Two Months Until Election: DON’T PANIC with Kristina Keats CW 65- transcript

two months until electionJohn Tsarpalas: My good friend Kristina Keats is back with me this week. We’re here because it is only two months until the November election and there is lots to think about and lots to do. But more importantly, it’s Two Months to the Election; Don’t Panic! Commonwealthy #65.

So today on Commonwealthy, we are approximately two months out from the November election, sixty days to go. I have Kristina Keats back on the podcast to go through her thoughts on what you should be doing for this last sixty day scramble. Maybe scramble is the wrong word because you should have had a plan in place and you should be working it.

Tina, what are your thoughts at this point?

Kristina Keats: Well, that is the key. Hopefully you started listening to our podcast long before you made the decision to run and you have been working towards the election for at least a year. If you have done that, then you have had your intern program, you’ve organized your volunteers and your phone banking and your door knocking.

You now have hopefully of the potential voters in your district who are likely to vote, you have identified forty percent of them, which gives you a real leg up because you know where your votes are so that on election day you can make sure that you get them to the polls. By identifying, it doesn’t mean just knowing who is voting for you. It means knowing who is voting against you so you don’t send them to the polls.

By the way, forty percent, if you have kind of really worked hard, is the minimum number. I’ve worked on campaigns where we’ve identified every one in the district who had a phone who was willing to answer. Now, that doesn’t mean you talk to every voter because some people won’t answer or pick up.

But if you are diligent and constantly updating your data so that every week as you identify voters, you have less and less to identify and you keep at it, you can identify the vast majority of the people in your voting area. And when you do that, you know how you are doing. You know whether you are winning or losing because you are not doing a poll; you are actually counting noses.

By the way, this is what Abraham Lincoln did when he was involved in politics in the state of Illinois way back when. Make a list. Go find out who they are voting for. Then make sure they get the polls.

You have done all of that. So now you are sixty days out. It is time to get your yard signs up. Hopefully you have been putting them up. Keep at it because yard signs are the cheapest, most effective advertising you can possibly do because it is like an endorsement from a neighbor. When you see a yard sign in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor is telling you, “I am supporting this person.” That is very personal.

If you know that neighbor and respect them, then they are going to influence people. In fact, we know that happens. It is just anecdotal, but I have had people say to me in elections, especially local elections, “I always drive by your house to see who I should vote for.” If they know you and they know you are active and involved and know the people, then they take that endorsement very seriously.

It is not like a celebrity endorsement because a celebrity can endorse, but unless you know that celebrity personally, why would you do what they say? Especially in local elections, those yard signs are personal endorsements from one neighbor to another. It can have a huge impact, which is why many times your opponent might have organized efforts to remove your yard signs.

John Tsarpalas: Yes.

Kristina Keats: And we’ve seen that.

John Tsarpalas: Union thugs around here.

Kristina Keats: Right. We have literally seen cars drive up and down the streets and take out yard signs. The problem is even though it is very illegal and if you get caught, you can actually go to jail for removing a yard sign-

John Tsarpalas: It’s stealing personal property.

Kristina Keats: In a lot of areas, yard signs are protected free speech. But the problem is that what people who are intent on stealing yard signs usually do is they send somebody is not eighteen out to do it. It is harder for people to prosecute a fifteen year old who is picking up yard signs. It just is.

But there are things that you can do if you are having a problem with that. And believe me, it can be a problem. The reason why it is a problem is because it is so effective. Why would anybody bother to pull down yard signs? They influence people.

One thing we did was we bought I think it was an insect repellent that you were supposed to put around the base of a tree to keep the insects going up the tree. It is really gooey. You just put it along the edge of the top and the sides of the yard sign. When they go to grab it, they get it all over their hands. So in the places that are high profile where you are having a problem, you can consider that.

John Tsarpalas: Right. We used to put a piece of paper with every yard sign that said that, “If this is stolen, please call us right away for another.” That way we can get one back out right away.

