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Citizen Lobbying

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Do's and Don't's of Citizen Lobbying

Personal Visits


  • Make an appointment
  • Dress neatly
  • Introduce yourself
  • Stick to the subject at hand
  • If you don't know something, say so
  • Be honest
  • Know something about the official
  • Be cordial to the assistant
  • Be on time - but be prepared to wait
  • Know the number/name of the bill and something about it
  • Call or write in a summary of the meeting afterwards
  • Thank the public official for the meeting
  • Enjoy your visit - you are one of the few people making change!


  • Be angry
  • Be hostile (I'm a taxpayer!)
  • Threaten (You'll pay for this at the polls!)
  • Be afraid to be assertive
  • Have a lot of material (it will never be read)
  • Lose credibility (it will affect everyone who lobbies on the same subject after you)

Points to Know:

  • Most public officials are happy when their constituents visit - they'll be friendly
  • Public officials want people to like them
  • You pay their salary, they work for you
  • Cultivate a good rapport with the assistant and staff - they can be very helpful

Common Pitfalls - Don't Let Them Throw You!

  • The public official doesn't show up for your appointment
  • The public official is late for your appointment
  • Constant interruptions during your meeting
  • Meeting is cut short
  • Public official doesn't have a copy of the bill/proposal or hasn't read it
  • Public official takes control of the meeting and you never get to make your points
  • Public official asks so many questions that you find it difficult to make your point
  • Opposition walks in while you are talking
  • Public official says things like:
    • "I always hear from the other side, not yours."
    • "I'll have to wait until it comes out of committee."
    • "Don't worry, it'll never come to a vote."
    • "It's a lost cause."
    • "I'm not on that committee."


  • Confirm appointment the morning of the appointment
  • Bring a copy of the bill/proposal with you
  • Know exactly what you want to get from the official (yes or no vote, commitment not to vote, etc.)
  • Prioritize your points (especially important if the meeting is cut short)
  • Know your official's background (voting record, position on the issues, personal history)
  • Try to find a common ground with the legislator
  • Make yourself available as a resource
  • Thank the assistant or staff person
Document: Citizen-Lobbying-handout.pdf  PDF icon

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