John Tsarpalas: Commonwealthy Podcast# 42, “Get Out the Vote in a Political Campaign.” Kristina Keats and I talked about the basics of the “Get Out the Vote” plan. How you’ve been voter ID-ing right along through the campaign, making phone calls, knocking doors and finding out who’s supporting you, and then putting that into a good database. Well, today, I decided we needed to get more specific.
We didn’t get into enough detail on the different points in the “Get Out the Vote” plan, early voting, absentee voting, and Election Day strategies. That’s what we’re calling it, and this is Commonwealthy #47.
Kristina Keats is here with me, and we want to drill down and be much more specific about “Get Out the Vote” in relationship to absentee ballot periods, early voting periods, the weekend before the election, and Election Day because there’s different strategies and different thoughts going on in each one, and I wanted to make sure that we not only talk about partisan races but nonpartisan races. Because I think nonpartisan races are even harder, right, Tina?
Kristina: Well, it’s harder to do the targeting.
John: Right, exactly.
Kristina: Because “Get Out the Vote” is always hard.
John: Yes, it is. So let’s start with…okay, you’ve been out there making calls for your candidate, and/or you’ve got your issue ID. You’ve been out there asking people if they’re worried about the local school bond referendum that’s coming or they’re worried about their property taxes and things like that that would be going on in a local race.
And you’ve been putting that into your voter database, and you’ve been building that database. And you’ve set goals for every precinct and for the whole district of how many people you need to know are supporting you. As you’ve been cutting your pluses, those people that are supporting you, and your minuses, those people that are voting against you, and those that are still undecided, you should be closing in on whether you’re going to win or lose and where you’re at. But you haven’t won until you get them to the polls.
So we’re going to take it from getting them to the polls. And usually, in most states, the first form of voting that’s available in terms of the calendar is absentee, right?
Kristina: Correct. In most states, absentee is very specific. You either have to be out of the district at the time of the election, or you’re ill and you can’t get to the polls.
Kristina: You’re in a nursing home or something like that.
John: Right. My father’s in a nursing home. I’m going to get him an absentee ballot this year.
Kristina: Right. It’s a very small slice, but it’s one that as you were making your calls, you should have identified people if they said that they were going to be out of town, or if you knew they were in a nursing home. And those should be the people you target for the absentee ballot. And you target them very early because it’s a long process. You have to mail them the application, they have to fill it back, fill it out, mail it back, and then eventually, they get their ballot, which they have to fill out and send back.
John: Right. Now, let me jump in here quick. How do you know about these people? When you’re going door to door, you can often get a conversation going, they’ll say, “Oh, I’m supporting John Doe,” and you’ll say, “That’s great. Anybody else in the household that might be supporting him?” And you are literally asking, “They might be out of town during the election? Do you have any students that are registered to vote, or need to get registered to vote?” And this will shake their memory a little bit. That, “Oh, yeah, Betty is off to college.” Betty, no one’s named Betty anymore.
But anyway, “Heather is at college” or “Brittany is off to college and she’s registered to vote here, and she’ll be voting for us. So she needs an absentee ballot. Oh, and my dad’s registered to vote here, but unfortunately, he’s in a nursing home now.” That’s how you find that out.
John: And you need to get that into your database, so you can work it at this moment. Back to Tina.
Kristina: Also when you’re phoning, once you identify a supporter, again, you should ask, “Is there any chance you’ll be needing an absentee ballot?”
Kristina: And you can just ask, and the question about…because you should have your database when you’re phoning. You can say, “Well, I see that you have two other voters in the household who are between the ages of 18 and 21.” You don’t say that. “Are they going to be voting here?” Or they may be home sometime…everybody isn’t off to school. But you’ve got that data and you ask when you’re doing your phoning.
But again, when it comes to the absentee ballot, you actually want that to be your last resort tool. And the reason why is so many states have early voting, which we’ll talk about in a minute. And you will always prefer to have someone vote early than absentee. Because the absentee process is so complicated and oftentimes people will mail their ballot too late and then it doesn’t get counted, etc.
John: Let me also interject my vote fraud story here. Okay, Illinois passed early voting in 2004 going in 2005. So the first cycle was 2006. I’m now the Executive Director of the Illinois Republican Party in 2005 and ’06.
So in the past, the absentee ballots would then be driven around to each polling place the morning of the election by the Board of Elections, and delivered for the election judges in the polling place to count. That was the old way; they’d count the absentee ballots at the end of the night, and they’d put them in the ballot box in the morning. But they would take them off the roll and the eligibility to vote.
In Illinois, they changed it. And all the absentee ballots went to the county Board of Elections. So I go on election night with two election law attorneys, representing the state party, to witness the count of the absentee ballots. And we get there, and there’re thousands of ballots stacked up next to this counting machine.
