The Role of Volunteers in a Campaign For Local Office – Part 2

politician's familyWe previously discussed the first three of the seven distinct elements of a local campaign requiring volunteers.

The seven elements are:

1. Developing printed materials for fundraising, canvassing, mailing, and lit drops

2. Fundraising and finances

3. Canvassing neighborhoods

4. Mailings and literature drops

5. Yard signs

6. Get Out the Vote (GOTV) phone calls

7. Election Day poll greeters

Some of these elements or positions are what I refer to as Church Organist jobs, one person for one job. Other roles really need a choir, the more voices volunteering, the better. Below we discuss elements numbers four through seven.

Mailings and Lit Drops

Volunteers have helped the candidate prepare and design campaign literature. Now you have boxes of the stuff in the garage. It’s time to distribute that campaign literature. This is done in two ways, mailing or lit drops. Mailing requires labels and postage. Lit drops require a whole choir of volunteers.

Which is better? Both deliver the literature to prospective voters. Mailing takes money–lots of it. Lit drops require volunteers–lots of them. For a lit drop you need one or two cars for each precinct, two or three persons in each car. So it is labor intensive but a short-term commitment. The volunteers don’t have to campaign on anyone’s behalf; they just stick the literature in the door and go on to the next house. The message gets delivered and it saves the campaign a bundle.

Yard Signs

I know they seem goofy, but yard signs are an effective way to get the candidate’s name out to the public. Local newspapers seldom have the manpower to cover local campaigns. Once the yard signs are our people you visit or call will say, “I’ve seen the yard signs.” There is a cumulative effect of the mailings, yard signs, canvassing and phone calls. People feel like they know you and that pays off on Election Day.

GOTV Phone calls

Another big choir effort. While canvassing, the volunteer accompanying the candidate takes notes identifying those persons likely to vote for the candidate. You want those people to vote on Election Day.

Volunteers are needed to make these phone calls. Most of us shy away from this task perhaps because most of us dislike getting phone calls. But campaigns need this extra push in the last week. Besides, a good candidate has been to their home, has mailed information to them, people recognize the candidate’s name and are usually quite pleasant about the call.

For those of you who are reluctant to do this, I’ll let you in on a little secret. In the late summer and fall when the weather is nice, no one is home! I don’t care when you call, no one is home! Easily six out of ten calls I have made the last week of a campaign end up as phone messages. And that is just as effective as talking to someone. Phone callers work with a script. You can call 20 to 40 people in an hour. If one or two volunteers in each precinct made 100 calls during election week, it makes make a big difference. Callers are also needed on Election Day, which brings me to the last of the seven elements of a local campaign.

Election Day Poll Greeters

A big choir, lots of voices really help here. Election day is a long haul. Polls in my state are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voting is heaviest between 7a.m. to 9 a.m., 11a.m to 1 p.m. and after 4 p.m. But voters trickle in all day long. It is a great asset to have one or more greeters at each polling place from 7 a.m. to 8 pm. That requires a good number of volunteers, ideally four volunteers working three and a quarter hour shifts. When you figure even a small municipality has four to ten polling places, you can see that this chore demands a very large choir. Greeters do just that, they greet the voters. They have a sample ballot to show voters and campaign literature. But mostly greeters just say, “Hi, thanks for voting.”

It’s a little thing. But poll greeters working in their home polling place are seen by their neighbors, friends, and acquaintances. Poll greeters presence and support makes the candidate visible to every voter. On Election Day, volunteers are also needed to call voters to remind them to vote. And remember, most of the time no one is home; you’re just leaving messages.

Consider getting involved and run for office or help your preferred candidate get elected. Every candidate could use a few more volunteers.

Tony Crocamo has more than 25 years experience in the planning, preparation, and participation in public meetings, conferences, and seminars on behalf of engineering and architectural firms, as well as civic, charitable, and professional groups.

If you’d like to put Tony’s decades of communication experience to work for you, visit: or contact him by email:

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