Washington County Democratic Party Precinct Chair Training Guide
PRECINCT CHAIR- PRECINCT ORGANIZER
Precinct Chairs are responsible for organizing the grassroots effort for Democratic candidates within their designated geographical area of the county. Your role is to build and strengthen the Democratic Party from the grassroots up, assist in the election of Democratic candidates, and promote the Democratic philosophy. You are the Democratic Party's direct link with the voters in your neighborhood. The office of Precinct Chair sets the stage for the success of the Democratic Party election process.
• Participate in Central Committee through
*attending quarterly meetings
*representing your precinct on the committee
*enacting, amending, and abiding by the County By-laws and rules of the organization
*voting on matters presented to the committee (resolutions, endorsements, vacancies, etc.)
*introducing additional Precinct Chairs when vacancies occur during a term
*assisting county and state delegates
OPTIONAL TASKS- for those who want to go above and beyond!
• Create a volunteer precinct team through:
*recruiting volunteers for needed tasks
*training volunteers, as needed
*maintaining an electronic volunteer contact roster
*updating the volunteer roster with the County Committee
Develop a precinct campaign plan through:
*establishing a timeline consistent with State & County directives
*making volunteer assignments for necessary tasks
*providing appropriate follow-up on volunteer assignments
*conducting voter contact & identification and GOTV efforts
Participate in the election through:
*recommendations to the County Clerk, persons for the election judges in their precinct
*coordinate drivers to take identified people to the polls
Qualifications: Must reside within the designated county precinct
MUST be a registered Democrat
MUST be 18 years old by Election Day in November
Section 1: Participate in Central Committee
As Precinct Chair, your responsibilities include representing your precinct on the County Central Committee by attending quarterly meetings and enacting, amending, and abiding by the County Bylaws, rules of the organization and political plans. You will also have the opportunity to represent Democrats in your precinct by voting on matters presented to the committee (resolutions, vacancies, endorsements, etc.)
Provide recommendations for vacancies in Precinct Leadership
A vital component to the effectiveness of any Central Committee is having elected leadership for all precincts within the county. When vacancies occur, a perfect place to start looking for a replacement chair is from precinct volunteer team members from past campaign efforts.
Provide suggestions to your legislative chair should you need to step down. If there are vacancies within your precinct leadership, choose the replacement and contact the party to update the precinct records.
Section 2: Create a Volunteer Precinct Team
Recruiting volunteers for needed tasks
Any political strategist will tell you that the more people involved in a campaign, the more likely the campaign is to be successful. There are more basic reasons, though, for involving as many of your neighbors as possible in your Democratic precinct work-- it makes your job easier!
When you encounter Democrats, don't hesitate to ask them to volunteer for the Party's sake. It is surprising how many people will say, "yes". Use the remarks section of the card to explain the type of help the person will be able to give.
For the most part, the volunteers you meet will be able to assist with various assignments within your precinct organization. However, in those cases, where an individual's skills or interests go beyond the Precinct's needs, such as with major donor fundraising, speech-writing, letter-to-the-editor campaigns, etc.-- these volunteers should be brought to the attention of the County Chairman.
When looking for volunteers, do not overlook the Women's Democratic Clubs, Young Democrats, College Democrats, or other workers who have volunteered in previous years; they can provide a rich source of willing volunteers.
Training volunteers, as needed
It is important that Precinct leaders conduct training for their volunteers (or work with your Legislative District Chair, Region Chair, or County Party Vice-Chair to train). This includes instruction on how to handle door-to-door encounters, precinct lists, Election Day duties, etc.
Training topics that might be covered are:
Maintaining an electronic volunteer contact roster:
Keeping track of volunteers is critical to providing continuity within a precinct. You should develop a mechanism to gather and report all volunteers (see example below) in an Excel file to the County office when requested or when you are no longer Precinct Chair. Definitions of volunteer opportunities are in Appendix E.