However, and we threw a fit, they had all been taken out of the envelopes that mailed them back and piled up. And in our complaints, the Board of Elections says, “The law says you get to witness the counting of them. It doesn’t say you get to witness the taking them out of the envelopes.”
Kristina: So you don’t know who they came from?
John: We have no idea who they came from.
Kristina: So that person could have voted already…
John: Could have voted twice, or they might have checked them off. They said they checked them off, but here’s what we don’t know. There’s a stack of ballots and no envelopes. How do I know the Cook County Board of Elections, which is run by Democrats, didn’t stick 100 or 200 or 10,000 absentee ballots in this stack that they generated? Now, I don’t know. Do I believe they’re honest in Cook County? No.
So there’s no checks and balance on that. So we literally left. We said, “We don’t care what the count is, you’ve already tainted it.” And we left. And this has never been changed.
Kristina: Was that ever adjudicated?
John: Never, because they never had the money to spend on it. So it still operates like that.
Kristina: The Republicans never had the money?
John: The Republicans didn’t have the money to do it. It never went to court. So it still operates like that in Illinois.
Kristina: Right. Which is ridiculous.
John: So absentee is fraught with trouble. And I’m actually going to do a podcast on vote fraud, because nursing homes and absentee ballots in nursing homes are fraught with trouble, too, but we’ll get into that in another podcast.
Kristina: Right, but yeah. That’s why you don’t want your…because here’s the other thing they can do, is if when they open it, they see you voted Republican in Cook County, they can throw it away.
John: They throw it in the garbage, right.
Kristina: And here’s the other thing. They could check it in that you voted, but they don’t actually put the ballot through the machine. You don’t even know that they threw your vote away.
Kristina: There are so many ways to commit fraud with absentee ballots especially. The old days, you’re right; when they had to deliver it to the precinct, the big advantage of that is you didn’t open the absentee ballots until after the polls were closed. So if you opened a ballot and someone had already voted, the rule was you threw away the absentee ballot. Now, there are problems with fraud there. If somebody finds out you’re planning to vote absentee, then they can go claim to be you, sign in, vote your ballot.
John: Yeah, there’s a whole bunch of ways to cheat, right.
Kristina: But the problem is, there are ways to cheat with absentee ballots.
John: Right. And the overseas ballots; how many times do we hear stories of, “Oh, they found a bag of military ballots that never got counted after the election?” And the military vote tends to go Republican and of course, that just happens.
Kristina: And it tends to not get counted, especially in blue states.
John: And how wrong is that? Someone being of service to their country and their vote’s not getting counted? Anyway, all right, back to absentee.
Kristina: So absentee, it’s a tool that you use but only as a last resort. So if you know someone says, “Well, we’ll be traveling that week.” In most states, you have three weeks of early voting before the election. That would be a high target for pushing for early voting. And also, believe it or not, most people don’t realize how corrupt the voting process is. Not everywhere; I’ll say that, it’s not corrupt everywhere. Risk of corruption everywhere. The whole thing that just happened in Iowa with Hillary having coin tosses. A lot of people who were voting were claiming that it wasn’t a tie.
So there is always the risk of corruption. Corruption is only effective when the race is somewhat close. If there is a 10-point spread between the winner and the loser, it’s really hard to make that up with corruption.
Kristina: But two-point, absentee ballots are a last resort. Because the other thing is, in a lot of jurisdictions, they won’t even count the absentee ballot unless the election is close enough that the absentee ballots can swing an election. So if you want people’s votes to count, you need to get them in during the regular process.
Which leads us to early voting. In early voting, in most states, it starts three weeks before Election Day. Now, it’s not as easy as voting on Election Day because you usually only have a few locations…
John: They’re more limited, correct.
Kristina:…vote early. You have so many hours available to do it. You’ve got every day during the week, and then usually on Saturdays for four hours. And if someone can’t find the time to vote early, how are they going to get there on Election Day?
Kristina: Because it’s got limited time.
John: Okay, so who are we targeting to get there?
Kristina: Okay, the people you want to target for “Get Out the Vote,” in general, is you start with the ones who are most at risk of not voting. The people who you can see, you look at their voting record and they vote every single election, leave them alone. They’re going to vote. Don’t waste your money, your time, or your energy on trying to get them to vote.
That doesn’t mean you don’t try to secure the vote. That’s what we talk about: persuasion and phoning, and knock on doors to secure it, that’s one thing. But once you’ve gotten the vote for that heavy-duty voter, let’s say, or the 100% probability of voting…
John: Yeah, the person that’s voted in the last four elections, both the primary and the general. They never skip anything.
Kristina: You can tell by the voting records, and you’ve got the voting record. Anyone involved in your campaign is probably a voter like that. And just think, would you need a phone call to get to the polls?