Kristina Keats: Right, you try to get it back out. But sometimes it just became like Whack a Mole.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: Depending. If it is a problem, then the gooey stuff does stop it because they get it all over their car and their hands and then they decide it is not worth the effort. You do want to include that piece of paper when you deliver the yard sign to have people call. But people don’t call.

That is why it is so important that you’ve got it in your database. You know who is supposed to have a yard sign. Then you have your volunteers cover different areas. They are responsible for putting them back up when they get taken down. So again, keep the data, data, data. Data is everything.

If you haven’t been keeping your data, you are just like trying to fly an airplane, but you are blind literally. You don’t know where your support is and where your yard signs are. How can you keep them up?

We are assuming you have followed our procedures and you’ve kept your data. So you know where your yard signs are. You get them out.

The next thing that you need to do is plan your Get Out the Vote effort. In many states, early voting starts thirty to forty days before election day. You can literally win the election before election day if you start turning your vote out.

What you want to do is you use your data again and hunt for the people who are least likely to vote. You know who these are because they are people who haven’t voted in the past. You start bugging them three days before early voting starts- calling them, sending them a robo-call. “Please vote. Your early voting site is…”

And then get your data on the early voting back from your voting officials. Most areas now can you give you a computer list every day or pretty much every day. But you should find out ahead of time how you can get that information. So then as people vote, you take them off of your list and indicate that they voted. Again, you narrow it down. So now you have less people that you’ve got to get to the polls.

You really want to work that early voting, especially on the unlikely voters, because that is going to make election day a lot easier if you know that thirty percent of your vote has voted early. It gives you a lot more comfort. You still will have a lot of people voting on election day because they put it off and put it off.

And then that is where you have to have your Get Out the Vote effort where you’ve got every volunteer you can possibly scrap up. If somebody is only going to volunteer to work one day for the whole election period, you want them on election day because you need to be working to get those people who said they were going to vote for you to the polls.

That means phoning them, knocking on their door, and if you are really sophisticated, you set up a system where you’ve got people checking in the voters as they come in so that as they vote, you know they have voted. You can keep concentrating on the smaller and smaller group of people who haven’t voted.

John Tsarpalas: Right. So let me back up here for a minute. You should be calling people (every volunteer or people who were interested in your campaign) and asking if they will help with the Get Out the Vote program during the early voting and especially on election day.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: You are really trying to ratchet it up your number of volunteers. You are going to need a lot of people to make calls to remind people to go vote or go knock on their doors and tell them to go vote.

Kristina Keats: Right. And be in the precincts.

John Tsarpalas: Right, and have people who are poll watching for you to check off those that have come in to vote so that you can then take that list during the course of the election day and call those that haven’t shown up yet.

Kristina Keats: Right. And depending on where you are, you might need people in the polling place to watch for fraud.

John Tsarpalas: Yes.

Kristina Keats: I mean, it does exist. I don’t care where you are. I remember one case where in a very tony suburb of Chicago, some woman comes into the precinct and announces in front of everybody (this is how stupid people are and they don’t realize that they are just announcing that they’ve broken the law) that she had voted in Wisconsin and was voting again in Illinois.

The precinct polling person comes back and tells me about. I said, “Well, what was her name? We’ll prosecute.” “Oh.” They didn’t think to get that name. So make sure that the people in polling place are also aware of what is legal and not legal. That is the job of the poll watchers.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: For example, in most states (I think pretty much all jurisdictions) it is illegal to bring pamphlets or buttons on talk about candidates in the polling place. You are not allowed to do it in the polling place. And you would be shocked how many times that law gets violated. People walk in with a great big button on for the person that they are supporting. That is illegal. I am sure it is state law, right, John? It is not federal law.

John Tsarpalas: It is state law.

