send to the editor, Doug Barker: email@example.com. They print very long letters to the editor.
Submit to smaller local papers, not just the nearest big city paper. You’ll have a better chance of getting published. And, it maximizes that feeling that voters are paying attention.
Consider the area the newspaper covers when thinking about what to submit. For example,
- Send letters that mention the work of Rep. Kilmer, state reps., Tarra Simmons and Drew Hansen, state senators Christine Rolfes and Emily Randall (who no doubt will face a tough re-election in 2022 in LD-26) to the Kitsap Sun.
- Send letters that mention our senators and/or Rep. Kilmer to the Kitsap Sun, the newspapers published by Sound Publishing, the Tacoma News Tribune and The Daily Word.
- Send letters that mention our senators names and the names of Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Suzan DelBene, Adam Smith, and/or Marilyn Stickland to the Seattle Times and the Tacoma News Tribune.
What should your letter be about?
Here are some ideas:
- Getting vaccinated, voting rights, saving our democracy, support for infrastructure and good things our Democratic members of Congress or our state legislature have done or what they should work on.
- Find out what our members of Congress have been working on and relate that to our area.
- Check the press sections of our members of Congress’ websites (Sen. Murray, Sen. Cantwell and Rep. Kilmer) for bills they have introduced or are working on.
- Check Congress.gov to see what they’ve introduced or co-sponsored, and relate that bill to our local area. For example:
- Call their offices and ask what the elected official’s top priorities are (phone numbers here).
- Read the online versions of the paper – especially the Letters to the Editor – and respond quickly to any nonsense you see there.
Once you’ve got a topic, write your letter!
Writing your letter
Here are some basic guidelines from Indivisible.org:
- Focus on one topic. If you have two, write a second letter.
- Obey word count limits. If your letter gets long, write a second letter.
- Be clear and concise—you only have around 200 words or less to make your point.
- Be yourself. You don’t need to talk like an academic or a policy expert. Remember, you’re a smart, passionate constituent who’s paying attention, one who other constituents might identify with—and that’s the most powerful thing you can be.
Now is the time to write letters to the editor. People are forming their opinions by what they see now. Don’t wait until campaign season. In fact, one of the papers researched for this topic said they ignore political letters during campaign season. So let’s start writing now!