Voter Contact Training (Appendix A)
How to register voters (Appendix B)
How to Get Out the Vote (GOTV) (Appendix C)
How to Implement a Finance Campaign (Appendix D)
Definition of Volunteer Opportunities (Appendix E)
Sample Volunteer Card
Create an Excel worksheet that contains the following data fields: Column A- Precinct Number Column B- Telephone number Column C- Last name Column D- First name Column E- Street Address Column F- Email address Column G- Y if registered, N if not registered Column H- Y if voter contact, N if not interested in this opportunity Column I- Y if candidate support; N if not interested in this opportunity Column J- Y if literature drop; N if not interested in this opportunity Column K- Y if poll work; N if not interested in this opportunity Column L- Y if election judge; N if not interested in this opportunity Column M- Y if fair booth; N if not interested in this opportunity Column N- Y if yard signs; N if not interested in this opportunity Column O- type what the "other is"
NOTE: be sure to include your name in the file
Update the volunteer roster with the County Vice-Chair or Database Liaison monthly
Precinct # __________________
First Name __________________________ Last Name ______________________
Street Address ___________________________________________________________
Registered- Yes No In database
Volunteer tasks requested
Fair Booth Candidate Support
Yard Signs Literature drop
Canvasser Name _____________________________
Section 3- Develop a Precinct Campaign Plan
1. The Need for a Plan
A. Each precinct should have a plan prepared that outlines how to build the Democratic Party in both
* numbers of volunteers and
* percentage of the popular vote within the Precinct inclined to support Democratic candidates. This includes but is not limited to voter identification and registration, and GOTV efforts
-- Never expect your volunteers to know what has to be done, particularly if it is only in your mind! Put it on paper.
-- Once your team is organized, let them help in planning. If they help write the plan, they will better understand its overall objectives.
-- Your master plan should be your guide for the coming year. Let every team member have a copy. Refer to it. Use it. Don't forget it.
-- Create a new plan annually. People move! Who was in your neighborhood last year may be different this year. We need to update our block plans each year.
B. Calendaring & Timetables
-- In addition to stating overall objectives, your written plan needs a calendar and timetables. Include in the calendar: a. Dates fixed by state law. b. Community activity dates. c. Party activity dates. d. Dates of your plan's activities.
2. Time Table Your timetable is actually a reverse calendar. A reverse calendar states your plan, step by step, in reverse. For example, pick the date of your event (i.e. a voter contact kickoff). Now simply work backwards from that date and determine what needs to be done, the time it takes to do it and how many people are needed to get it done.
3. Plan your work and then, work your plan!
C. Draw a district neighborhood voter contact plan
A precinct map locating every residence is a great tool for effective precinct organization. The map will help you define the blocks and areas to which each of your volunteers will be assigned and to spot people who are not registered and, on Election Day, voters who have not voted.
1. Obtain an updated Precinct map by contacting your county clerk or elections office: http://www.washco.utah.gov/clerk/maps.php
2. Analyze your precinct map and divide it into logical areas or block groups each with about 20-50 residences depending on how many volunteers you have.
Example: the map below shows COT008 divided into eight
* block groups. These groupings may be too large, but this provides an example of how a precinct might be divided
3. Assign a volunteer from your precinct team to each sub-section (see Section 2- Create a Volunteer Team)
4. Conduct neighborhood voter contact training (see Appendix A)
5. Carry out voter identification and campaign plans.
D. Get to Know the Candidates
After convention, or primary election (if applicable), especially those for the state legislature and other local offices, contact the Democratic candidates to help develop a campaign plan. Together you can orchestrate a plan as to how you and your team can best assist them to avoid duplicating efforts. Since the absentee voting efforts will target identified Democrats (see Appendix B), most of these efforts will target unidentified voters & independents.
1. Candidate Meet & Greets
It is very helpful for candidates to gain exposure to groups of Democrats and unaffiliated or undecided voters. Your committee should already have created a list of names in your precinct of likely citizens to invite to a neighborhood event. (See Section 2 & Appendix B). Such neighborhood opportunities are important, especially so that candidates may meet and know your Precinct team and volunteer workers. As Precinct leaders, you should arrange at least one meeting of your precinct team & citizens no less than 45 days before any election. Be sure to add this activity to your planning calendar.