John:Well, let me throw a caveat in here. If they’re a volunteer with your campaign, you’re going to need them on Election Day, and they might not have time to vote. So ask them to vote early so that they’re free to volunteer. And we need to talk about volunteers here, too. How much manpower do we line up? We’ll get into that. But anyway…
Kristina: Right. But the point is that don’t even bother with the people who vote all the time. Don’t even bother with the people who vote 75% of the time. The people you start with are the ones that you have identified who haven’t ever voted in an election, let’s say.
John: But say they’re voting for you?
Kristina: Right. But say they’re going to vote you. They might be new voters, they might just be lazy voters; it doesn’t matter. They are highly at risk of not voting. Then you go to the next level are the people who have only voted in one election out of four, let’s say, and you go after them. And then, the people who go two out of four.
So you keep going, working, working, working, but working on the people least likely to vote, not most likely to vote. And the good news is that you can get the information, usually, not everywhere; some jurisdictions aren’t sophisticated. But the sophisticated ones can give you an e-mail list every day of the people who have voted.
And then you plug that into your database, so if you start out with, let’s say, 30,000 people that you’ve targeted to vote early, after the first day of early voting, you’ve got it down to 28,400. And it keeps getting smaller and smaller, but you keep working the phones and knocking the doors and making the calls to get people to vote, and get commitments.
Say you call Joe Blow and you say, “We really need your vote and you can vote early, and here’s where you can vote.” This is why it’s so important because you’re getting them the information of how they do it. Because most people won’t know where they’re supposed to vote early. You could do a robo call on where to vote early, and that would go to everybody, even the people who vote every time. Because they may vote every time, but they haven’t checked in to where I vote early this time, because it can change. And so, they’ll be appreciative of the robo call that tells them where to vote.
But then once the voting starts, you keep hammering the people who are going to vote for you, to get them to the polls early. If you do it right, you’ve won the election before Election Day. Especially in small races and local races.
Kristina: And I can tell you story after story of how we came out of early voting 10 points ahead of our opponent.
John: Sure. And you can actually win. If you can drive all your vote to early voting and you know you’ve got enough pluses, and you know they’ve got there, you pretty much count…you’ve won it at that point.
Kristina: Right. And you keep going on Election Day to get the rest of that vote out.
Kristina:But since early voting is really a gift to a well-organized, well-motivated campaign, because you can get your vote in before Election Day. And if you’ve got the voters who are the four-time voters that say, “I like to vote on Election Day,” leave them alone. They’re going to vote. The only way they’re not going to vote is they got killed in a car accident the day before Election Day. But even if they are on death’s door and think they’re going to die, then they’ll vote absentee.
John: Probably. They’re motivated, yes.
John: All right, so let’s talk about realities of the phone calls and reaching people. Are you using automated calls? You’re using live phone banking or door knocking? What are we doing?
Kristina: There have actually been studies, you can use the robo call, the automatic call, to give people the information of where to vote early.
John: Right. Because they don’t often know where that polling place is. And so, your call should usually include where they can go to do that and the hours?
Kristina: Right. But I would recommend an automated call with the voting early information and possibly a mailer to your identified plus voters with where they vote early. But there have actually been studies, and the only thing that changes voting behavior in terms of voting or not voting is a personal phone call.
You can’t do a mailer…I mean, I know that they claim that those mailers where “We know you don’t vote.” No. They’re actually…I think Princeton did a study. The only thing that changes voting behavior in terms of getting people to vote and who might not have voted is a personal phone call or a personal knock on the door.
And with the early voting, the great thing is you can call them on Monday and say, “Joe, we really need your vote. Do you think you can go?” And Joe says, “Yeah, I’ll go tomorrow after work.” So you put that in your computer and then on Wednesday, if you see that Joe hasn’t voted, you call him back and say, “Joe, we really need your vote and you didn’t vote on Tuesday like you said you would.”
Now, some people…”Well, how do you know that?” You say, “Because it’s public record who votes.” Because it is public record who votes. It’s not public how you vote.
Kristina: This is where, yeah, you do have to guilt people into voting. Because a lot of people, they mean to vote, they have good intentions of voting, but they don’t quite get to the polls. And they can give you a million and one excuses. That’s why early voting is so good because if they know that you’re going to know that they can vote…after you’ve called Joe and say, “You told us you were going to vote yesterday and you didn’t do it. We really need your vote.” And Joe is embarrassed and goes and votes.
And it sounds obnoxious, but it works, and you can’t afford to…
John: Can’t afford not to get the vote.
Kristina: Right. If Joe doesn’t vote, you can say, “That’s okay, Joe. I understand. You’re busy.” No. You have to say, “Joe, this really matters. Your vote matters.” And it’s not a negative thing. You’re saying to the person, “You’re important. We need you.”
And that’s how you do it. The mechanics of it, of how you get the list from your county clerk, that’s what you have to go figure that out. But it’s doable and you need a good data person who can bring that data in, and generate new lists of who you need to be calling and knocking on their door to get the vote out. But it is so critical.
You can see it in the Iowa elections, in the Republican Primary in 2016, Trump was going to win it. Well, a lot of Trump supporters are not Republican Primary voters. They are independent. And people call them independent; I prefer to call them the “unengaged.” It means they don’t care that much about politics. And those are the kinds of voters that are likely to not go vote. “Oh, they got busy, their kid has a runny nose, they forgot they had to grocery shopping.”
John: And they haven’t voted before, they don’t know how to do it. And in case of a Caucus, in Iowa, it’s much more complicated and they’re like, “Gosh, that’s an intimidating thing to go to.”
Kristina: That’s an important point because when you are calling those unengaged, or unlikely to vote, whatever you want to call them, “independent,” be aware. They’re not like you. They don’t pay attention that much and it’s not a high priority. They’ll vote, “Yeah, I’m going to really…” but by definition, the fact that they don’t vote, they are less engaged.
And so, the fact that they don’t vote increases the probability that they won’t vote. And not only do you have to remind them that their vote is important, but you have to remind them where they go vote. “Don’t forget, you’re at the church on the corner of blah, blah, and blah, blah. That’s where you vote, and it opens at 7 and closes at 7.” Or whatever. You give them the information they need to vote. And then if they say, “No, I’m so busy,” you have to just keep persuading. You can’t let that be…
John: You need urgency and you almost need to be pleading. And the closer it gets, the more the plead ramps up.
Kristina: Oh, yeah, always pleading.
John: I think you did it in the podcast we did on “Get Out the Vote” in a political campaign, Commonwealthy #42. You said it like this. You can’t say it like, “Please go vote.” You said, “No, this election is important, and it’s going to be very close.” And I don’t care if you’re blowing out your opponent, you’re going to say, “This is very important. It’s urgent that you get there to vote. We cannot win without you.”
Kristina: It’s always very close because if they don’t vote, you lose.
Kristina: It’s never a blowout. I compare…asking for the vote is like getting a date. You don’t get a date by calling up and saying, “I don’t have anything going on. Gee, maybe if you’re not having anything going on, maybe…” that’s not the way it works. If you’re pursuing, you have to ask and you have to beg. Because if you think about anything that you want; think about your child begging for a piece of candy. How does it work? You beg. Or a dog; dogs are the best beggars in the world. Take a page out of the book of a dog.
John: Okay. We’re giving some extreme examples here, but you have to have urgency, and you have to have importance, and you have to put a little guilt on them.
Kristina: The position. You are in the lowly position. They have something valuable to give you. And you need to beg for it. So that’s early voting. And then the final thing is the actual Election Day voting. And this can be…
John: Well, let’s talk about the weekend just before. Elections are on Tuesdays; you’ve got Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and then the Tuesday. Most campaigns ramp up over that weekend making reminder calls that “Tuesday is the election. Please get it on your schedule. It’s going to be important.”
Now, if you’ve got the manpower, you can also do it with a robo call. But anyway, is there other thoughts for that weekend before? But I have still been in persuasion mode that final weekend, too, calling independents.
Kristina: Absolutely. You persuade till the morning of.
Kristina: Especially…there’s very few elections that people are absolutely, totally decided, and I’m talking about the unengaged. The Republicans…even though they’re probably going to go vote Republican and the Democrats are probably going to vote Democrat, but you’ve got that middle group that decide late, and if you haven’t gotten in touch with all of them, the weekend before there is still a time to do it with door to door and phoning.
The other thing is, there’s a lot of preparation the weekend before because you need to print lists of everybody. You need to have the most accurate, up to date lists of the voter rolls. And most early voting in most states ends the Friday or Saturday before the election.
Kristina: So that means that you’ve got your final data if you’ve been getting your data every day about who’s early voting so that you know that weekend, the people who have not yet voted. You’ve got those listed because you’ve pulled out all the ones who have voted.
So again, you can concentrate on the places where you’re going to get the most results. Don’t call people who have already voted. What a waste of time, right?
Kristina: Anyway…and the way it’s going these days is pretty much half of the voters vote early. In a way, that makes Election Day less stressful because you only have half as many voters to round up. But you still have the same procedure. The weekend before, after closing of voting, you should have a complete list of all the voters in every precinct and an indication whether or not they voted, and whether or not they’re for you.
