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I'm cheap. I'll admit it. And I'd rather give my money to a charity or a GOTV campaign than to AT&T. But we need to phone bank. A lot. I don't think that anyone on this site needs to be reminded of that. I'm writing a brief tutorial on how to use Google Voice to phone bank and get out the vote. For free!

First, the things you'll need for this project:

  • A computer, with an internet connection (duh!)
  • A modern browser, such as Safari, Firefox, Chrome or even Internet Explorer 8+

You'd also do well to have a headset with mic. Making sure that they work with your system is beyond the scope of this post, but once you get them working with your computer, they'll come in very handy.

Now, I'm going to walk you through the somewhat convoluted process of setting up a new Google Voice account and connecting it with your Gmail account. Do this even if you've already got a Google Voice account so that you don't have to give your number to hundreds (if you're a dedicated phone banker!) of strangers. If you're comfortable with others having your number, then just skip to the end when we use the web to dial our numbers. You'll need the GV-to-Gmail connection working properly so that you can use Gmail's interface to dial your calls.

First, go to Google Voice and make sure that you log out of your current Google account if you're logged in.

Next, create your account:

Give GV your zip code and choose a PIN:

Next, you'll be asked to give GV the phone number of an actual phone to call. I think you can choose to have it just be a "voicemail number" so you don't need to provide this information. Maybe someone in the comments can let us know.

If you have Google Voice associated with your current phone, you'll be asked to "reclaim your phone". This will detach your other Google Voice number from your phone for the time being.

Now, the part where you connect your GV number to your Gmail account. Go to Gmail and click "Create Account". You'll be greeted with the following page. Make sure that you log in using the creditentials you used to create your new GV account!

After verifying your information, you'll be taken to your newly created GOTV Gmail account. You will see a link to "Call" in the left sidebar. If you've never used GV in your browser, you'll see it and clicking will prompt you to install a plugin. Do that.

After the plugin is installed, clicking that link will give you this box:

This is your dialer and where the magic can take place.

That's the hard part. Now, it's as easy as going to your favorite phone banking site like OFA. Click on the "Call Voters" link and you'll get your script (make sure you're logged in if you want to get "credit" for making these calls).

Now, in a new window, not a tab in your current window because it gets very cumbersome, go to GV. You may need to log in. Click on the above link for the call window and get dialing and GOTV!

This is my layout, with 2 browser windows open side by side.

I have a nice wide monitor, so it's easy for me to do. I think you'll be able to get manage with a smaller screen. :) I copy the number I'm supposed to call from the window on the left and just paste it into the dialer window on the right. The call gets placed and I can use my headset to talk. Easy after the initial set up, free and convenient since I need to be sitting in front of my computer to phone bank anyway.

I hope this helps someone. I probably should have been phone banking rather than taking the time to write this post but I don't really like being on the phone...

I hope to make series of diary on using the technology OFA is providing us to GOTV. This is my first entry. Let me know what you think!

Originally posted to torifile on Fri Oct 08, 2010 at 08:57 AM PDT.

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