Election Guidance: Time to Get Out The Vote

OFA has been saying all along that 2018 is a pivotal year for the issues we care about—an opportunity for us to hold representatives accountable at the ballot box and make sure that our communities are represented by elected officials who will uphold their constituents’ interests.

It’s one of our biggest moments to elect leaders who will actually represent us; to ensure our congressional maps will be fairly drawn in 2020; and to support ballot initiatives that enact progress directly at the ballot box on issues we’ve been fighting for, like Medicaid expansion and bolstering voting rights.

With the election on Tuesday, November 6, just days away and many states in the midst of early vote—now is the time to get out the vote (GOTV).

Use this guide to find ways to take action, share your work with OFA and on social media as you GOTV, and find the tools and resources you need to make your GOTV efforts as effective as possible.

And don’t worry—this guide is for everyone. Whether you’re a first-time action taker, you’ve been organizing day-in and day-out, or you’re somewhere in between—this guide will help you to be successful in your role as an OFA organizer through Election Day and beyond.


Getting started

OFA has been working in 27 priority House districts, on state level races that impact redistricting, and on key ballot initiatives that we can enact directly at the ballot box this year. You can find our priority races at ofa.us/2018.

Regardless of whether you live in one of these OFA priority states or districts, we are asking everyone to get involved by preparing to vote, taking action to support candidate or issue campaigns that impact your community, and ensuring that your networks get out to vote.

One easy way you can find an opportunity to support a campaign is by heading to OFA’s volunteer sign-up site (ofa.bo/mobilizeofa) to find a canvass or phone-bank near you or find remote ways to plug into priority campaigns.  You can sign up for multiple shifts between now and Election Day!


Your role as a member of OFA

OFA is made up of volunteers, organizers, and leaders just like you from all across the country. We’re here to organize on the issues we care about in this election—but we are also here to organize and mobilize our communities for years to come.


As such, we want to lift-up and amplify all of the amazing work you’re doing. We want to share the stories of why you and your teams are #Organizingfor18 and getting involved now to change your community for the better. That way, potential first-time action-takers are able to see the impact of your work and know they can be part of this movement.

In order for us to do that, we’re asking you to do the following between now and Election Day:

  • Take action photos of the work that you’re doing. When you’re out canvassing, phone banking, attending a rally or candidate event—take a photo of yourself to share with us! Photos that show you in the neighborhood with a walk packet or on the phone are preferred to group shots. Make sure you’re wearing your OFA shirt (contact [email protected] if you need one). For guidance on taking great photos, refer to our OFA photography tips guide.

  • Share your posts daily on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Use the following hashtags: #OFAction and #OrganizingFor18 so we can easily find them! For guidance on using social media before, during and after your canvass or phone bank, check out our OFA tips for using social media guide.

  • Send us your stories about why you are Organizing for ’18. We want to hear about the people you meet, the volunteers you’re working with, the excitement of getting someone to commit to vote, and the ways you’re leading your community. Please email us at [email protected] and let us know:

    • What events you’re planning on attending or have attended

    • How many people you recruited and are working with

    • Any stories about why you, or someone you met, is #OrganizingFor18 this year

    • Any stories you have of getting someone to commit to vote this year


The most impactful ways to make a difference in this election

The three most impactful ways for OFA volunteers to take action this election are:

  1. Canvassing by knocking on doors. A voter’s likelihood to get to the polls in an election can increase as much as 7-8% when they have a meaningful, face-to-face interaction about voting. The closer to the election, the more likely it is that folks will turn out when they are asked directly.

    Generally, a door packet is an average of 20 doors in rural communities, 40-50 doors in suburban communities, and as many as 80-100 doors in high-density communities! It’s important that you finish your packet—you may be the only person who will knock on someone’s door!

    Find a canvass event near you at ofa.bo/mobilizeofa, or connect with a local campaign in your community.
  2. Making phone calls. Calling voters with a group, or individually, on behalf of a campaign is a great way to reach a high number of voters in a short amount of time. Making phone calls can reach voters whose are otherwise unreachable or live in communities that are very spread out. This is also a great way for folks who are in less competitive districts or states to add capacity to priority districts.

    Generally, a standard phone shift is an average of 50 calls, though many folks can make as many as 100 calls. Remember: You won’t talk to everyone on your list. Making phone calls is more about talking well to the folks who do pick up—and making sure they make a plan to vote.

    Find a phone bank at ofa.bo/mobilizeofa, or connect with a local campaign in your community.
  3. Getting the people you know ready to vote. No matter what you do, you have the power to have impactful conversations with the people in your life—your friends, family, co-workers, classmates, and acquaintances. Because you have a relationship with them, you have a unique opportunity to ask them to commit to vote this November—especially those who do not regularly vote. As you are a trusted messenger, they will more likely listen when you ask them to make a plan to vote.

    Relational organizing isn’t new. It works because we know that reaching out to someone you already know—who trusts you—is more effective than having a conversation with a stranger. But it takes time and a little planning—start preparing by using our friend-mapping guide to identify the people you’ll start talking to at ofa.bo/friend-mapping.

While OFA won’t be getting involved in actions such as poll-watching or rides-to-the polls, you can refer to the resources page for more information.


Key dates and actions to help get out the vote

We suggest using these resources in order to have the greatest impact during this election cycle. Think of it as a menu of sorts—you don’t necessarily need to do all of these actions, though if you have the time, we recommend you do! You can pick and choose what works best for you and your schedule.

