Public Consultations in Congressional Districts & States

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8) engages with constituents at a public consultation event on Government Reform.

To give the public a greater voice in the policymaking process and enable Members of Congress to listen to the views of their constituents as a whole, Voice of the People (VOP) partners with the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) to conduct public consultations in states and Congressional districts on legislative proposals pending before Congress.

How Public Consultations Work

Public Consultation Surveys

Large representative samples of constituents go through an online Public Consultation survey called a Policymaking Simulation on a policy proposal pending in Congress. Designed to put citizens in the shoes of a policymaker, constituents are briefed, asked to evaluate pro and con arguments and then register their views.  

Survey findings are revealed to the Member of Congress, local media and constituents, often at Public Consultation forums. 

Public Consultation Forums

VOP, in partnership with the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation – and often with local media and other civic organizations – convene Public Consultation forums where a Member of Congress and constituents who went through the survey participate in a moderated discussion about the topic and the survey findings. These events can be held in-person or virtually.

All Constituents Invited to Engage

In addition to running the survey with a representative sample of constituents, all constituents are invited (through the media and sometimes through online ads) to go through the same Policymaking Simulation so everyone has a chance to learn about the issues and engage – making the process fully transparent.

Policymaking Simulations

Policymaking Simulations are developed  by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland, and have been reviewed by experts on different sides to ensure that the briefings are accurate and balanced, and that the strongest arguments are used. The Program for Public Consultation has developed dozens of Policymaking Simulations and fielded them as surveys nationally with large representative samples. 

What Participants Say About their Public Consultation Experiences
  • 90% said public consultations help policymakers understand their constituents’ views.
  • 90% would encourage others to participate.
  • Nearly 80% said such events can help our country become less polarized.
  • One-third said the process caused them to reconsider their policy stances.
  • Participating Members of Congress expressed very positive views of the process and a readiness to do more.

Examples of Public Consultation Events with Members of Congress

In partnership with local media and other civic organizations, VOP and the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation have convened numerous events – in-person and online – with Members of Congress and their constituents.

Residents of New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District on Energy & The Environment

Media Coverage