Why Legislative Advocacy Matters – and How to do it Effectively

Priya Elangovan | Mar 10, 2022


35 states have finalized their new Congressional and state legislative maps, following redistricting from the 2020 census. Redistricting is a process that happens every 10 years where every state redraws the boundaries of its Congressional and state legislative districts. Every state has a different redistricting process, with some states using maps drawn by the state legislature, and others by various commissions both partisan and non-partisan. While most of the news around redistricting has focused on the Congressional maps, as a voter you might find that you also have a new state representative or senator. Take a couple of minutes to search for the new maps and see if your district has changed, and use this opportunity to get to know your new representatives and get involved with legislative advocacy.

While it may seem like contacting your representatives doesn’t accomplish much, a study from the Congressional Management Foundation suggests otherwise. The CMF found that 91% of Congressional staffers say that getting information or data on how a bill will impact the state or district would be helpful, but they only get that information 9% of the time. Similarly, 78% say that getting personal stories would be helpful, but only receive that info 18% of the time.

Recent All in Together research found a decrease in engagement with the civic process especially among young voters and young women in particular. Building relationships with representatives and staff is one great way to plug in and increase the effectiveness of your advocacy. Staffers are often in charge of pulling together research and briefing the legislator on different issues, so getting them any information you or your organization has collected can be impactful. This can be easier on the state level since most state representatives have fewer people in their district.

These tips from All In Together show the many meaningful ways voters make the most of advocacy:

  • Use the status of a bill to decide how to tailor an “ask”:
    • If it’s a newly introduced bill, ask your rep to cosponsor it
    • If it’s with a committee for review, ask the committee to move the bill forward or to add an amendment
    • If it’s on the calendar for debate and votes, ask representatives to vote a certain way
  • Include a personal story or information about how the bill will impact your community or state. You can use AIT’s template to draft your message.
  • Include information like the number of the bill you want to discuss, or your zip code to identify yourself as a constituent.

Check out All In Together’s legislative advocacy cheat sheet for more tips!

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