Canvassing, Direct Voter Contact, Phonebanking

How to Organize a Voter Contact Event

At this point, Indivisible groups across the country are gearing up for planning voter contact events across the country. Here are the steps to planning one of your own! 

Set a date
Pick a time (or times) that would work well for your group members. Generally, weekends and weeknights are the best time to knock on doors and phonebank—you’ll have the best rate of folks that are home. Consider planning recurring events that happen weekly or biweekly!

Register your event
Add your event to the Indivisible events map! After registering an event, you will get an email to the email address you provided when you registered, with the subject line “Confirm your local Indivisible event”. The same link that you click to confirm the event will lead you to host tools. The host tools allow you to edit the event’s details, cancel the event, view a list of attendees, view attendees’ contact information, mass email attendees, and more!

Any event on our map by Wednesday at 11:59pm ET will be sent to folks in the event’s area in the “Find an Indivisible event near you” section of that week’s newsletter. This newsletter goes out to our entire national list, so this is a great way to reach possible new group members!

Publicize the event
Update your group and get commitments. Use this activity as an opportunity to bring in new folks too. Make calls to your neighbors, put up flyers in town, post in various Facebook groups, ask every group member to bring a friend. Don’t forget to register your event with us so we can help promote the event to people in your area.

Confirm your volunteers
The night before the event, give everyone who signed up a call to let them know you’re counting on them to be there—and to bring a friend (or three!). Ask if they need a ride, or if they have any questions about the event. Remind them to bring the following:

  • Fully charged smartphone or tablet
  • Phone or tablet charger 
  • If door knocking, weather gear! Do you need sunscreen? A poncho? Sunglasses? Comfortable shoes too!

Prepare your materials

Spend time the day before getting your location set up, putting together clipboards, and making sure all materials are ready.

  • Set up your location. Have a sign-in table, an area for training, a table with the materials ready to hand out, and a debrief location (could just be a corner of the room).
  • Prepare each clipboard with: a cover sheet with your contact information, voter contact best practices, the script, and a pen.
  • Additional materials: consider bringing extra iPhone and Android chargers, some portable chargers, water, and snacks.

Welcome your volunteers
Take time to greet folks as they arrive, ensure they sign in, hand them materials, and introduce them to one another. Folks will be more likely to come back for another shift if they make friends while they’re volunteering!

Train your canvassers
A good training is key to a successful canvass. It’s important to have a training before each canvass!

Sample 30 Minute Training Agenda

  • Greet everyone as they arrive and have them sign in [5 mins]
  • Introduce yourself and the importance of voter contact [3 mins]
  • Explain where you’ll be canvassing or who you’ll be calling and why [2 mins]
  • Script overview and practice [5 mins]
    • What we’ll be asking for and why
    • Model the script with a volunteer
    • The importance of using the language in the script 
  • Go through the canvassing lists, MiniVAN or openVPB [10 mins]
  • Highlight voter contact best practice [3 mins]
    • Go over best practices 
    • Define the VAN non-contact responses (found at end of this document)
  • Set expectations [4 mins]
    • For canvassing: finish all 40 doors, expect to speak to 1 out of 5 people, text or call me if you need anything
    • For phonebanking: Pair off to practice the script. One person is the volunteer, one person is the voter. Switch roles after 2 minutes
  • Q&A [3 mins]

Hit the streets or get on the phone
For canvassers: make sure they have your contact information, and that you have your phone on during the whole canvas in case people encounter any problems.

Share your success
Don’t forget to take pictures, post on social media and celebrate the great work your group is doing. Tag @indivisibleteam on Twitter so we can help amplify your work. There’s nothing like a volunteer selfie!

Make thank you calls
Make sure to follow up with your volunteers to thank them for coming out—consider sharing how many calls were made/doors knocked, how many supporters you identified, and why their work was so impactful. Don’t forget to get them signed up for their next canvass.

VAN Non-Contact Responses

Not Home
This response is used when voters don’t answer the door or phone. Also, this response is used generally when you cannot reach the voter, but the situation doesn’t fall in any of the responses below.

Refused
This response is only used when three things are true: 1) You know you are talking to the voter you want to contact, 2) the voter knows who you are and why you are calling and 3) the voter clearly tells you to go away or stop calling.

Deceased
The voter being called is no longer alive.

Moved
The voter on the list has moved from the address listed. This is usually used mostly during canvassing.

Call Back
The voter being called asks to be called back.

Busy
The phone number gives you a busy number.

Left Message
You left a message. Only leave messages when the script calls for it.

Wrong Number
The person who answered the phone, who owns the number, is not the person being called.

Disconnected
The phone number being called is disconnected.

Inaccessible
When canvassing, the door is inaccessible due to a gate, dog, or other obstruction.

Spanish
The voter’s primary language is Spanish. This is used mainly when the conversation could not happen because of a language barrier.

Other Language
The voter’s primary language is one that is not English or Spanish. This is used mainly when the conversation could not happen because of a language barrier.