Research: Congressional town halls signal and support effective lawmaking

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As Members of Congress depart Washington, D.C. for the August recess, many will meet with their constituents face-to-face in town hall meetings. These gatherings, in locations such as local diners or high school auditoriums, provide constituents with the opportunities to hear from their Representatives and Senators directly, and to likewise raise their most pressing policy concerns. 

It takes a lot of time and resources to ensure that these events work well for everyone involved. Under the best circumstances, they provide opportunities for meaningful civic engagement and an enhanced understanding of the policymaking process. Alternatively, they can devolve into shouting matches that provide little more than provocative clickbait on YouTube. Given the time and effort needed to convene these forums, it is natural to think that those Representatives and Senators who frequently hold town halls do so at the expense of focusing their energies on other important policymaking activities.

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