As we all know, turnout is crucial this fall. We cannot afford another 2010 and we absolutely cannot afford to have the Senate dominated by Republicans. So, this is the first diary in a series to help spur more turnout. I welcome networking, ideas, success and failure stores, selfies and anything else people want to share.
We are very fortunate that our first guest writer is our very own Eclectablog who as we know is quite an experienced political activist. These are the steps that he recommends to build very grassroots infrastructure for precincts in your area. For more about his experience and recommendations for gotv, please see below the fold.
1. Pick reasonably sized chunks of your county for a team to be responsible for. It should be a challenge but not so intimidating that it freaks people out and demotivates them.
2. Make it easy for them to organize. Help them with premade documents, training, and one-on-one coaching. The stuff our group created looked a lot like the stuff we got from OFA because, why wouldn't it? It WORKED!
3. Make sure the teams all meet together as a group from time to time to share ideas, socialize, and have some fun. This is so important because it lets groups know they are part of something bigger and that they aren't alone.
4. Always recognize that a personal contact is orders of magnitude more effective than anything you will ever do online. In person contact is best, on the phone is next. Anything else barely registers.
ACTIONS of the month. One of the features I plan to offer are simple action steps that are easy for people to do that will really help. To paraphrase the Godfather, vote and you'll feel better!.
IN THE FLESH ACTIVISM: Please consider calling the campaign office for a candidate you admire and support. Someone who inspires you. Someone who gives you hope for the future as you watch your kids, your grandkids, your friends and other loved ones. Make the call and see what you can do.
HOUSE MEETING IN A BOX. If you want a template of the House meeting in a box as explained by Eclecablog, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
VIRTUAL VOTEGETTER: Please repost this link from Rock the Vote in as many places as possible. It has state by state info on how to register online, how to confirm that registration and how to vote absentee. Absentee voting could, of course be crucial in areas like Ohio that are trying to suppress the vote. And it is important to note this from, of all places, the Florida page about absentee voting. "A person does not have to be absent from his or her county of residence or have another reason to vote absentee." Please of course check your own state regulations. http://www.rockthevote.com/....
And this is a link to the second diary in the series. Obviously schools are going on summer break, so for now, please consider volunteering for voter registration drives through your local Democratic party. I am planning for our next diary which may be about how to help register folks at farmer's markets..."Would you like a vote with that vegetable?" http://www.dailykos.com/...
MORE FROM ECLECTABLOG ON GOTV:
I often say that my first experience with political organizing came from my work with the 2008 Obama campaign. Certainly that was where I learned the nuts and bolts about voter outreach and the strategic use of data to target likely supporters to ensure they go to the polls on Election Day. But the truth is, the core of what I learned about grassroots political activism and organizing I learned when I cofounded a neighborhood association in a small but well-established neighborhood in East Lansing, Michigan.
Our neighborhood association wasn’t the standard type where they make rules about what color you can paint your front door or how long your grass can grow. We were more of a service group, working to make our community a better place. We worked on the homes of the elderly and handicapped folks in our neighborhood. We always sponsored a "Christmas in April" home. And, blessed with a small building that functioned as a community center, we created a summer recreation program that we financed with grants that we wrote and staffed with volunteers from the neighborhood.
Everything that we did required getting the support of a critical mass of our neighbors. To get that, we went door-to-door and talked to them about our efforts. We had organizational meetings where people met and discussed ideas. We even had a neighborhood newsletter that we used to get the word out.
Every single component of what we did revolved around person-to-person contact. So, when the Obama for America (OFA) campaign recruited me to be an organizer and laid out their model for getting out the vote (GOTV), it was something I already knew worked.
Unfortunately, our side, the Democratic Party, hasn't done a very good job of creating a sustainable infrastructure of grassroots organizers at the local level in most places. We exalt our Precinct Delegates and recruit with vigor to fill all of our Precinct Delegate slots. But, too often, that's where our efforts end. It's a shame, too, because the "job description" for a Precinct Delegate matches up almost one-to-one with the description of an OFA Neighborhood Team Leader, the core grassroots volunteers of OFA's model.
After 2008, I and some other local OFA volunteer organizers set out to try to fix that by recreating the OFA model of local teams of volunteers being responsible for a small, bite-sized pieces of our county. In 2010, two of us became the co-Vice Chairs for Precinct Organizing of our local County Democratic Party which gave us access to some helpful resources. It has taken some time but we are now fully engaged. We began organizing for this year's election in February of 2013. Between February and June of 2013 we held three organizational meetings at different locations around the county. Then we held three more countywide trainings in the fall of 2013 with the goal of getting two to three dozen local teams up and running around the county ready for canvassing and phonebanking starting in the spring of 2014.
Our Precinct Organizing Committee created a package of documents we call the "House Meeting in a Box" to help people have their first organizational house meeting to recruit others in their area. The House Meeting in a Box included check-in sheets, example agendas, helpful hints on promoting your meeting, contact information for people in the County Party who could help, and even instructions on how to obtain a call list of likely Democrats to recruit from.
The idea has been to make it as easy as possible for local teams to get set up and running. Once the local campaigns ramp up in a serious way, we will have created a network of folks all around the county to knock doors, make calls, do voter registration, help with absentee ballot follow-up, and all of the other things campaigns rely on volunteers to do.
Our process has been ongoing for over a year now so we're further down the path than many Democratic Party clubs or County Party organizations. But that doesn't mean it's too late to start.
You may or may not have the ability to organize an area as large as your whole county like we are doing. Don't worry about that. Start now by taking responsibility for a bite-sized chunk of your community, get some other like-minded friends and neighbors on board, and start the process of meeting regularly. Maybe you start by having a discussion group to talk about the issues. Invite local candidates to speak to your group. Have an informational forum (don't forget to promote the heck out of it and gather contact information from everyone who comes!) The idea is to have a group of several people who are willing to do some work and will help hold each other accountable.
Then, as the campaigns heat up in earnest, particularly after the primary election, your favorite candidates can help provide you with the resources and direction you need to get out the vote. In general, we're not out there trying to convince people on the issues or candidates. We're out to make sure our supporters get to the polls. If we do that, more often than not, we win.