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Meeting With Your Representative

When you meet with your representative or the representative’s staff, talk about the importance of public funding of elections, and ask that she or he signs on as a co-sponsor to the Fair Elections Now Act.

While it can be daunting to think of discussing issues you care about with members of Congress, it’s important to remember that they work for you!

Tips for Meeting with your representative:

Get your contacts. Call either your representative’s district office nearest you or the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be connected with your representative’s Capitol Hill office. Ask for the name of the in-district scheduler, and ask also for the appropriate fax number or email and format to use to submit a request.

Request a meeting. Send the scheduler a copy of your request for a meeting via fax and/or email. Include information on who will attend the meeting, what groups you are affiliated with, which issues you’d like to discuss, and when you would be available to meet (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are usually the best days). The next day, follow up with a call to the district office. Many of you are veterans of public citizenry and know that getting a meeting can sometimes be a long and arduous process with staffers giving you the run-around. Be persistent yet polite, and make it clear that YOU, the member’s constituent, should be heard. Don’t give up even if you are told that “the Representative has no time to meet with your delegation” and even if they don’t return your phone calls - it does pay off in the long run and in most cases you will eventually be able to sit down with your representative.

Get your coalition together. The more constituents your delegation represents – in terms of labor leaders, religious leaders, and well-known community organizations, the more likely your request will be received and the more likely your visit will influence your member’s vote. If you’d like to know of other individuals or groups active in your district or state who may want to join you, ask us at action@citizen.org. However, keep the meeting small – bringing more than four or five people can be hard to manage.

Prepare. Be sure to have a phone call or in-person meeting with your coalition before the meeting, to prep speakers, get on the same page, practice talking points, and divide up issues. If you don’t know the answer, offer to look into the question and get back to the senator (this is also an excellent opportunity to stay in touch).

Build the relationship. If your representative has supported your or your coalition’s positions in the past, be sure to thank him/her – this is a good way to begin a meeting.

Ask for something specific. Ask your representative to co-sponsor the Fair Elections Now Act or publicly announce support for the bill.

Take notes. Jot down your impressions right after the meeting (don’t distract by taking notes during the meeting). Compare notes with everyone in your group to understand what the elected official committed to do and the follow up information you committed to send

Follow up. You should send a thank you note after the meeting. This is also a good way to remind your representative of the views you expressed. If commitments were made during the meeting, repeat your understanding of them.
If the elected official or staff member doesn't meet the deadline for action you agreed to during the meeting, ask him or her to set another deadline. Be persistent and flexible!

If you are meeting with your representative, let us know before you meet and we will rehearse your visit with you over the phone. We’re here to help you have the best visit possible, and to be used as a resource. Additionally, please contact us and tell us what you learned during your meeting by sending an e-mail to action@citizen.org. Knowing what arguments were used, what issues are important to him or her, and what positions he or she took will help us make our national lobbying strategy more effective!

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