Indivisible States: District Office Visits

Not all legislatures have district offices, but if yours does, this can be a powerful way to make your voice heard without having to travel to the state capitol. These are public offices, open for anybody to visit — you don’t need an appointment, but you could decide to make one ahead of time. You can take advantage of this to stage an impromptu town hall meeting by showing up with a small group. It is harder to ignore someone in person.

Before the Meeting

  • Schedule your meeting. First, you should look up the location of your local district office. Contact the office to schedule the meeting ahead of time or just find a time that works for your members. In some states, legislators have pre-determined times where they will be home in district (e.g. Fridays, Mondays, or during recess). If you try to schedule your meeting when they are home, you may have the opportunity to meet with your legislator in person.

  • Recruit members from your group to attend the meeting. Try to work in partnership with other organizations and activists to form a coalition that would support your goals and legislation. Also, coordinate with other local indivisible groups, local activists and marginalized communities. It is important to follow the lead of impacted groups to mitigate harm and exclusion.

  • Make an agenda before you go to your meeting.

    • Be prepared with knowledge about the bills you want to discuss and the impact of these different bills on own community. Research your legislator’s positions on different issue areas and any past votes on the bill or related bills.

    • Prepare stories about how these policies would affect you and others in your community.

    • Assign a member of your group to prepare and address each talking point or story. Also assign a timekeeper and a notetaker. Divvying up roles helps make the meeting flow smoothly and involve everyone in attendance.

    • Prepare a brief one- or two-page summary memo to leave behind. If this is your first meeting, include notes on who you are, what you do, and why the topics you discussed in the meeting are important to you.  Include your desired outcome and clearly state a detailed ask!

During the Meeting

  • Introduce yourselves. Thank the legislator or staff person for meeting with you and then ask each person in attendance to introduce themselves.

  • Share your talking points. Have a few people address topics, rather than one or two group leaders.

  • Share stories about how your representatives decision impacts you or someone in your group personally.

  • Don’t settle for non-answers. If you are not getting responses be firm but polite. Remember: your goal is to talk about the issue and share your concerns.

  • Take notes. Don’t expect your representative or their staff to do this.

  • Leave behind your prepared summary to give a good impression and remind the legislator that you  came prepared for the meeting.

  • Document your meeting with video or pictures. Record it or it didn’t happen. Get a picture of your group at the office. Even better yet, get a video of your group before, during, and/or after. Bottom line, your voice will be louder and better heard if you get documented evidence.

After the Meeting

  • Post your takeaways from the meeting on social media and tag your legislator. Tag @IndivisibleTeam on twitter so we can amplify your work.

  • Follow up a few days after the meeting by emailing the person who you met with. Ask specific questions about next steps and the decision on your ask. Call the office to follow up and again remember to be firm in getting an actual answer.