Canvass for a Candidate
The most important decision makers in US and Oregon politics are elected officials. That’s why it’s so important that voters have a say in who their officials are and what they stand for. Unfortunately, too often people don’t understand what officials do and don’t have time to research all the candidates who run for an office. They often end up voting without much information or don’t vote at all. Elected officials are meant to represent their constituents, but they are often elected by a small minority of them.
That’s where candidate canvassing comes in. Canvassers are community members who inform voters about a particular candidate running for office. In many cases, canvassers serve as general voting advocates, encouraging their fellow community members to participate. Canvassers have an important opportunity to engage people in discussions about politics and policies and to further explain a candidate beyond short print mailers or television ads. Because they interact with people on an individual level, they are able to address voters’ concerns and disagreements directly. For many, canvassers become the personal connection between a campaign and its supporters.
Ways to canvass
Many years ago, canvassing was mostly limited to door knocking and landline calls. While both of these are still employed by some candidates, there are many new ways to canvass. Here are five of the most common:
How to get started
The first step in canvassing is picking a candidate to canvass for. Although they do still need volunteers, national candidates have much more funding and media access than local candidates. Consider canvassing for a state or city candidate instead, and use the opportunity to discuss the importance of local voting. Research all the for the government position, as well as the job duties and limitations of the position. Once you’ve chosen a candidate, research their policies and stances, as well as common arguments against those stances.
Signing up to canvass for a candidate is the easiest part. Most candidates have a big volunteer link somewhere on the main page of their website. You’ll need to provide your contact information and you might be asked to provide your preferred canvassing method. You’ll hear back from the campaign with specific instructions about how to start canvassing. You may be asked to participate in a training or sign disclosures to protect people’s contact information. Soon, you’ll be reaching out to voters and talking to them about the candidate you’re supporting!