Recruiting GOTV Volunteers
by National Democratic Training Committee, @traindems

As Election Day draws nearer, you may be wondering how you can accomplish everything you need to in your local county. Your local Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts are limited by the time, people, and money at your disposal, and recruiting GOTV volunteers is especially vital.

The most crucial element of GOTV is voter contact - as a party, we succeed when we connect with voter’s face to face. Because time is limited, we need help from as many people as possible. Whether you’re a precinct captain seeking help to reach all of the base Democrats in your precinct, or a countywide GOTV captain seeking poll watchers, you’ll need to recruit GOTV volunteers to help you get the job done!

Recruiting GOTV volunteers is essential to your efforts. There are people out there who will help you turn out Democratic voters this election season, but they will only help if you ask them. We’ve put together a list of the best practices for building your county’s volunteer team for your final GOTV push.

Start Recruiting GOTV Volunteers Today

Recruiting GOTV Volunteers Election Day might still feel far away, but people are busy. You’ve probably been thinking about GOTV weekend for months, but most people aren’t planning out their canvassing schedule for the first week of November (except all these famous people working on a campaign called The Last Weekend).

That means you need to start recruiting today. Use a hard ask to get people to commit to specific volunteer shifts during GOTV weekend and on Election Day. Remind them to request Election Day off work so they can volunteer then, too.

Find the Right Ask

If the person is able, always start by asking them to canvass. Knocking doors is the most effective way to turn out Democratic voters. But not everyone is comfortable contacting voters, so develop a list of follow-up asks for folks who say no. If they feel uncomfortable canvassing or phone banking, they might be happy to help write postcards to voters, host a canvass kickoff at their home, or bring snacks and water. (For canvassing tips, check out another blog post about connecting with voters).

Start with Friends & Family

You can and should ask everyone you know to help with Get Out the Vote - except Republicans. Ask your friends and family, even the ones who are not very political. Tell them why this election is so important to you and ask them to come out and volunteer alongside you.

Encourage and Motivate

If you’re unsure how to encourage and motivate people to volunteer, there are some tried and tested methods for applying gentle pressure:

  • Tell people about the exciting volunteer work that is already happening and invite them to be a part of it.
  • Be clear about the specific goals you need help achieving: “I need to knock 240 doors this weekend, and I need two more volunteers to help me do it.”
  • Remind them that their work as a volunteer will have a bigger impact than their vote alone.

Stay Organized

Every time someone commits to volunteering, make sure to record the shift they committed to, their name, and their phone number. If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen. You should keep this for your own records, but if you have a volunteer coordinator in your county, you should pass that information along to them as well.

Follow Up & Confirm

Always follow up with volunteers. At the least, that means calling or texting volunteers the day before, or the morning of, their shift to remind them to come! Don’t expect volunteers to remember what they committed to - always remind them of their commitment.

Always Ask for More

It can be uncomfortable to ask people for help, especially if we know them. Recruiting volunteers can be awkward and difficult. But it takes people power to win elections - that’s what organizing is all about. So, keep asking!

When a volunteer finishes a shift, ask them to commit to the next one before they head home. When they commit to a shift, ask if they can bring a case of water or donuts.

It takes all of us, together, to make change. None of us can do it alone. So ask for what you need. You might be surprised by the people who say yes!