So that then, theoretically, if you have enough volunteers, on Election Day half of your voters still need to be pushed to the polls. And you still have a bunch of people in that group who are not regular voters, or motivated voters. Ideally, you have enough volunteers to put a poll watcher, which is a legal position, and you have to do the paperwork, etc. needed in your jurisdiction to make sure that your poll watchers can be in the polling place. They are literally sitting in the polling place. And as people come through, they mark off who’s voted. And they keep their little lists.
And then, if polling opens at 7 o’clock, around 10 o’clock in the morning you have people come and collect those lists. Actually, this day and age, it should all be electronic.
John: Well, if you’ve got the right system. For instance, one of our sponsors for Commonwealthy is Voter Gravity. You can do all that checkoff right on your smartphone.
Kristina: Right. And that’s the way you should do it.
John: But if you don’t have a person with a smartphone, you can set them up with a paper list, that’s how it used to be done. And they literally check it off.
Kristina: Yeah. And unfortunately, a lot of old people aren’t comfortable using smartphones, and they’re, oftentimes, your volunteers. But if you can, you get smartphones and you have people mark off as people are voting, and it’s going right directly to your database, pulling off those people.
And then you have people in your headquarters phoning the people who haven’t yet voted, and when they don’t have a phone, literally going to their door, knocking on the door urging them to go vote. And if they’re not home, then they leave a piece of paper in bright DayGlo colors in great big letters, “Please vote today,” and then the information on where they need to vote. “Please vote for…”
John: “Please” is too nice. Let’s go beyond that. Remember what we did in 2000? You had bright orange, big cards, and we taped it on the garage door. So as they pulled up with their car or they saw this big orange thing on their garage door and taped it to their front door and taped it to their back door…
Kristina: And their back door, yeah.
John:…because we don’t know what door they went in. And it said, “Urgent. It is a very close election. The polls close at 7. Please get there.”
Kristina: Right. Yeah, that’s better. Because you have to…
John: And we stressed the urgent…what do you mean “that’s better?” That’s what you wrote. And I stuck them on doors.
Kristina: That was a lot better than what I said.
John: I remember.
Kristina: Right. Well, you know, old brain syndrome. I can’t remember everything I did.
John: I know. I can’t either.
Kristina: But it was effective…
John: We won.
Kristina:…in that particular race. Our candidate won because of what we did…
John: Because of what we did.
Kristina:…in our township.
John: Right, so, yeah.
Kristina: And without our effort, he would not have become the congressman.
Kristina: This shows how a well-organized campaign can make a huge, huge difference. Because there’re just so many people who are marginal voters. And that’s why those are the ones that you focus on. But yeah, and then…
John: And remember how we many calls we got from people saying…or we heard later, “I voted because there was this big orange card on my door and it scared me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gone. But it scared me.” That’s what motivated them. People need to know that. They need to scare people to get there.
Kristina: And we were right.
John: Yeah. It was a very close race.
Kristina: It was a very close election.
John: We would have lost if it wasn’t for what we did.
Kristina: If they hadn’t gone, we would have lost.
Kristina: And that’s the whole thing. I don’t care how much you think you’re ahead, it doesn’t matter. Trump was ahead eight points going into Iowa, but he did not have a ground game and that was apparent. And of any of the candidates who needed a ground game, Trump needed it more because his voters, in general, were the unengaged.
John: Right. And they’re newer to the process, right.
John: But back to Election Day and that weekend before, something you need to start on long before, as you’re getting volunteers lined up and they’re making phone calls for you, and they’re knocking doors for you during the Voter ID period, you are then asking them to commit to you for that weekend before, and can they take off work and help you on Election Day?
Kristina: Right. You are recruiting…and people say, “Oh, I don’t have very much time.” You always say, “The most important day is Election Day. Can you give us four hours on Election Day?” If they’re not a volunteer that’s going to give you a lot of time, get them for Election Day.
Because even though you’re working on early voting, and you’re doing all the ID, and all this other stuff, you still have half your vote outstanding on Election Day. If you don’t have a strong ground game on Election Day, you will lose. It is everything; it’s the Big Kahuna. I can’t overestimate how much you need. And there’s never too many volunteers.
John: No. And the more there are in the morning, the better, because your list is bigger. However, in the afternoon, as you’re in more panic mode, and that’s when you’re sending people out going door to door to those houses that you haven’t gotten an answer from. And you have been leaving a voicemail message every time you call. With urgency in the voicemail message.
Kristina: Right. Well, ideally, you have a phone system that will dial for you and you push a button so that you don’t waste volunteer time…
John: Right, and if they’re using Voter Gravity, it’s a system like that where it dials for them, there’s a script on the screen, they check off what happens, and if they’re not home, you push a button and it automatically leaves a voice message. And you move onto the next dial, and the computer does that.
