“No Regrets” Guide to Taking Effective Action in the 2020 Election 🗳
Last updated 9/21/20. Feedback or suggestions? Email me! Want additional guides & tips to be a resilient social change leader? Sign up here!
👋 I’m so glad you made it here! I’m Daniel. I’m a coach for social change leaders and an organizer within progressive social movements. I’ve been very involved in the Bernie 2020 campaign and the Sunrise Movement and currently and a full-time Field Organizer in North Carolina.
I wrote this guide because I want to empower as many people as possible to make a contribution you will be proud of in the 2020 election.
This guide is for you if you want to wake up on November 4th without regrets. You want to know that you did your part to ensure we defeat Trump decisively and create the political conditions for progressive victories in 2021 and beyond by retaking control of the U.S. Senate and state legislatures.
If you’re overwhelmed and holding back from taking action, this guide will quickly and easily help you find meaningful, strategic ways to plug in. With the passing of RBG, winning in a landslide is mission critical and we need your help. Get involved today.
Table of Contents:
1. Tips for engaging in 2020 with clarity, focus, ease and grace.
2. Key Terms
3. Deciding How to Plug-In
4. Top Opportunities to Mobilize Voters
5. Top Organizations Protecting Voting Rights
6. Leadership Development and Training Opportunities
7. Want a Job in the 2020 election?
8. Getting additional Support
9. Make sure YOU are registered to vote!
My tips for engaging in 2020 with clarity, focus, ease and grace
* Find your political home
Take action regularly & consistently, with the same group over time. By engaging with the same group or organization in an ongoing way, you’ll gain skill and ease in using their system. You’ll ideally meet people and have a sense of community as you organize. Rather than spending energy researching new ways to plug in every week, you’ll know what to do. Take time upfront to explore different opportunities, and once you find one you like, stick with it!
* Take small, sweet steps
Bring ease to taking action by breaking things down into small, doable, enjoyable action steps. Want to find an org to work with? Spend 15 minutes researching! Want to phone bank? Sign up for 1 hour to start, to get the ball rolling! By taking action you’ll experience momentum, which will make it easier to keep going.
* Stay rooted in your vision while you take action
While it is important to know what we’re fighting against, it is vital that you’re clear about your “why.” What is the positive vision of the future you want to see, that engaging in the election will help bring about? What is most important to you about engaging? Seeing your vision clearly will help you rise above the fear and hesitancies that come with taking action. Not sure what your vision is? Take 30 minutes to complete this creating your personal vision writing activity!
* Sign up for a specific action item, NOT endless email lists
Signing up for a phone bank shift, mass call or training will feel much more empowering than getting endless emails. Don’t get lost in the email deluge! Much better to sign up for something specific you can do, and put it in your calendar, than spend hours reading emails from every org.
* Volunteer with an organization, rather than a candidate (most of the time)
Unless there is a specific candidate whose values and vision you deeply resonate with, I suggest you volunteer with an organization that does electoral work. I suggest great ones below. By finding an organization whose values you align with, you can pour your heart and whole self into the organizing - rather than fretting that you don’t love a specific candidate or campaign. If there IS a specific candidate you love and want to see win, great! Check out their website for volunteer opportunities.
* Give what you Can
You don’t need to give tons of time to make a difference. As little as 30 minutes/week can add up over time. And if you have a lot of time and passion, don’t be afraid to treat electoral organizing as a part or full-time job! Be real with yourself and assess how much time you realistically can give - and don’t overextend yourself! Campaigns might try to move you up a ladder of engagement, asking you to do more and more. It is ok to say no! Give what you can, even if it is less than asked by a staff, knowing that you’re contributing what is authentically yours to contribute. Ask for the support you need from friends, family and your community, they’ll be glad you asked.
* Do what you love
There are lots of ways to engage in the election. Love talking to people? Make phone calls! Love writing? Do letter writing. Choose opportunities based on what you’ll genuinely enjoy.
😮 Never done electoral organizing before? Start here!
Electoral organizing at heart is about having authentic, human conversations with others about their values, vision and dreams for the better world we want to live in. It can be hard work, but also deeply rewarding and fun. Most electoral organizing in 2020 involves calling or texting people using software that makes it easy. Depending on what organization you’re volunteering with, you might be persuading registered voters to support a specific candidate, calling supporters to give them critical information about how to vote safely in the COVID-era, or calling people to invite them to volunteer.
The specifics depend on which organization or campaign you’re volunteering with and when in the campaign cycle you are. Typically campaigns first identify supporters, than try to persuade people who are undecided, and several weeks before the election move to a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) phase, where they contact known supporters and ensure that they turn out to vote. In the COVID era, with many people voting by mail or doing early voting, Get Out the Vote starts as early as late September!
🙌 Key terms
Swing state: A state with a competitive race. For the Presidential race, key swing states include Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona, and Florida. To win a Democratic majority in the Senate, we’re competing in tight races in North Carolina, Colorado, Maine, Arizona, Montana, Iowa, Georgia, Alabama and Michigan.
Phone and/or text banking: Signing up for a shift where you and other volunteers call or text a list of voters at the same time, following a script. When you sign up for a phone bank or text bank shift you’ll be given specific directions for what to say to the voter and all the resources you need. You’ll usually also be using an app or software that automatically places phone calls for you from a phone number that isn’t your own.
Relational organizing: Organizing people you already know to support a candidate and helping them make a plan to vote. For instance, talking to your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues and persuading them to vote for Democrats and making sure their voice is counted. Research shows relational organizing can be up to 10 times more effective than calling strangers. I love this method of organizing! Some organizations and campaigns have incredible relational organizing programs, where you are given special software, training and support for how to effectively map your relationships and then organize those people to vote. Highly suggested.
Canvassing: Talking to voters in person. Either going door-to-door and talking to specific people on a list, or talking with anyone who passes by in a public place such as a college campus or farmers market. Given the pandemic, most groups are relying more on phone and text banking. Some orgs are doing in-person canvassing with social distance protocols in place. You do NOT need to talk to people in-person to play an important role in this election, but if you’re willing to take the risk and an org needs volunteers near you, you might consider this option.
🤔 Deciding How to Plug-In
Now, you must decide what you’ll do. By making a clear choice, you’ll free yourself up from researching -- which we tend to over-do -- and focus on doing instead. Taking action might be a bit more uncomfortable at first, but definitely more fulfilling in the long run! Spend 10% of your time researching and 90% doing.
Take 3-5 minutes now to reflect on these questions:
* What method of volunteering would I enjoy doing? Phonebanking? Texting voters? Writing letters? Registering voters in person?
* Is it important to me to focus on a specific state or community? Or, am I willing to volunteer anywhere?
* Is there a specific candidate I’m very excited about and want to see win, or do I just generally want to see Trump and senate republicans defeated?
* How much time each week can I volunteer? 1 hour? 2-4 hours? 5+?
* Can I volunteer in my free time, or would it work best for me to have a paid organizing job?
* Do I have the financial resources to donate to a campaign and/or organization?
Now, use this flowchart to help guide you, and read about the incredible organizations mentioned below!
Can’t see the image on your phone? View it here!
🎯 Top Volunteer Opportunities To Mobilize Voters
Mission: National network of 41 state & local grassroots power-building organizations united in fighting for justice. “Join us in our joyous rebellion!”
Types of Races: Presidential, Senate, House, State Legislature.
Methods of volunteering: Phone banking (including deep canvassing), text banking, vol recruitment calls.
Why I recommend: Deep canvassing approach proven to be 100x more effective than traditional voter contact. Strong social justice values and progressive st