From now until Election Day:

  • Map out the canvasses or phone banks you’re going to participate in and mark them on your calendar. Use ofa.bo/mobilizeofa to RSVP for canvasses and phone banks in your community. And we highly recommend you bring a friend or two! If you live outside of an OFA priority district or state, you can search for a virtual phone bank to call into a priority district using ofa.bo/OF18phone-team or contact a local campaign you’re supporting.

  • Volunteer for The Last Weekend through Election Day, November 6. Sign up today and be one of the millions who commits to making a difference on The Last Weekend (Nov. 3-6).  With Election Day this close, we need to be ready for this final push by making as many calls and knocking as many doors as we can—we don’t want any votes left on the table! If you've already done a few shifts, take another and invite a friend (or 2). If you haven't gotten involved yet, now is the time.

  • Join the OFA Phone Bank Team, and recruit your community to make calls with you. As we want to make sure we are talking to as many people as we possibly can, we would love to have folks join the OFA Phone Bank Team to add capacity to our priority districts and states. Plan out days you’ll be available to host phone banks and mark them on your calendar—the typical phone bank shift lasts 2-4 hours and consists of 50-100 calls per person. We ask that folks who sign-up for this host at least 4 phone banks between now and Election Day: Sign-up now and let us know what phone banks you'll be hosting.

  • Identify at least 5 people in your network you will ask to turn out to vote this year. This means making sure they’re registered and have made a concrete plan to vote. You’ll text, call, or have in-person conversations with them on a continual basis—right up until they have confirmed they have voted. Start here by using OFA's Friend Mapping Guide.


Things that everyone (including you) should do!

  • Make your plan to vote. We have 2 goals when having GOTV conversations: 1) A commitment to vote and 2) a concrete plan to get to the polls (including when, where, how). Use the OFA Make Your Plan to Vote Tool to find a date, time and polling location that is most convenient for you!

    • If you need a bit of support on how to have these conversations, check out our GOTV training: ofa.bo/bootcamphost.

  • Research your ballot ahead of time. Nothing is better than walking into your voting booth knowing exactly how you plan on voting! Our OFA Voter Guide will help you view every race on your ballot, compare candidates, and build a sample ballot you can print out or send to your phone to take with you to the polls. Share this far and wide! ofa.us/lets-get-ready-to-vote/

Thank you for all you are doing and will do in the next few weeks. Please share on social media using #OrganizingFor18— and don’t forget to wear your OFA shirt!


GOTV resources

OFA Voter Contact Resources

OFA Mobilize page: ofa.bo/mobilizeofa
Mobilize is a tool that aggregates multiple events from campaigns into one convenient place. Use this link to find voter contact events in our priority districts and states. You can easily search by event type, by campaign or by zip code.You can also find virtual phone banks here, so everyone has an opportunity to make an impact on a competitive race this year.

The Last Weekend: thelastweekend.org/ofa
Made up of a broad coalition of leading progressive political organizations, The Last Weekend is an unprecedented cultural and political initiative to catalyze nationwide volunteering leading up to and including the last weekend before the midterm elections (Sat 11/3 - Tues 11/6). By combining forces, the coalition of more than 70 groups is asking energized voters to commit to doing high-impact voter contact work on the most critical weekend of the electoral calendar, when studies show GOTV efforts are the most effective.

OFA Voter Guide: ofa.us/lets-get-ready-to-vote/
This very helpful tool makes it so easy for you to be prepared before you head to the ballot box. You can view every race on your ballot, compare candidates, and build a sample ballot you can print out or send to your phone to take with you to the polls.

OFA Make Your Plan to Vote: ofa.us/make-your-plan-to-vote/
This tool is meant to work in conjunction with the Voter Guide. Once you have determined who you will vote for, the Make Your Plan to Vote Tool will help you make a concrete plan by providing you with options about when and where you will vote. You can save your plan to your calendar and opt in to send yourself a text and/or email reminder!


Expand the Electorate

Friend Mapping Guide: ofa.bo/friend-mapping
One of the easiest ways to make sure we’re not leaving any votes on the table is by reaching out to the folks in our networks, especially those who don’t always vote in midterm elections. Use our Friend Mapping exercise to help identify those people and map out your conversations with them.

Vote With Me: votewithme.us
VoteWithMe uses voter history to help identify who needs your encouragement the most. You can use this with the Friend Mapping to help you identify those who need a nudge to turn out to vote this November.

Note: This isn’t perfect, but it’s an opportunity to touch base with the folks in your network.

Voter Protection Information

For any questions regarding voting rights and voter protection before or on election day, we recommend you call 866-OUR-VOTE. You can also check-out this national, non-partisan coalition group by visiting their website.


Other Helpful Links

Lyft is offering discounted rides on Election Day
They are offering some free rides for some organizations, so if any of you are in contact with (or want to reach out to) folks working with those non-profits in their areas, you should check with them to see the best way to coordinate:

  • Urban League

  • National Federation of the Blind

  • Voto Latino

  • Faith in Action

  • League of Women Voters

Campaign Help Desk from our friends at Ragtag 
There are security trainings and great tips on securing your email, WiFi and other information for organizations, volunteers and campaigns. Feel free to take advantage of these free trainings and information.