Kristina: And if you’re not doing that, you’re at a disadvantage and I don’t care how small your race is. Well, if you only have 500 voters…
John: Well, if you’re in a local election and it’s a small town, you can do this with paper. I get that. But it’s harder.
Kristina: You can. But why bother? It’s so cheap to do it electronically. Why would you make more work for yourself? Because elections take just huge amounts of manpower, even when everything is streamlined. And there’re too many people who are smart about using technology, and if you don’t figure it out, your opponent’s going to.
Kristina: Just make your life easier. And the electronics are getting better, and I’m sure Commonwealthy has some on technology and what the latest technology is.
John: Um-hum. We have a good one with…
Kristina: And if you don’t want to do the technology, find a volunteer who will. Which leaves you, you have to have a good, organized person who understands data, who can keep your data updated, get things printed quickly when you need them, etc. But you need that for the whole campaign, not just for Election Day. But Election Day is critical.
John: It’s all hands on deck for Election Day, and you’ve got to ask for those commitments at least a month before because people need to take off of work, people need to be there. Now, if this is a partisan race, the Democrats have it written into their labor union contracts to get the day off, and they’re all lined up. And literally, we come up against…gosh, a guy running for state rep, they said they had 1,000 teachers lined up to get out the vote. And they do. And our team is people who have to take off of work, we have some older folks who are retired, which is great, but you’ve got to line up volunteers.
Kristina: Well, I will say this so that you don’t lose faith or hope: the unions get a lot of people, and some of them are good, but a lot of them are…
John: They’re mopes, a lot of them, yes. They don’t know what they’re doing…
Kristina: They’re not that interested…
John:…they’re not fired up. They’ve got to do it to keep their job and they show up.
Kristina: They’re forced to do it to keep their job and they don’t really care, they don’t have the passion. Sometimes, they do, I’m not saying…so don’t be scared because there was, in the race in 2000 that we won, they…and see, this is where…we just worked a lot smarter. We ended up getting, I think, 56% of the vote in our township, something like that. And the opponents thought they were getting 60%. That’s how off they were in their grassroots.
They were so sure that they were going to just sweep, that I don’t think they really worked hard. They had 1,000 people, they had all these people, but they had really bad technology, too, back then. And it screwed them up; their lists were all screwed up. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. But the bottom line is…
John: Bottom line is they didn’t have Tina to keep going. Gosh, you and I…anyway…
Kristina: You always have to prepare. Have your technology working right; you’re ready to use it with technology. But I would never go into Election Day without paper backup.
John: Right. Stuff crashes.
Kristina: So that you have every precinct list printed that shows you where you are. Because you just don’t know. There’re dirty tricks where they’ll come and cut your cable cords, your Internet.
John: In the old days, they would come and cut wires. In the new days, they do denial of service attacks on websites. And they…
Kristina: They do all kinds of things.
John: So you’ve got to have paper backup going into everything and be prepared.
Kristina: Right. John’s going to do a whole thing on [inaudible 00:34:15] and dirty tricks. Because you’re foolish to not prepare for it. Don’t be naive about what can’t happen, because it does happen…
John: I’ve had it happen.
Kristina: So have your paper backup ready. And understand how you would do it if you have to using paper. Paper backup means that you have to have a copy that can go into the precinct and another copy that’s in your office so that you can track it. But I would have probably three copies of each precinct ready to roll so you can put one in the precinct in the morning, pick it up at 10 o’clock, leave a new list that you could pick up at 2.
After 2, you’re just…all hands are getting the vote out and not checking it off. Because at that point, you’re in last minute mode. You want the people who have been checking to be going to the door knocking, and to be making phone calls, and to do whatever. You want to put all your resources on pushing the vote. Because at that point, it either gets there or doesn’t. Checking it is going to just be a waste of time.
John: Right. So you’ve got all hands on deck, you’ve got to get everybody there, and you’re starting making your calls at 9 a.m.; I wouldn’t start before that, but you can get people there a little bit before. Give them scripts, let them know what they’re doing, let them understand. Let them know that they’ve got to have a sense of urgency. And then you start giving them lists. Yeah, you start calling and you then start the next round at 10. And then you keep taking them off the list.
Kristina: You’ve got two hours’ worth of voting, you might as well start. But if you’re doing paper, then you have to go pick them up, and that takes manpower. Ideally, you do it electronically so that all day long, as the voting comes in, your focus is…
John: Okay, but why wouldn’t you start calling those people…you don’t know if they’ve voted or not, but they’ve been being checked off since 7 a.m. So electronically, yeah; by 9 o’clock you know if they’ve voted or not.
Kristina: Right. By 9 o’clock, you’ve got…
John: People that haven’t voted yet.
Kristina:…remember, there’s only 13 hours of voting. By 9 o’clock, you’re 10% of the way through.
