Running an Effective Canvass
The first step to running a canvass is to choose a central staging location from which to start and end the canvass. In most cases, this will be a local union hall. Try to have snacks available for when the volunteers return from the canvass.
Second, create enough packets (separated geographically, usually by precinct) to last through the morning and afternoon. Each packet should contain at least five items (a sample is included):
- A map with driving directions from the central staging location to the neighborhood to be canvassed. Map Quest and Streets and Trips are valuable resources.
- A detailed map of the neighborhood to be canvassed. Precinct maps can be obtained from the County Board of Elections.
- A list of households to canvass sorted by address. Lists not sorted in this way are inordinately difficult to execute.
- A script with canvassing instructions and contact information for the person they should call if they have problems on the road.
- A pencil.
Third, divide the canvassers into groups depending on the number of available vehicles (try to use American cars). Ideally, each car will have three people: a driver, a navigator/canvasser and a canvasser.
Fourth, help the drivers map their routes and train the canvassers. Role-playing is often the best method.
Lastly, remind the canvassers of these three important points:
- Be Safe. If a person is agitated by your presence, apologize and leave. If there is a vicious looking dog outside the house, or if the house looks unsafe, simply mark "Not Home" and continue to the next house.
- You represent the USW. You are the frontline image of our union. Even if the person at the door is rude, be respectful.
- Never put campaign literature in a mailbox. This is illegal. If the person is not home, place the material in the door so that it does not blow away.
Click here for example instructions and scripts.