Why You Should Attend a Town Hall Meeting This SummerAugust 06, 2012
The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.
In high school, one of my favorite TV shows was Gilmore Girls. I loved following the fast-talking mother-daughter duo of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore as they dealt with all the niceties and oddities of small-town life. One of the fixtures in their fictional home of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, was the town meeting. Run by the town selectman, the meeting was a forum for people to air their grievances and take votes on major town matters. In many respects, the Stars Hollow town meeting was democracy — and comedy — at its finest. Setting aside the ridiculousness of Lorelai’s relationship with diner owner Luke coming up for a vote at a meeting in season five and an amateur skit about Stars Hollow road names circa 1779 in season six, the basic premise of the people holding the town leader accountable and voicing their opinions on major decisions appeals to all of us in towns and cities big and small.
The Stars Hollow town meetings were fictional, but there’s a real version coming to your neighborhood this month.
Your senators and representatives will be in their home districts for the entire month of August to listen to you, their constituents. Many of them will host town hall meetings to talk about their policy positions and take questions on the issues you care about. This is your opportunity to make sure your elected officials are doing their jobs representing you.
AAUW members are spending a lot of time and energy right now encouraging people to turn out on Election Day, and voting is certainly important — check out our It’s My Vote Tumblr to see the personal stories that motivate AAUW members and millennials to vote. But showing up on Election Day is only one part of our civic duty. We also have a responsibility to show up on the other 364 days of the year by telling our elected officials how we feel about pending bills, engaging our communities on important issues, and meeting with our representatives in person when the opportunity is available. In some ways, a town hall meeting is even better than an individual meeting with a representative or her or his staff because your question may prompt the representative to state her or his position on record in a public forum while also educating your neighbors about the issue.
We’ve put together some sample questions and tips for you to make the most of your next town hall meeting. The first step is to find out when and where the meeting will be held. Call your elected officials’ district offices to confirm this information. You can look up your representative and the contact information for the district office on house.gov, and similar information for your senators can be found on senate.gov. Feel free to e-mail us at VoterEd@aauw.org if you have any questions.
Good luck, and don’t forget to tell us how it went! Tweet your representatives’ answers to your questions, and send an e-mail to VoterEd@aauw.org to share your story.Please also share pictures and videos from the event, especially if there’s footage of you asking your question.
Whether you’re a Gilmore Girls fan or not, seize the chance to have your very own Stars Hollow moment — attend a town hall meeting this summer, and ask questions! After all, we’ll never know where our representatives stand if we don’t ask.
This post was written by AAUW Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator Deborah Swerdlow.