2. Candidate Literature
Precinct leaders are responsible for providing voters within their precinct information about the Democratic candidates on the ballot. Rather than pay postage, Democratic candidates may work with their Precinct Leaders to develop a plan to have their literature dropped off at targeted households. Literature drops are an excellent activity in which to involve youth volunteers in your precinct.
Section 4- Participate in the Election
Find election judges in the precinct
Search the list of volunteers from your precinct team and recommend to the County Clerk, persons for the position of election judges in their precinct. This may have already been done during the neighborhood caucus meeting.
It is important to assist Democrats in getting to the polls to vote on Election Day. Search the list of volunteers from your precinct team for people who identified that they would provide transportation on Election Day. Assign two
* hour slots from 8:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. to appropriate volunteers
Vote yourself, either through early voting, absentee, or at the polls
Coordinate drivers to take identified people to the polls
APPENDIX A- Voter Contact Training
1. TO BEGIN: Obtain a walking list (Appendix B) for every house in your block. Be prepared with literature and to answer questions.
2. WHEN TO CONTACT: Call from 9:30a- 11:30a or between 1:30p and 4:30p. In the evening, call from 4p- 7:30p. DO NOT call when children are to be readied for school, or too near mealtime.
3. WHERE TO CONDUCT SURVEY: Conduct your interview at the door. Avoid going inside, this only causes delay.
4. THINGS YOU MUST DO: a. Be brief and be a good listener.
b. Be friendly. This person is a friend regardless of party affiliation.
c. Leave on a note of friendliness.
d. Have all the answers, if possible. If you cannot answer a question, admit it, but promise to get the information and call again. You will have paved the way for in important second call.
e. Leave an appropriate piece of literature, if possible.
f. You must confine yourself to Party principles and administration.
g. Be sure to indicate the Democratic precinct organization is at the service of each voter. We support all elected Democrats and candidates.
5. THINGS YOU MUST NOT DO: a. Never begin the conversation, "Are you a Democrat or Republican?"
b. Never get into controversial issues.
c. Never debate.
d. Never make derogatory remarks about any Democrat organization, candidate, or elected official.
e. Never make statements about opposition candidates you cannot prove.
f. Never antagonize.
6. HOW TO BEGIN
Know, if possible, the name of the person on whom you are contacting. The name may be obtained from Data Center lists (See Appendix D), neighbors, or even the mailbox. If you are unable to find out the voter's name, don't be afraid to ask once you have introduced yourself. Remember to be pleasant and smile. Introduce yourself. Say, "My name is ______________, and I am representing the Democrat Party."
a. If at any point during the interview the resident proves to be a dedicated Republican, politely conclude the interview after confirming their name and thank the person for their time. DO NOT get drawn into a debate or argument.
b.If the person remains open to your interview, proceed by asking the following questions:
1. May I ask you a few questions?
2. May I have your full name?
3. Are you registered to vote at your present address? If the answer is "no", tell
them how to register or make an address change even if they turn out to be Republican.
4. Which of the following describes you best?
Leaning Democrat (LD)
Leaning Republican (LR)
Note if they respond Independent (I), Split Ticket (S), or No Response (NR)
5. Are there others of voting age living in your home? May I have their names?
(be sure to note "Mr.", "Miss", etc.)
6. Are there any persons in your household that will turn 18 soon, or within the next two years?
7. Are there any others at this address 18 years or older who are not registered to vote? (IF ANSWER IS YES, try to survey them as well. Get the names and print them on the sheet next to the house number and continue)
8. How would you like to volunteer to work for the Democratic Party? (Indicate how they would like to volunteer (see Section 2)
7. OTHER QUESTIONS TO ASK IF THEY ARE CONFIRMED DEMOCRATS
a.Will anyone in the family need or prefer an Absentee Ballot (See Appendix D)
b.Will anyone need transportation on Election Day? (See Appendix F)
c.Will anyone need a babysitter (See Appendix F)
8. KNOW ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS THAT MAY BE ASKED:
a. Where do I vote?
