Canvassing is a political activity that has been employed as long as I have been working in politics. I did my first canvassing with my father in 1954 for Councilman Baker who campaigned on a platform of limiting growth in the Hollywood Hills.
Canvassing is an activity that teaches you more about how people live and think in your community than anything else I can think of.
My good friend, John Cage, canvassed the whole neighborhood of North Oakland in 1966 for his political science Masters thesis. He interviewed voters as to their attitudes about government, elections, politicians, and issues important to him.Based on those interviews and the information John collected, Jesse Unruh, Speaker of the California State Assembly and later Treasurer of California, made John the youngest delegate from California to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. While demonstrations were attempting to make their anti-Vietnam news apparent by demonstrating amidst the tear gas in Lincoln Park, John was successfully arguing for an end to the war platform for the Democratic Party in the Platform Committee
Canvassing is hard work, but it is the single most reliable source of voter information the candidates have.
Tools needed for canvassing:
One volunteer takes one side of the street, the other volunteer takes the other. You agree to meet at a certain time or place afterwards in case you lose sight of one another. If you are concerned because of the type of neighborhood you are in, you agree to wait for one another at the end of the block.
Scenario (You knock at the door.)
Houses not having visible house numbers from the sidewalk may have the numbers on the street side of the curb. Keep moving, close all gates, try to stay off the grass and don't go inside any residence for any reason.. Canvassing is a numbers game, the more people you can talk to and get their opinions, the more the candidate knows about his strength in that precinct. He can then modify his campaign strategy as needed.
Return your packet to the campaign office. Tally your results. This is the most important thing you do all day. All your efforts are wasted if the results you tabulate in your precinct kit are not tabulated and placed in the candidate's computer. Congratulate yourself if you did it right. You are creating power and molding the course of public policy and history. In the eight years that ALAN has been doing electioneering, we have established a wonderful reputation for the quality and professionalism of our work. Almost every candidate we have ever worked for has been grateful and impressed. It has translated into the kind of gratitude that has created an impressive list of new public policies. See the history of our legislative victories page. It all begins with the feet on the pavement and the knock on the door.
What is Phone
Each volunteer is given a script with which to start. It is a conversation flow chart to ease your anxiety about calling someone cold. Some candidates like volunteers to stick to the script, but others are grateful for the more natural style that can develop with time , confidence and experience. There is a real sense of empowerment that can come from spending time in a phone bank. One is also given a precinct list, listing the telephone numbers of registered voters in the candidate's district. Next to each name will be the following: (Y) supports the candidate (N) will not state or admits to supporting another candidate, (U) undecided, (NA) unable to speak with the voter (unfortunately, this is a large majority of the calls you make. You tabulate the result of you contact after every phone call.
Your job will be to contact each voter.
One can easily
make 30 to 60 calls in one hour. I have often talked voters into supporting
an animal friendly candidate when they were planning to vote for the opposing
candidate. My personal record for overturning opposing votes was when
I was phone banking for Judith Hirshberg. I was able to convert six opposing
voters in one hour. (Judith Hirshberg lost that election by 36 votes.).
Can you imagine what might have happened had we had more volunteers on
the phones in her campaign that election.
Tee and Golf Shirts and why. One of the useful tools we use when we are working in a candidates campaign office (we never wear them when we are going door to door ) is a Tee or Golf Shirt with the ALAN logo. Shirts identify you as an animal person. It makes it obvious to the candidate and his staff, the extent to which animal people are working on their behalf.
We purchase them from a contractor and offer them to volunteers at our cost ($8.00 for a T-Shirt, 17$ for a Golf Shirt) since we believe they are a useful tool. If you want to get the most out of whatever time you spend helping elect animal friendly candidates, you should get one and wear it.
To order a shirt: