Door-to-Door Canvassing

The most common method of meeting voters is to knock on doors. Chances are, you’ve volunteered to go door-knocking at some point in your life, but here are some tips that are helpful to remember whether it is your first time or thirty-first time:

  • Never leave anything in a mailbox
    It is illegal to leave anything in someone’s mailbox. If you have literature to drop off that is not a doorhanger, roll it up and insert in the door handle or between the knob and the door jamb.
  • Wear something that identifies you as a Democrat
  • Ask for the voter
    Begin every interaction by asking to speak with the voter that appears on your list. If there are multiple voters, ask if “Dick or Jane So-and-So” is available. In all likelihood, you are either speaking to the voter or they have moved. Both outcomes provide very useful information. If the voter you are meeting is not on your list, make sure to get accurate information (write clearly) on your walk sheet.
  • Get ready Before you reach the door, take a look at the information you have on your list.
    What is the name of the person you will ask for? Is there other data on your walk sheet that may be useful to know?
  • Be yourself
    You will often get a script when you go canvassing. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. As long as you cover the necessary information, you should feel free to speak as you would whenever meeting someone new from your neighborhood. Polite small talk can be very beneficial in getting people to respond candidly: “It’s so nice to finally meet you – I live right down the street and I’ve always loved your garden.”
  • Be safe
    If anything about an address on your list makes you feel uncomfortable, skip it. No voter data is more important than your safety. If you have been paired up with another canvasser, make sure you are always close enough to keep an eye out for each other.
  • Don’t get frustrated
    Canvassing a neighborhood takes many attempts. Don’t be frustrated if lots of people aren’t at home. The people that you are reaching will make it easier for the next crew to target the homes that are left unreached.
  • Don’t engage with Republicans
    Your goal is to reach as many Democrats and/or persuadable voters as possible. Spending time with Republican voters will limit your ability to reach the voters we need for Election Day.
  • Be prepared When planning a canvassing event, think through all the variables and be prepared to provide whatever might be needed. Do you have campaign literature? Voter registration forms? Stamps for the voter registration forms? Volunteer sign up forms? Literature about meeting times for the local party and clubs? If you are tech savvy, there may be options to provide sign up forms on iPads or other mobile devices.
  • Try different times and days You may find that you have the most success on Saturday afternoons – or it might be weekdays after dinner. Each neighborhood is different, so be sure to test out several different times before getting frustrated. Don’t expect to finish reaching all your voters in one try. It will take many, many rounds before you have reached most of your voters. Think of it as an ongoing process rather than a scheduled activity.
  • Ask confidently
    When you ask a voter if we can contact them by text message, phone or email, expect a yes. You’ll be surprised how often you get the answer you expect.
  • Have fun!
    Move at your own pace and have a good time talking with your neighbors.

Canvassing Resources

Canvassing Training