Kristina Keats: But almost every state has laws against campaigning within a hundred and fifty feet or something. They have rules.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: Anyway, and voting twice is illegal.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah. Let me throw a couple of quick thoughts on that. Most campaigns that I have been involved in about a week before the election day, there is usually some kind of a meeting in the evening to invite poll watchers and election judges that will come to the meeting. Kind of go over the rules with them and tell them what they are trying to do in terms of checking off, but also what to be aware of.

And then have a phone number that they can call so there is someone they can report to immediately to take care of this. We talked about in a previous podcast about our Tanya. We used to have a woman named Tanya who was an attorney who answered our phone, our hotline. She could take care of all of these problems and get it dealt with quickly.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: So it is important to set something like that up.

Kristina Keats: You have all of this information in writing. Use simple, clear bullet points. Don’t go into long legalese. Just say, “You cannot do this. You cannot do this. You can do this.”

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: The other problem is that in the polling place, the judges are a judge. They decide. So they may decide to allow something illegal to happen. All you can do is report it. Depending on where you are, hopefully you are not in Cook County, Illinois where they actually encourage fraud.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: Where you can’t get anybody to show up to stop it.

John Tsarpalas: In podcast #48, if you go to our website,, and you put in the search bar there, “Election Judges and Poll Watchers,” it was Commonwealthy episode #48. It is all about how to talk to judges and poll watchers and what they can do. There’s lots of details there.

And Tina talked a little bit earlier about Get Out the Vote. Podcast #42, Get Out the Vote in a Political Campaign, just throw that in the search bar. Find that podcast. If you don’t want to listen, there’s a transcript there. All of this information has been covered. We are trying to kind of highlight what you need to be thinking about here today.

And on the vote fraud thing, I think it was 2006 (it might have been 2004), the Wisconsin Republican Party took the database of the people who voted in the Wisconsin election and ran it against the database of those that voted in the Illinois election that same year who had the same name and same birthdate. Twelve thousand people came up having voted in both Illinois and Wisconsin.

Because the Democrat Party puts people on buses and buses them up to Milwaukee. They’ve got them registered up there, too, so they vote twice. They did prosecute twelve thousand people, which was great.

Kristina Keats: They did?

John Tsarpalas: Oh, yeah. This was a while back.

Kristina Keats: I didn’t know that. Did anybody go to jail?

John Tsarpalas: A lot of slaps on the wrist.

Kristina Keats: But at least they did something about it because that is the big problem. People do this and they just go, “Oh, ha ha. Isn’t this fun.”

John Tsarpalas: Yeah. You know, the guy that did that was the executive director of the state party at that time was Rick Wiley, which is a name that has come up recently. He was Scott Walker’s campaign manager and then he was Trump’s for a very short period of time. He’s the guy that actually drove that whole investigation and got it prosecuted, which was great.

Kristina Keats: And then North Carolina just did the same thing and found that there were sixty-five thousand people in North Carolina who voted somewhere else.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: Most states don’t check every single state in the Union, so you could have even more, especially with early voting. You could be a student in California, fly home, and vote again. You know, it is a real problem.

In my view, at least I would say ninety-five percent of the voter fraud is committed by the Democrat Party. I am sure that there are some Republicans who commit the fraud. It is not organized. I’ve never seen anything that Republicans put people on buses or illegally register them. The Democrats are the ones who are trying to claim voter fraud is a Republican myth and it just isn’t.

It used to be about fifteen years ago if you typed in “voter fraud” on your computer, you would get up a website where all of the voter fraud cases that had been prosecuted in the country were in one spot where some legal people were gathering all of that information. That would be the first thing that popped up.

Now if you type it, you get searches that say, “Is voter fraud real? Voter fraud is a myth. Voter fraud is a myth of the Republican Party,” which tells you how effective the Democrats are at covering their tracks. They know it is important to make everybody believe voter fraud is a myth. It is not a myth. It happens in every election.

Fortunately, it isn’t bad enough. They can get twelve thousand votes, but that is a big effort to get twelve thousand fraudulent votes. That is huge to fill out those forms and get them all state addresses and all of this stuff. Or what they do is they find somebody who is dead or doesn’t vote or moved out of town and they take that voter’s name and get someone else to bus up and vote it.

But it is a huge effort. They can win in a very, very tight race. They can make a difference. Fortunately, if it is even two points apart, that is hard. But it could happen in you are in a smaller race and there is a lot of fraud. Don’t you agree, John?

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: Voter fraud is a problem, but it can only sway it so much.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, I think they can steal one or two percent. They can’t steal if there is a strong mandate.

Kristina Keats: Right. Even one percent on a statewide election with three million people voting-

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, it is difficult.

Kristina Keats: Right. I mean, one percent is only thirty thousand votes. So twelve thousand votes is important; it can make a difference.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: But the basic thing is that the last sixty days it is all about getting your vote out. Don’t ever stop identifying. Every time you find somebody that you hadn’t identified, you get that in your database because it is still gold. So you are still doing everything you’ve been doing for the last year, but you are now organizing your Get Out the Vote effort and getting up your yard signs.

You will probably have some local media coverage. That’s when they start coming in and asking you questions and things like that. So you need to be prepared for that. In order to be effective, you have really done most of the work by the time you get to the last sixty days, right?

John Tsarpalas: Right. You had to have a plan. You have to be working it. The other thing that is going to be happening in the last sixty days for most campaigns is your mail is going to start. Or perhaps you’ve mailed a piece or two, but you are kind of saving your money. You tend to never have enough money to be mailing constantly. There are campaigns with enough money.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: So your mail is going to get out there. You want to get mail to people before early voting starts because you want to persuade people. You never know if they are going to show up to get that early voting done.

So your mail should be going out right now. It should be planned. You should know what is happening. You probably should have had to the mail house by now or at least to the printer. Have it ready to go and have that all figured out. But that is going to be happening. And then you are going to need to be ready to respond to some of the mail that is your opponent is going to put out about you.

Kristina Keats: Right. That’s the beauty of robo-calls. They are cheap and if you do them well and creatively, you can respond to negative mail that goes out. But here’s another thing that I just thought of that’s really important: don’t panic.

John Tsarpalas: Yes.

Kristina Keats: Don’t respond to every single thing that happens because you’ll lose your focus. You have to be focused on getting your voters to the polls. So if your opponent suddenly sends out a mail piece that says something crazy, be calm, figure out a reasonable response, and then respond.

And you have to keep your team calm, too, because I’ve seen situations where we were calling from a Republican headquarters and the Democrats found out we were calling. So they organized people to call us at the headquarters to scream at us like, “How can you be making these phone calls? They are terrible calls. You are terrible people. How could you do this?” Just awful, awful, awful.

All of the volunteers started shaking and panicking. They all wanted to quit and go home, which was what they wanted. That is what they wanted us to do. So what you had to do is stay calm. In a case like that, it happens to be illegal for people to do that, to call and tie up your phone lines yelling at you.

All we did in that case is we called the police and the police officer came. The next person who called, they said, “Could you hold on just a minute? A police officer would like to talk to you.” And then he gets on the phone and explains that if they call again, the call will be traced and they could be arrested. That stopped it.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, it stopped it. But most phone banks are not landlines anymore. Most phone banks are people bringing their own personal cell phones. So when you are making calls, they are not necessarily calling you back. In fact, if you are using something like CallFire, it is dialing for you, but it is not showing your number, correct?

Kristina Keats: No, when you use CallFire, a number is shown. You have to have a number.

John Tsarpalas: Okay. And it is your number? Your cell phone?

Kristina Keats: Well, you can make it any number that you want.

John Tsarpalas: Right. So they are not calling the volunteer and scaring them anymore is what I am trying to say.

Kristina Keats: Right, right.

John Tsarpalas: And that’s true if you use Voter Gravity, because it also dials for you.

Kristina Keats: I mean, we would recommend you use something like CallFire or a computer dialing.

John Tsarpalas: Well, Voter Gravity, yeah.