John: So I start calling at 9.
Kristina: Right, yeah, I agree. If you’re doing paper, then I’d wait till 10.
John: I wouldn’t. So what if you hit somebody that already voted? So what? Just push them.
Kristina: Well, that’s true.
John: You’re better off erring on the side of ticking somebody off than not getting the vote.
Kristina: Right. But as the data comes in, you do want to cross them off because you want to keep focusing on the people who haven’t voted.
John: Sure, you want to keep that list shrinking and hopefully by the end of the night, you’re down to two people and you’re panicking on how to get them there. So you’re picking them up at the airport so they don’t have to wait to get their car.
Kristina: We’ve done that…
John: We told that story already.
Kristina:…you send someone over to give them a ride, you babysit for their kids…
John: You send somebody with that someone to go pick up their luggage and go in a separate car with the luggage so you don’t have to wait for the luggage, so you can get to the poll before 7.
Kristina: Exactly. We have been in races like that where those votes mattered. So you just always assume they vote. But if you have done your job in ID-ing voters, etc, as the votes are coming in, you should know where you stand. You should know how far ahead you are, or how tight it is. And it’s just a matter of analysis.
John: Now, a couple of things in the new age, the electronic age. You need to have your social media people, or if it’s you, tweeting, putting up Facebook posts, etc. Then it’s absentee ballot time, then it’s early voting time, here’s the polling places. You need to get the message out through your e-mail. If you’ve got people signed up on your e-mail list, you need it to be on your website. You need to update all your electronic resources so that they are putting out the message about voting early and absentee. And then come Election Day, list of polling places, etc.
Kristina: But you still…that’s wonderful…
John: But you’ve got to call. You’ve got to talk to them.
Kristina: You still have to have the personal contact. Think of yourself; how easy is it to ignore an e-mail request for something?
Kristina: Click, gone. Another human being is harder to ignore. E-mail, social media, Twitter, hashtag; all those things, they’re wonderful. They’re alternative methods of advertising. They’re instead of a mailer. They’re instead of a TV ad. They’re instead of a radio ad. But they don’t replace the human contact which changes behavior. Don’t think that if you do all of your electronic, go vote, “Oh, it’s voting day,” and even if you have a funny video that sings and says it’s voting day, that that will not get your marginal voters. You still need to call them.
And it’s hard. Because they’ll see a phone number coming on their cellphone or whatever, which is why you always want to use a cellphone number to make those automated calls instead of an 800-number. Because think about it; an 800-number, they don’t take that call. But if they see another cellphone call from their district, their area code, it might be one of their friends whose number they don’t recognize, or who are calling from work, or calling from someone else’s house. And so, they’ll pick up. And that’s an important thing to remember, that you want to increase your yield of pick ups.
So whatever it takes to do that, think that through.
John: Right, okay. So Election Day is huge. We will have another podcast on all the other minutiae that’s happening on Election Day, and the party after, Election Night, and how to handle all that. But the number one focus, and you don’t let up till the polls close, is getting those people who you know haven’t voted yet to the polls. And they’re supporting you; you’re only driving out people that are supporting you. If you haven’t ID-ed a lot of people, then you don’t have a lot of phone calls to make. But the more people you’ve ID-ed and they said they’re going to vote for you, the better off you are in terms of possibly winning, and getting them there is how you’ve got to do it.
Kristina: Right. And if you don’t have a lot of ID-ed people, you’re probably not going to win.
Kristina: That’s the whole point.
John: Or you’re just casting your whole fate to the wind. You have no idea. You’re out there running blind. Just because the polls say you’re ahead doesn’t mean anything. And if you’re in a small campaign, you don’t have a poll either, so you really don’t know.
Kristina: One of the things that I liked by doing all this massive ID, you don’t have a poll. You know what’s going to happen. Because polls are always plus or minus…people don’t tell the truth, they lie. If you do your phone calls right and have a good script that you should know who’s voting for you and who’s against you, and then, you should be able to project how much you’re going to win. That’s really easy. It’s easy to make the projections, it’s hard to do the ID. That’s what takes all the time. And that’s what you need to be focused on.
And one thing that’s really important, and I don’t know if we’ve talked about this, but stay focused on what you should be doing. Don’t worry about your opponent. So many candidates in races and even mature adults, they get just obsessed with what the opponent is doing. And any time you spend thinking or worrying about your opponent, you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You can’t control what your opponent is doing. You can only control what you do.
So if you find out your opponent’s going to door to door, well, duh, that’s what you should be doing. Your opponent’s making phone calls. Well, duh, he’s mailing, mailing. Well, yeah. But don’t worry about it. And don’t worry about what his website looks like; none of that matters if you do what you’re supposed to do.