(the answers for questions a, b, and c can be looked up at http://clerk.slco.org/index.html)
b. What precinct am I in?
c. How do I find out if am registered to vote? (Appendix C)
d. How do I register to vote? (Appendix C)
e. Where to I register to vote? (Appendix C)
f. Which political parties select their candidates for any given office if they do not win 60% of the delegate vote at county or state convention. The UTGOP has a closed primary, which means that only those who have affiliated as Republicans can vote.)
g. When is the general election? Can anyone vote? (the first Tuesday in November from 8:00a-7:00p; yes, anyone can vote)
h. What does your party stand for? (An intelligent, well-thought out and practiced answer could result in extra votes for the Party) (Section 3)
i. When is the primary? Can an independent vote?
j. Who are the candidates? What is their background and what are their statements
k. What can I do to help the Party (see Section 2 & Appendix F)
l. Who is the County Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary & Treasurer?
m. Are there any Democratic Clubs around here? How do I join? Where do I get bumper stickers, buttons, and campaign literature? (Talk to your county party officials for this information.)
n. Who's in charge of my precinct? (You!)
APPENDIX B- How to Register Voters
A. Registration basics
It is the duty of Precinct leaders to register every Democrat and Democrat-leaning voter in the Precinct. The basics of a voter registration program include:
-- From the voter contacts, determine who is not registered as a Democrat
-- Call on and furnish information on how, where and when to register as a Democrat.
-- Know who is eligible to register as a Democrat and vote-
a. Any U.S. citizen, not otherwise disenfranchised;
b. 18 years or older (by election day that year)
c. Resident in the State of Utah or at least thirty (30) days prior to the election.
B. Common Registration Questions
(look up answers at: http://clerk.slco.org/index.html)
-- Am I registered to vote?
2. When can you register to vote?
-- What documentation is required to register?
-- How can military personnel register to vote?
5. Once you have registered, do you ever have to register gain if you continue to vote while living at the same address? No.
-- What if a voter is unable to register due to disability or illness? The voter may register by affidavit. Call the county clerk's office for help.
-- Do you have to register again if you move? Yes.
APPENDIX C- How to Get Out the Vote (GOTV)
A. Absentee Ballots (AB) Many people don't know they are eligible to vote by absentee ballot. It is your job to remind them and help them anticipate their Election Day needs.
-- AB Push Often the State Party will produce an "absentee ballot" literature piece that include instructions and request card form the local County Elections office.
The purpose for the State initiative is to garner as many Democratic votes as possible. It is critical that this task is planned for on your calendar. The State Party and candidates track who has requested absentee ballots and when they have been received by the election office. Timelines are critical, so watch for information about these events several months before an election.
Prior to Election Day, the Precinct committee should schedule an absentee ballot drive.
A. As part of the Voter Contact Drive (see Section 3), a list from information obtained of Democrats and leaning-Democrats who have indicated that they will need an absentee ballot should be compiled.
B. Form teams to contact the persons identified and remind them how to request an absentee ballot. You may want to send a letter including information and the proper form for requesting a ballot. This information can be found at: <INSERT WEBSITE>
2. AB Chase Plan to follow-up. It is important to maintain a master list of names & phone numbers of everyone that was contacted for absentee ballots. Additionally, in September, request from your County Clerk (INSERT WEB ADDRESS) to be notified either daily or weekly of everyone in your precinct who has requested an absentee ballot. Check those individuals with your records of who has either identified themselves as a Democrat or has indicated that they will be voting for the Democratic candidates. Follow up with them as soon as possible to remind them to return their absentee ballot.
Prior to the deadline for application, contact and remind everyone who has not done so to nail or deliver their ballot to the election office. Update the master list if they say they have voted. 10 days prior to the election, your committee should again call all people whose ballots have not been completed to urge them to do so.
The procedure for voting by absentee ballot (or Vote by Mail) is simple:
-- The voter must request an absentee ballot form the County Clerk. The absentee ballot can be voted immediately, or voters can request the ballot be mailed to their home (or alternate). The request must be in to the County Clerk no later than _____ days prior to Election Day.
A. The voter marks the ballot, seals the ballot in the appropriate envelope provided. The return envelope must be mailed to delivered to the Clerk who issued it; if mailed, it MUST ARRIVE PRIOR TO ELECTION DAY. If it is hand delivered, it MUST BE RECEIVED in the election office by ____ pm on the day of the election.