Kristina Keats: But sometimes people are still using landlines. That was just an example.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, of some of the dirty tricks.

Kristina Keats: Things that the opposition will do to scare people. We’ve had opponents who made fake robo-calls, pretending that they are you and calling at ten thirty at night to who they thought were your supporters. Unfortunately, that can be effective. So you have to be able to be out there quickly with a response and telling people, “This was not us. We didn’t do this.”

But it is really hard, I will tell you. So just be prepared. I don’t know how nasty your opponents are going to be. But be prepared for unethical things to be done against you.

John Tsarpalas: Right. This is happening more I would think in partisan races. If you are talking about independent races and local elections in a nonpresidential election cycle, then it is a different story. But this is sixty days to this campaign with Donald Trump and Hillary at the top of the ticket. There is going to be a lot of garbage.

Kristina Keats: Well, I know, but I have worked school boards-

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, they are nasty. They are real nasty.

Kristina Keats: Nothing is nastier than school boards, especially if you have a teacher’s union in your town.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah.

Kristina Keats: We’ve had in school board elections swastikas painted on yard signs. I mean, just be aware because most of this stuff never gets in the news. It never got in the local newspaper the swastikas of the phone calls or all of the things that happened.

It’s not to scare you, but this happens. Be prepared to stay calm and focused on winning the election because what this is all about is to get you to stop being effective. So that’s what you have to remember. This is a technique.

It’s like if you are playing a football game and somebody when the referee isn’t looking doing an illegal tackle. Okay, the referee didn’t see it. Nothing is going to happen. And you can’t get all focused on the illegal tackle and forget to do what you are supposed to do. That’s the whole point.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: These things can happen. Nonpartisan, local elections are some of the nastiest I have ever been in. I am sorry.

John Tsarpalas: No, no, you are right. But we don’t want to scare people off. The bottom line is this garbage might happen. Just let it roll off your back. Deal with it, but don’t do much to deal with it. Stay on your plan. You’ve got a plan.

Make sure your mail is keeping on your message, that you are putting out those press releases, that you are talking to people, that you are knocking on those doors, and you are making those calls. You are IDing people continually and you are getting out the vote during that early voting period or the election day.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: And stay on that. Don’t let this garbage throw you.

Kristina Keats: Right. But this is when it starts.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: Wouldn’t you agree, John?

John Tsarpalas: Oh, yeah.

Kristina Keats: The last sixty days is when you see all of the garbage.

John Tsarpalas: They aren’t doing this garbage during the summertime. No, it all hits after Labor Day.

Kristina Keats: Right.

John Tsarpalas: It just gets crazy.

Kristina Keats: Well, if it is a November election. But just in the local election, sometimes it can start right at the beginning. I mean, in lots of municipalities they beg people to run because nobody wants to do it. And maybe you are in that kind of situation and God bless you for serving. But if there is money involved, and in schools there is lots of money, people don’t take kindly to you maybe messing with their money.

John Tsarpalas: Right. Let’s summarize some key points, because it is really simple. We’ve got to stay on track. And that track is-

Kristina Keats: Identify your voters and get them to the polls. It is that simple. But also, in the last sixty days, your messaging is really important. Your yard signs get up. Your mail goes out. Your social media is ramped up. And you make sure you are making as many connections to voters as you can. But most importantly, you are making sure that those people that you’ve identified get to the polls, preferably for early voting. Push heavily for early voting.

John Tsarpalas: Right. Don’t assume people will get there on election day. Push them.

Kristina Keats: Exactly. You have to.

John Tsarpalas: Make sure they take the time now when they’ve got a chance.

Kristina Keats: Right. And if you have done all of that, you should know whether or not you are going to win. It is a really good feeling because you know where you stand on election day so you are not biting your fingernails. You know approximately how many votes you’ve got and how many your opponent’s got.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah. I think there is an important something there, too. Enjoy the ride. This is exciting. This is the Super Bowl. This is fun. I mean, you are working hard. You are meeting lots of people. You are getting people to know who you are. They’re hearing your message. Stay positive. Stay happy. Stay upbeat. And have fun with it!

