Talking to voters is one of the most important things we can do to influence Swing District elections, particularly because turnout in House races is traditionally so low. Studies tell us that getting voters to “commit” in advance can meaningfully increase turnout (by nearly 4 percentage points!). So Swing Left's canvass program is focused on collecting commitment cards from supporters -- and making sure they're registered to vote -- in order to ensure that we have the votes we need to take back the House in 2018.
It's easy to do, even if you have never gone door-to-door before. Just read the five easy steps below to get started.
How it works: Five Easy Steps
Step 1: Sign up to host a canvass
Click here to create an event. If you run into trouble, take a look at our tips for setting up your event using Action Network in the Host Guide. You can also click here to search for events scheduled near you.
Step 2: Review the Host Guide
Click here to read our full Host Guide. It covers everything you need to know to have an awesome event.
Step 3: Pick a neighborhood and create a walk map.
Each canvasser pair should aim to knock 30 doors during a 2-3 hour canvass. Estimate the number of houses on a block and pick a starting address and an ending address for your canvass. Click here to read more about how to create your walk map.
Step 4: Review and print the materials for your event
Click here to check out Swing Left's new Pledge Tool. Using this web tool, you'll be asking supporters to a) sign the commit to vote pledge on your phone and b) verify that their voter registration is up-to-date. When you come across a Republican or Undecided voter, you'll ask them to share their top issues so that we can better understand our districts and better tailor our messaging next year. Confused about how to use the tool? Check out the instructions.
Note: If your volunteers choose to record their canvass data on the paper form (see below), it should be entered into our system after the canvass at swingleft.org/pledgetool/bulk.
Before your event, we’d recommend printing:
- Sign-in sheet (1 copy)
- Canvass script (1 copy/ volunteer)
- Attendee Guide with best practices (1 copy/volunteer)
- Paper Data Entry Form (1 copy/volunteer)
- Swing Left Overview Flyer to give to voters at the door (10 copies/ volunteer)
- Maps for each volunteer with assigned streets (instructions in step 3 above)
All the materials your canvassers will need can also be found at swingleft.org/canvassing-resources.
Step 5: Get out there and HAVE FUN!
This isn't just about collecting pledge cards -- it is about having fun connecting with voters and other Swing Left Volunteers! So, have a great time and share your stories with us. Share a group pic, video, or anecdote from your event on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook (or all three!). Don’t forget to include #swingleft so that Swing Left can retweet/repost!