Benefits Abound Through Precinct Walking
For grassroots campaigns, walking is the key way to get the word out
By Tian Harter, Mountain View, Calif., Member of Santa Clara Green Party
I've walked a lot of precincts since I became a political activist about fifteen years ago. At first I did it for new Candidates on the scene like Anna Eshoo who later became the backbone of the status quo, but more recently I've done it for Green Party members.
This fall I've been focusing my efforts on three campaigns, Stephanie Schaaf for City Council in Mountain View, Pat Gray for Congress in San Mateo County, and Susan King for Supervisor in San Francisco. I'm walking for Stephanie and Susan because I have known them as a fellow activist for years, and I can't think of anybody I would rather see elected in either race. Pat is more of a Candidate that is speaking out on important issues. In this environment where unheard ideas die we need people like that. All of them are interesting in different ways.
Stephanie has a very strong grass roots campaign going. Talking to her in late September, she said she had already knocked on thousands of doors, and talked to more than a thousand voters. She expects to have her flier on every doorstep in Mountain View by election day, and all of them delivered by the candidate or another volunteer! I'm thinking there is a very strong possibility we may have an elected Green here in Mountain View next year.
Pat Gray also has a strong grass roots campaign going. She inherited one of the most dynamic Green organizations in the state. She's also been helped by a strong citizen aversion to the role the incumbent, Tom Lantos, played in the passing of the Patriot Act and the lead up to Gulf War II. She has gotten endorsements from people like Michael Moore (the populist behind that 9/11 movie), and there is a grass roots organization spreading DROP LANTOS NOT BOMBS stickers all over the 12th Congressional District.
This kind of stuff has meant a steady trickle of volunteers at Pat Gray for Congress campaign headquarters, where they have LOTS of precincts to walk. In the precincts, a few people said things like Tom Lantos has been in Washington a bit too long. Nobody made the kind of it's silly to vote for a Green type noises I used to hear when we were a new party. I'm hoping she sets a new record for vote percentage by a Green Party Candidate on November 2nd!
San Francisco is using IRV for the first time in this election. Susan King lives in the district currently represented by Matt Gonzalez, the most powerful Green Incumbent in the USA. He decided not to run for reelection, so the San Francisco Green Party is running a number of candidates, just to see what effect this will have in an IRV environment. It is widely expected that Ross Mirkarimi will win the seat, but Susan is fighting the good fight. I decided to support her campaign because one of her main issues is Climate Change
By the time I get home from a day of San Francisco precincts, I've seen many beautiful old houses and many Ross Mirkarimi signs, and I feel like I've had a strenuous urban hike. Usually I've also had at least one great conversation with whomever I got paired with for the day. The physical experience is similar in other districts, although they tend not to be as hilly or as scenic.
Walking precincts is a great way to take political action. When you do it you are giving the candidate of your choice a value at least equal to the postage they would have had to invest to contact those hundreds of voters by mail. In the eyes of people that value the work of volunteers more than what money can accomplish, it is even more meaningful. Voters are much more likely to vote for someone when they know something about that person, and giving them a flier makes that possible. For grassroots campaigns, walking precincts is one of the key ways to get the word out. If you've never done it, I recommend the experience.
How to Organize a Precinct Walk You've got 66,000 residents, 44,000 are registered voters.How do you know which precincts to walk and which doors to knock?You need a plan.Here's one: Walk 8 hours every single day for 18 months. Knock on every door and meet every resident.Do that, and you'll meet 22,000 people who never vote!Here's a better plan. Get How to Organize a Precinct Walk from Political Net Press. This step-by-step guide is the planning tool you need to get the most votes out of your volunteers and your walking time.
This guide tells you how to: