NCSF on Twitter   Subscribe to the NCSF RSS Feed   NCSF Blog

Tips on Meeting with Elected Officials

Our legislators work for us. They want to know what we think about issues on the local, state, and national level. You can always write letters and should but actually meeting with your elected official is easier than you think.

 

Our legislators work for us. They want to know what we think about issues on the local, state, and national level. You can always write letters and should but actually meeting with your elected official is easier than you think.

 

What is a lobby visit?

 

A lobby visit is a meeting where you tell your elected representative what you think about a certain issue or bill. Whether it is a City Council Member or your Congressional Representative, as one of their constituents you can ask them to take action on an issue or legislation.

You can find the office of your local and national elected officials in your area. Some Members of Congress have more than one office in their congressional district, and permanent staff members are usually available for you to meet with.

 

Requesting Your Meeting

 

Make your request in writing and follow up with a call to the Appointment Secretary/Scheduler.

 

Suggest specific times and dates for your meeting

 

Let them know what issue or legislation you wish to discuss.

 

Make sure they know that you are a constituent.

    Prepare for Your Meeting

     

    Contact the NCSF to help you decide on your talking points, and get information that you can leave with your elected official.

     

    Decide who will attend the meeting. Bringing more than four or five people can be hard to manage

     

    Agree on talking points. Your goal is to make a strong case for your position, so don't disagree in the meeting. If a point is causing tension in the group, leave it out

     

    Plan out your meeting keeping in mind that time is limited. Decide who will start the conversation, and which points each person will make

     

    Decide what you want achieve. Do you want your elected official to vote for or against a bill? Do you want them to support your issue or oppose a restrictive ordinance? Ask them to do something specific.

     

    During the Meeting

     

    Be prompt and patient. Elected officials run on very tight schedules.

     

    Keep it short and focused. You will have twenty minutes or less with a staff person, and as little as ten minutes if you meet with your elected official. Stick to your talking points.

     

    Know your elected official's record on similar issues or legislation. Begin by thanking them for voting in support of your issues, and for taking the time to meet with you.

     

    Leave only a few pages of information that contain your main points. Include your contact information.

     

    Provide concise personal and local examples of the impact of the legislation or issue. This is the most important thing you can do in a lobby visit.

     

    You don't need all of the information on an issue. If you don't know the answer to a question, it is fine to tell the elected official that you will get that information. This gives you the chance to contact them again about the issue.

     

    Set deadlines for a response. You sometimes won't get a definitive answer at the meeting. Ask when you should check back in to find out what your elected official intends to do about your request. If you need to get information to them, set a date for when this will happen.

      After the Meeting

       

      Right after the meeting, compare notes with everyone in your group to confirm what the elected official committed to do and what follow up information you committed to send.

       

      One of you should promptly send a thank you letter for meeting with you.

       

      Follow up immediately with any requested materials and information.

       

      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, polite, and flexible.

       

      Let NCSF know what you learned during your meeting by e-mailing: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

       

      Meeting with your elected officials is the best way to demonstrate that there is a constituency for civil liberties in your district. It's easy to make a difference.

       

      Links

       

      E the People
      Access to over 170,000 government officials in 9,800 towns and cities. Write a letter, start a petition, research election candidates and more!
       
      Project Vote Smart
      Biographical details and contact information for over 13,000 candidates and elected officials
       
      Write Your Representative
      From the U.S. House of Representatives website
       
      U.S. House of Representatives
      Full contact information for our Congressmen
       
      U.S. Senate
      Full contact information for our Senators
      Sign up for the NCSF Newsletter

      JOIN Now - Become a NCSF Member!

      ACT Now - Get Involved!

      GIVE Now - Support NCSF and the NCSF Foundation!

      Why You Should Care

      Because your sexual expression...
      • Can result in discrimination, prosecution, and even violence against you
      • Can cause you to lose your children
      • Can cause you to lose your job or your income
      • Can lead you into a maze of antiquated laws and regulations you never even knew existed
      • Is arbitrarily criminalized by state and local authorities
      • Is used by the radical right to marginalize minority groups
      • Can result in the invasion of your privacy by the government, both within your own home or in educational, social and group environments 

      How You Can Help

        • Work to change antiquated laws
        • Work to change the social climate about sexual issues
        • Promote acceptance of safe, sane, and consensual alternative sexual practices among consenting adults
        • Oppose censorship of consensual sexual expression
        • Fight for freedom of academic expression about sexual issues
        • Help communities and individuals facing the threat of prosecution or legal action
        • Support the right of adults to express their sexuality, gender identity and orientation freely and openly without fear
        • Learn more about NCSF