B. Final 72 hours The weekend before Election Day is the last opportunity to remind every Democrat or confirmed support of Democratic candidates, typically by phone, when and where to vote:
-- The script should be short: "Hi, may I please speak with _____. I am calling on behalf of the ________ County Democrats to remind you to vote on Tuesday at (your polling place). Have a nice day!"
-- It is also helpful to follow up with voters to make sure they know where the polling place is and whether or not they will need assistance getting there.
-- DO NOT campaign or contact voters on Sunday.
C. Election Day By Election Day, volunteers should be organized and assigned specific duties. Teams of volunteers are needed to support voting efforts. These include:
-- Preparation of voter lists and telephone committee using prepared lists of voters who have voted and who still need to vote, should call voters during the Election Day to encourage them to vote. Every one to two hours someone should go to the polls to pick up the records of those who have voted and bring them back to precinct headquarters. you should then cross off the names of those who have voted on your voter list. In the afternoon, you should start calling those favorable voters on the list who have not voted. You should concentrate first on any voters whose work schedules would allow voting during the morning and afternoon. This is an ongoing task on Election Day.
-- Poll watchers
-- Drivers to pick up voters on Election Day
Someone should always be at the Precinct Headquarters to answer questions and solve problems as the day progresses. The activity occupying most of the time at Headquarters is the effort to get out the Democratic vote.
NOTE: DISABLED VOTER ASSISTANCE AT THE POLLS
APPENDIX D- HOW TO IMPLEMENT A FINANCE CAMPAIGN
A neighborhood finance campaign is the most effective way to enlist virtually every Democratic household in getting active in the Party. Not only does it help advertise the Party's candidates and positions, but a person who contributes to the Party, even if only a dollar, if far more likely to follow-up with a vote for the candidates they supported financially.
The Precinct Treasurer is your person responsible for collecting donations and leading fundraising activities within the precinct.
You will often be soliciting for a specific "endorsement ad" or other campaign message on a local newspaper or radio station. Any contribution, no matter how small, should be accepted with gratitude and follow-up with a formal "Thank You" from the Party.
Submit all contributions to the County Party Treasurer as soon as possible, along with the list of contributors including full name, full address, and the contribution amount. Always ask if the contribution can be used for general campaign expenses or if the contribution needs to be designated for a specific candidate, event or use.
APPENDIX E- Definitions of Volunteer Opportunities
BLOCK CAPTAIN This person is responsible for all households on their block (see Section 3). This individual may be asked to contact voters or distribute campaign materials to their assigned block.
POLL WATCHER Ideally, one poll watcher is required for each two
* hour period on Primary and General Election days. The Poll Watcher will record who has voted so favorable voters who have not yet voted can be contacted and encouraged to vote.
At the Primary Election, each political party plus each candidate participating in the primary shall be entitled to have a poll watcher at each precinct polling place. At the General Election, only the parties are entitled to have poll watchers. The duties of the poll watcher include:
*To observe voting and counting procedures, reporting any questionable procedure to the County Clerk or County Headquarters; and *To maintain a list of those who have voted. Poll watchers should follow these instructions:
-- Don't let socializing interfere with your job or hinder election procedures.
-- Be prompt and be at the polling place on time; you may be relieving another volunteer. Do not leave the polling place until the person watching the polls after you has arrived.
-- Don't forget to vote yourself!
-- The first poll watchers should request the list of absentee voters from the judges. Indicate these in your records.
-- Do not wear political buttons or other political decoration. Do not engage in political discussion.
Utah Code calls for the Precinct Chair to recommend persons for this position in their respective precincts to the county clerk in writing at least ten (10) days prior to the date on which any appointment shall be made and the county clerk shall appoint the judges from such lists if the persons recommended are qualified. This is the only paid job in the precinct, so you should choose people who have been and will continue to be good party workers. Precinct leaders should not be judges and thus prevent yourself from functioning as a Democratic official in charge of your precinct on Election Day.
WCDPU Precinct Chair Manual
Acknowledgements: We’d like to thank the Washington Democrats for providing the valuable ideas and resources for this guide.