As we get closer and closer to Election Day you will start to hear campaigns talking about their Get Out the Vote (or GOTV) efforts. Normally GOTV is the weekend before the Election and on Election Day. How we approach GOTV has changed over the past couple of years. It is now easier for citizens to Early Vote and to Vote By Mail. These programs are vitally important to the overall success of all the Democrats on the ballot. Each County Party should be actively encouraging voters to either Vote Early or to Vote By Mail.
For the purposes of this article, and for the training of Precinct Committeemen, I want to focus what each Precinct Committeemen should be doing to prepare for Election Day. These are recommendations for each Precinct Committeemen. If your County Party already has established GOTV Operations, then you should contact your County Chairman to see where you can help within those operations.
One thing that everyone should remember is GOTV is about mobilizing Democrats to get out and vote. Campaigns should not be spending time on trying to persuade voters at this point. We know that, in Illinois, the only way Republicans win is when Democrats don’t show up.
An important duty that most Precinct Committeemen fail to fulfill is that each of you is responsible for the yard signs being put up at Polling Locations. I understand that yard signs don’t vote but it is important to give a reminder to our voters before they walk into the polls.
This means that every yard sign, for every candidate running in your Precinct, needs to be up by 6am on Election Day. As a Precinct Committeemen, you are the representative of the Democratic Party in your Precinct. In the General Election you do not have the luxury of picking and choosing what candidates you will put up signs for. That means you’ll MUST put up signs for every candidate from President all the way down the ballot to Judge.
Republicans also have a very bad habit of forgetting to pick up their yard signs from polling locations. I’ve seen Republican yard signs at Polling Locations for weeks after an election. Let’s make sure that at 7pm on Election Day that we pull all the Democrat yard signs. The Polling Location will appreciate your efforts with this.
On Election Day there are several different tasks that Precinct Committeemen will be responsible for. That is why it is important to recruit 2 – 5 volunteers for every Precinct. These individuals should be separate from volunteers for any campaign or labor union. That way we are not double counting volunteers. Everyone has at least 2 friends that are interested in Democrat politics but don’t want to be involved at a Precinct Committeemen level. You should be asking those individuals now so give them enough time to take off from work. College aged children are also another good source of volunteer help on Election Day. I have a three-year-old son and he doesn’t know it yet, but he’ll be out knocking on doors once he’s old enough. The point is that every Precinct Committeemen should be looking to add in more volunteers to the GOTV efforts. It makes the overall effort easier and allows the operations to cover more area.
On Election day your volunteers (or you as a Precinct Committeeman) should be focusing on these duties:
- Poll Watcher
- Precinct Runner
- Phone Banker
I believe the most important role on Election Day is Poll Watcher. This volunteer will be checking off a master list of expected Democratic voters. You will be get this from your County Chairman or from the campaign running GOTV in your County. The Poll Watcher must report to the Polling Location by 6am and MUST turn in a Poll Watcher Credential. I would recommend having several copies of this Poll Watcher Credential in case they are needed.
Poll Watchers are the Democratic Party’s first line of defense against Voter Suppression. There are various different things that Poll Watchers should look out for and that was covered in previous newsletters. The one thing that Poll Watchers should remember that if they think that there is voter suppression taking place in their Polling Location, call your County Chairman immediately.
The next important role is Precinct Runners. These are the individuals who will be knocking on doors, and leaving candidate literature, to remind voters that Polls are open till 7pm. These volunteers should report to the GOTV Staging Location by 8:45am. They should have walk lists from the County Chairman or from the campaign running GOTV operations.
Throughout the day the Precinct Committeeman should “pull the list” of voters from the Poll Watcher. They will go through their own master walk list and strike the voters who have already voted. The Precinct Committeeman will then meet with the Runners to strike off their lists anyone who has already voted. The Precinct Committeeman should “pull the list” of voters by 10am, 1:30pm and 4pm.
The last important role is Phone Bankers. Several volunteers want to help with turning out Democrats but are unable to help with going door to door. These volunteers should be utilized for phone banking. These volunteers should report to the GOTV Staging Location by 10am. Phone lists can be attained from the County Chairman or the campaign running GOTV operations.
If every Precinct Committeeman were to have volunteers for these roles, I am positive that we would see an increase in Democratic turnout statewide. At the absolute minimum, Precinct Committeeman should be working in their Precinct on Election Day.