GOTV emergency response guide — Arena

Nov 1, 2018

GOTV emergency response guide

GOTV emergencies can be planned for and practiced so the unpredictable is made manageable.

Mónica Pérez

If you’ve worked on a campaign, you’ve likely heard GOTV horror stories.

Think staff forgetting to tell the candidate about one hundred volunteers busing in from California, staff leaving to deal with a family crisis, or labeling ten thousand door hangers with the wrong polling place.

Unfortunately, we have all been there. The good news: it can be prevented — or at least planned for — and practiced so the unpredictable is made manageable.

In many states, like my home state of Arizona, you’ve already made your early vote GOTV plan. You can use these tips for your traditional, final four GOTV days.

Here are some tangible steps to take this week, pre-GOTV week.

Make a GOTV plan, then a back-up plan, and a back-up plan for your back-up plan.

  • Share these plans with everyone on your team: field staff, comms, digital, finance.
  • Make the plan short, and ask if everyone understands.

Assign clear leadership roles to each staffer and super volunteer. And then back up those roles.

  • Staging location directors should be a super volunteer role, so field teams keep their focus on the doors and dials.
  • Don’t underestimate the role of Comfort Captain — that one volunteer who makes sure your team is fed, hydrated, knows where to go, and is the energy in the final push.
  • Have a backup for each leadership position. People get sick around GOTV — think of this as a version of Hamilton. Who is your understudy to play the lead when someone is out sick or gets a flat tire the day you need them most? Life happens, but you can plan accordingly.

Plan for inclement weather.

  • What happens if there is a torrential rainstorm or a sudden heat wave or sub-zero temperatures?
  • Start with organizing. What will happen if you have to shift canvassers to phones? How will you make sure that volunteers don’t flake because the weather is too bad? Prepare your organizers and super volunteers to make hard asks and imbue the importance of showing up, even if the weather’s awful.
  • Cover the logistics. Did you buy enough $0.99 rain ponchos or hand warmers or water bottles? Task a team member with “disaster relief” and a small budget so that they can look out for the field staff.

Set alarms.

  • What if your staff oversleeps the 5am wake up call on Election Day? Have folks who can make sure everyone is on time and ready to go — even if it means knowing where everyone lives so that you can drag them out of bed, or setting alarms on each person’s phone before they leave each night.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of setting alarms for reporting times to remind staging location staff and boiler room staff to stay on track.

Take control of your candidate’s social media, schedule, and personal time.

  • Make sure your candidate has time with family, but stress that the final days are the most impactful time to talk to voters. Don’t let them get into last minute Twitter fights. Instead, have them work out their stress and anxiety at the doors, with a super volunteer supporting them.
  • If your candidate has time to obsess over social media, they aren’t knocking enough doors.

GOTV is wonderful. It is also the most stressful part of a campaign. Plan, plan, plan; then, make sure your communication systems are the strongest they have ever been. People should know exactly where they’re going, and should be able to fill in for any role at any time. Keep your team happy, healthy, hydrated, and motivated.

Check out our GOTV Toolbox for more resources.


Digital content in the final stretch