What kind of Democrats are the most feared by Republicans? The ones that know the importance of getting out the vote, of course! What could be more dangerous to Republican candidates than liberals and progressives talking about what they are most passionate about, sharing the truth about taxes, civil rights, the environment, etc. and then encouraging people to vote? Even though November 6th is over four months away, now is the time to start thinking about what you can do to help GOTV.
To start, a quick review of the 2 to ways to GOTV. Some organizations are non-partisan, like Rock the Vote or Nonprofit Vote, and their main focus is getting people registered to vote and then to the polls. The other is done by campaigns, and since this is a website dedicated to electing democrats I will focus on getting out the vote for specific candidates.
What are some tasks that make up GOTV? Most involve contacting individuals either through phone banking or canvassing.
Phone banking is the most common and is used to identify potential voters and their intention to vote, raise money, and recruit more volunteers. If you have never done this before, no need to worry! There are scripts to follow, and tips to help make your time successful. Here is a simple example of rules from the Florida Democratic Party:
VOLUNTEER PHONE BANK RULESThis diary, WOW! Simple wording change dramatically increases voter turnout, is crucial to read if you are going to be phone banking. It outlines how simple phrase changes such as changing "It's important for you to vote" to "It's important for you to be a voter" can result in a 10-15% increase in turnout. That is huge, please read this diary!
1. Smile – voters can tell
2. Stick to the script
3. Decide ahead of time if you are going to leave a message on an answering machine.
4. Use a uniform marking system
5. Don’t get into prolonged discussions – move on
6. Allow for five rings
7. Ask to speak to an adult
8. If you get a wrong number, don’t cross the name off. Try to find the correct number.
Canvassing is the face to face version of phone banking. Voters can be identified and persuaded, literature can be shared, volunteers can be recruited, and sometimes money can be raised. The campaign office supplies all of the materials and maps with specific areas, streets or households to contact.
Yale's Institution for Social and Policy Studies GOTV website shares an interesting study that concluded that voting appears to be contagious within a household:
Door-to-door canvassing is found to increase turnout not only in the person directly contacted by the canvassers. In two-member households, the uncontacted member of the households is also mobilized by GOTV canvassing.Some other ways to GOTV are to help work a booth or table at a fair or festival, hold a house party for a candidate, write a letter to the editor, or even simple talk to friends and family. Facebook and Twitter can also be effective tools to share information and persuade people you know. Blogs like this can help mobilize volunteers. If you were here in 2008 I am sure you remember diaries like this GOTV Volunteers Needed - OPEN THREAD.
On election day, getting out the vote can mean driving people to the polls, continuing to call voters to remind them to vote, handing out sample ballots and information near polling locations, and more canvassing.
Wellstone.org has some great information, not only for GOTV, but has loads of information to help "train activists in the nuts and bolts of grassroots organizing, voter engagement, political advocacy, and leadership development."
An important decision to make is how much time you able and willing to spend helping out. Deciding on which candidates to get involved with is a big decision, especially if your time is limited. Being passionate about the candidate is important, but you could also be in a situation where you feel more passionate about your senator, but your congressperson may be in a tougher race and need more help. Obviously there is no wrong answer,and the GOTV effort usually has a positive impact on the entire ticket.
Once you have found an organization to help, the easiest way to get in touch is through their website, using the email or phone number provided. Many times you can even indicate how you want to help before you even contact anyone. For example Bill Foster, the person that I will be supporting for congress in Illinois' 11th distrtict, has the following choices on his "get Involved" page:
I'm willing to:Some of the best information feedback can be found right here, so I did a diary search for GOTV for the month leading up to and the few days following the last presidential election, October 1-November 8 2008, and 967 results were found! Here is just a small sample of success stories and tips. (The last one has a comment section filled with helpful advice and encouragement):
I need an absentee ballot
I would like to early vote
Knock on doors
Place a Sign in My Lawn or Window
Call Other Voters
Host a House Party or Fundraiser
Staff events, fairs, and festivals
Work at Headquarters
Organize my neighborhood or precinct
Write a Letter to the Editor
Jump on our bandwagon and follow I Vote For Democrats by clicking the orange ♥ at the top of this diary. Or better yet, write a diary about why YOU vote for Democrats and help us remind people of what is at stake.