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Elections: The Ultimate Grassroots Activity

By Stephanie Vance

Believe it or not, there’s always an election around the corner. No, I’m not talking about a Presidential campaign. I’m talking about every day when communities all across the country will
be deciding on their local state representative, or senator, county commissioners or city councilors, local ballot measures and/or the like. Whether you’re running for federal, state or local office, there are a dozen effective and fun ways to involve your grassroots network members in the political process for your benefit. In doing so, you’ll build both recognition of your candidacy as well as a pool of motivated and knowledgeable activists you will need to win.

Let’s consider what's available!

1. Registering People to Vote: At work, home, school and everywhere in between, your grassroots activists can help get people registered to vote. Print up business cards, flyers or buttons that they can either download off your site or pick up at a local printshop or other distribution point (you can upload your documents online and have them printed out at most locations). The message? Go to www.beavoter.org to register in your state – that’s it!

2. Media response teams: Whether it’s talk radio, local newscasts, letters to the editor or online outlets, there’s generally a great deal of talk in the news about election matters. Spend some time identifying your advocates who can instigate and respond quickly to media stories in their community. You can help them by providing short talking points.

3. House Parties: The Humane Society Legislative Fund encourages advocates to take action around issues and elections through their “Party Animals” house party program. Your Grassroot activists can arrange small parties in their community and can become connected to the larger effort through a call with national HSUS reps and supporters. Consider a similar to generate enthusiasm over your candidacy.

4. Bloggers Unite: Set up a “blog for your candidacy day” near the election date and ask any of your advocates who run a blog, read blogs or even know what blogs are to comment online about the importance of your candidacy and election on that day.

5. The Election will be YouTubed: You Tube has become the ultimate democratic medium. Tap the creativity of your advocates by seeking their videos highlighting the importance of your issues and candidacy. The videos might be interviews with business leaders, concerned residents or whoever is most affected (hint: puppies and children are ALWAYS well received.)

6. GOTV (the old-fashioned way): For the uninitiated, GOTV stands for “Get Out The Vote” and it’s an important component of any election effort. The “old-fashioned” (and still viable) means of getting the vote out include handing out flyers, making calls to registered voters (lists are available from local party organizations and/or the local board of elections) and partnering with popular gathering places like malls and churches to help spread the word. Even simple techniques like changing one’s voice mail to remind people to go vote can be effective.

7. GOTV (the new-fashioned way): At the same time, Web 2.0 has provided additional tools for GOTV, including texting, twitter, IM, e-mail taglines and autoresponders. If that all sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, recall that most people under 30 use text and IM to communicate with one another – if you want to get them to the polls, sending a text message is probably the best way to do so!

8. Take a friend to vote: OK, not much explanation needed here. But if every one of your grassroots members encouraged one of their friends to go with them, turn out would likely increase, right? And although one can’t assume that ALL the extra votes would go your way, if your advocates are bringing their friends (possibly likeminded people), there’s a more than 50-50 chance it will turn out positively for you.

9. Have some fun! Numerous national groups are raising the profile of their issues and having some fun through efforts like www.Edin08.com and www.electsusie.com. These efforts to, respectively, raise the profile of education issues and children’s health issues engages advocates in a whole new way. Use your candidate’s stance on issues to swell support.

10. Online petitions: At a minimum, getting people to sign on to online petitions gives you a ready list of people willing and able to be active on your candidate’s issues. A good grassroots part of your campaign can start petitions for subject areas you support to capture the attention of the issue supporters and bring them out to vote for you.

There are a host of other Grassroots advocacy methods to bring voters to you but the key is to think out of the proverbial box and use the tools and activists for your election.

Stephanie Vance, the Advocacy Guru at Advocacy Associates, works with
business and associations that want to impact public policy
through effective advocacy techniques. Her firm offers
advocacy training, lobby day coordination services, and
government relations and grassroots network development and consulting.
You can learn more on the web at
www.advocacyassociates.com or contact
Stephanie at info@advocacyguru.com.


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