Kristina Keats: Right. Because if you don’t enjoy the process, it is the process.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: Because if you are an elected official, you are going to do it again in two or four years.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Kristina Keats: So you have to enjoy the actual process.

John Tsarpalas: And it is a very special event. I mean, it is America and it is democracy in action. And here you are getting your ideas and your thoughts out there, talking to people, first of all at a bigger level, through mass media, through mailing, and through social media. But you are also doing a lot of one on one and talking to voters on the phone and at the door. And you are out doing events. You are showing up to local football games and wherever there is a lot of people and you are talking to them.

It is the perfect opportunity to get one or a few of your ideas out there on how to make things better. If we are truly believers in limited government and smaller government and efficiency and getting more money right to the problem… If it is about the schools, how do we get more money to the kids and less to the bureaucracy and yet still keep this efficient for taxpayers?

This is the time to make the case. They are not listening back in the summertime. This is when people are listening.

Kristina Keats: You just always have to be out there selling- selling your ideas, selling your candidacy. But enjoy the process of meeting people. Hopefully you will get elected and you will make some changes that can make a difference.

John Tsarpalas: Absolutely. Because the bottom line is we need to win elections to make change.

Kristina Keats: Right, exactly. And complaining to the TV, the radio, or your neighbor doesn’t do it.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah. We sure know a lot of people that like to complain, but they sure don’t want to do much work.

Kristina Keats: And there is an inverse relationship between complaining and getting things done.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, and it is important. Bless if you are running right now. And if you are thinking about it and you are ramping up for 2017 or next spring, now is the perfect time to just get started.

Jump in and go get a campaign planner, which is on the website in our resources. Download that. It is Commonwealthy #64. It will give you complete spreadsheets on how to figure out every part of your campaign, whether it be big or small. It is free. You can’t go wrong with that.

If you are just thinking about running, go look at that campaign planner. It is going to tell you what you need to do. You don’t have to do everything on it, but it will give you a good idea. And it is sort of a synopsis of everything that has happened in this podcast in the last sixty-five podcasts previously. That is a really good resource for everybody to check out.

Kristina Keats: Great resource. And good luck. We hope you win.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, good luck. And like I said, enjoy it. It’s great.

Kristina Keats: Well, if you need help with your campaign in these last couple months or if you are just getting ready and starting to gear up for 2017, I am available to help you. I am a professional political candidate coach. I am very good at ground game, that is the field plan, your Get Out the Vote plan, your voter IDing. I am great at helping you get better at fundraising. I do a lot of public speaking coaching. I do that outside of the political world as well.

So there are lots of areas I can help you get your campaign plan together. So feel free to give me a call. I offer a free first consultation, anywhere from a half hour to an hour. It depends on how long it takes. There is no charge. I am sure I can give you a few good ideas in that first hour. And then, if I think and we agree that you need some more help, I can let you know what that will cost. We can work together moving forward.

So feel free if you are a little panicked right now, well back to the title of this episode- don’t panic! Just get a hold of me. I am I would love to be of assistance if you are a limited government, free market kind of a candidate.

As always, we have lots of resources available at I talked about the free planner that is there that is a fantastic resource. It can truly put together your whole campaign plan. I am very proud of it. Download it for free.

We are here for advice, thoughts, if you have any ideas, or things you would like to hear more about. If you’d like to hear a podcast about a specific topic, I am always looking to do things that are relevant to my audience. So again to reach me at

As always, I would like you think about this thought. You might be listening here. You think about politics a lot. We aren’t going to change things until people get elected to office. So please think about running for local office. Think about where you can step up. It doesn’t have to be a big office. Every office, there is five hundred thousand offices in America. They are all important.

We can talk all we want about politics. Talk is cheap. We need to win elections. Let’s win some elections.

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