John: Right. If you’re making your contacts, you’re making your calls, you’re going door to door, you’re raising the money, that’s what you need to stay focused on. Absolutely right.
John: Okay, so Election Day is fun, it’s exciting. It’s the Super Bowl for me every two years or even sooner because of local elections. Just enjoy the day and work hard that day, and try to recruit as much help for that day as possible.
Kristina: Right. And it’s really fun when you win.
John: Yes, it really is fun when you win, it really is.
Kristina: The whole point is that you can make it happen by doing what we’ve…
John: You can control your fate by getting this done, by getting your ID-ing done and getting the vote out.
Kristina: By working harder than anybody else, and you see it time and time again. You can almost predict the candidate that will win is the candidate who works hardest.
John: As seen by Ted Cruz in Iowa. He had the ground operation. He had people working. He worked hard. He worked it.
Kristina: Right. And you will see that. And if it is important in a presidential election where people pay a lot more attention, you have a lot more media that can make up their own mind, blah, blah, blah, imagine how important it is in all the races down ticket. Because there is less information, less personal contact or the TV information about the voters. Assuming that all things being equal in terms of your personal qualities…I mean, in the recent Republican Primary, there were 16 candidates. Clearly, some of them just didn’t have what it was people were looking for. That’s unusual. Usually, it’s one or two or three people. And if you work the hardest and do your job, you’ll win.
John: Yeah, very good. Yes, you will win. Tina recorded this a couple of weeks ago because Tina was going to be doing some traveling and we wouldn’t be able to record a podcast on this topic. And in the interim, I got a very panicked call from a candidate who was wondering how his campaign was doing, and this is in the Illinois Republican Primary, which is happening March 15th, and today is February 29th. So two weeks out, but I got a call three weeks out.
And the problem is, they were doing some voter ID-ing, but they were not getting everything back into a good system. They also had some independent groups that they said were helping them. But they weren’t giving them any of the ID. And they were using one system for their calling and another system for the tracking of their votes.
I get over there, they don’t know where they stand, and they’re three weeks out from an election. If they had used Voter Gravity, and this is not the commercial for Voter Gravity, but if they’d used a system like Voter Gravity that does the dialing for you, does the tracking for you, puts the script in front of you. All you’ve got to do is click it off on your computer, and your computer is synced with your cellphone so it’s dialing for you, it would all be there. And when you’re out door to door, it’s on your hand-held device and it’s all there. And then they know who to get out.
And this campaign is asking me to tell them if they’re winning or losing. And I can’t tell them because they don’t have the numbers to know. This whole “Get Out the Vote” is a lesson I learned the hard way in my first big campaign. I did not understand “Get Out the Vote.”
And I’m afraid that these people in this campaign…I hate to use the word “consulting,” I came in for one hour at the end, which was too late. Maybe not too late; I got a lot of work to do in three weeks. But they wanted to know where they stood. You cannot know where you stand in a campaign if you are not making calls, making live people to people contacts, and then recording if they’re voting for you or not voting for you.
And then, if you’ve got that and you know where you’re at, you have a chance of winning. And if you know you’re ahead in the number of people saying yes, and you know what your targeted goal is, and you’ve got enough people saying yes for you, those are your positives, your pluses, you’ve got to get them to the polls, but that’s not that hard to do because you’ve got the early voting period to do it. If they’re going to vote absentee, hopefully, you’ve asked that and you’ve got that information. And I know I’m kind of going on a rant here, but my mind was blown the other day when these people didn’t really grasp the whole concept. They had a part of the concept, but they missed a big chunk of it. And there’s not a lot I can do with three weeks left to help them.
So I hope you’re listening to this podcast. I hope you’re listening every week, I hope you’re telling friends. And I hope this is sinking in. And if it’s not and you’ve got questions, I am reachable at email@example.com. Oh, and by the way, I am going to be at CPAC. This podcast airs on Tuesday, 1st of March, and I will be at CPAC. I am going to be a presenter for America Majority in their workshop, and I’ll be around CPAC the whole time. If you’d like to catch up, talk a little bit, got some questions, I’d love to meet you, have a cup of coffee. I’m happy to buy the coffee. You can reach me at @JTsarpalas on Twitter.
Or as I said earlier, firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got any questions, and perhaps I get to see you at CPAC. Also, check out American Majority’s training there. The workshop is fabulous. And this is a place where activists and candidates can get to understand how to be more effective.
Appreciate you listening to the podcast. Oh, and by the way, next week, I will be doing a podcast on two important key types of people for the “Get Out the Vote” Election Day process. And that’s Election Day judges and Election Day poll watchers. So tune in next week, and I’ll explain how those work and how they fit into the “Get Out the Vote” process, how they can help you win. Thanks for listening.