How can I find out which people will vote for the Green Party? How can I use my phone to record their preferences?
The best way to get people to vote Green is in doorstep conversations. Knock on their doors and listen to them. Find out what issues concern them, who they voted for last time and whether they might vote Green this time. Then after the conversation, note down their answers, so we can follow up on polling day, reminding potential supporters to go and vote. That is what people call canvassing.
This year we are using a mobile phone app to organise canvassing called Ecanvasser. The first step is simply to download the app to your phone, and then send us your contact details via our website with the link below. Then we can add you to the app's Green Party account:
- Download Ecanvasser for the iPhone from the Apple store, or for an Android phone from the Google Play store.
- Go to our volunteer web page, tick the box Yes I can knock on doors to find Green voters. We need your email address (make this the same email as your Facebook/Google Account if you want to login to the app later with Facebook/Google Account). We'll then send you an invitation to an Oxfordshire Green Party Ecanvasser team. Write in the comment box to let us know when you have time to do canvassing, and where in Oxford East you can help.
- When you receive the email inviting you to a session, start the app and click on Login with Email, Facebook or Google, to connect your app to the Oxfordshire Green Party account.
- Learn how to quickly and easily navigate the app in the next section.
How to use Ecanvasser - very important that you explore this before you arrive at your canvassing session:
- Ecanvasser works with databases of all the voters we want to target. The first time you use the app, or whenever we make changes to the database, the software sends updates to your phone automatically so you have the most accurate info, this called syncing. Before you start canvassing, make sure you have a good internet connection so your phone can sync quickly. Syncing can use up your battery fast, so if you're low on battery when you're on the move, try turning your phone data off so it can't sync the app.
Open the app, and you'll notice a graphic of 3 small lines in the top left hand corner. Pressing on that brings up the app menu, and you'll see there in the column of options the word 'sync' - when the app updates, there will be a percentage shown here to display how close it is to finishing.
- In the menu column are several other options; the 3 you'll use are Canvass, Map and Talking Points. Press the Canvass option, and it'll take you to your easy-to-navigate list of voters. The People tab contains your full list of voters and their details, and Houses and Streets shows who lives in a particular place. Have a quick look at these tabs, though you won't use them much. Groups is the most interesting - when you sign up to volunteer, we'll put you in a Team of other volunteers based on where & when it's convenient for you to work. Each Team is then assigned to a Group of voters that need to be canvassed.
So in the Groups tab, you can see the names of the voter Groups you're assigned to, and some numbers underneath each. The first number is the number of unvisited voters in that group. The second (in the green bubble) are the voters that have already been successfully canvassed and don't need to be again. The number in the red bubble is the number of people who have been canvassed but have told us they're not interested in our campaign. The blue and final bubble tells you the number of voters that need to be recanvassed - e.g. because they weren't in when we went round before, or because they needed time to think about who to vote for and asked us to come back later.
When you canvass, you'll tick off in the app which of these categories each voter belongs to, as we meet everyone.
- The Map option from the top left, 3 bar menu is where it gets really interesting. When you click the Map option, it opens up showing you (the blue dot) and your current location. The first thing to do is to press the icon at the top /right/, the 3 bar menu icon (each bar smaller than the last) to open up the map's filters. On the new menu, press the option next to 'Assigned:' make sure 'My Groups' is selected. Then, just below, press the check boxes for 'Not Visited' and 'Revisit' to make sure only the voters you need to meet are displayed on your map.
- Navigate the map now (you can scroll across and zoom out as you need, like any Google Map) until your map shows approximately the whole of the city of Oxford. You'll see a bubble on the screen with a number in it e.g. '200+'. This shows that in roughly the area of the bubble, there are 200+ voters your team needs to visit. Zoom in towards the bubble and you'll see that it breaks up into smaller bubbles for different local areas, and eventually when you're looking at streets, it'll show diamonds or circles for each house with at least one voter. This then shows you on the map all of the voters you need to reach, and how to get to each one. To get directions to a particular diamond/circle, press on it, and look for the small Google Map 'get directions' icon among the address info that now pops up - the small icon is a white, rightward pointing arrow in a blue diamond.
- When you visit each house, you'll talk to and have a nice conversation with the voter, as well as taking answers to a couple of survey questions. When you enter these answers into your app, then so long as the filters were selected correctly in step 3, the house you visited should disappear from your map (if it doesn't, it should have disappeared when you next open it), to help you find who's left to talk to.
- Talking Points & Surveys - A script of how to talk to voters is given below, but here's an overview of a key part - Talking Points. Go to the main Menu (top left 3 bar icon) and press Talking Points. That will bring up a list of key voter issues and our policies for the. After introductions, when you talk to a voter the first thing to do is to use a 'hook' to start a conversation about an issue. Usually ask them a question such as 'What are your concerns over how Brexit could affect the economy?' Or 'How would you like to see the NHS improved?' etc. The second step is to then tell them our plans to solve those issues.
The Talking Points give you information you can use for these two steps, for each issue - definitely have a good read before you canvass to learn the hooks & policies and revise if you need between houses. Unfortunately you won't be able to look at your talking points on your phone when meeting each voter, as it'll seem very unnatural and disingenuous for them.
- Practice Canvassing on the Map - It's very important to have a practice using the Map and its canvassing tools, ahead of going out 1) On the map, press on a diamond/circle - a small set of address details should pop up on the bottom of the screen 2) Press these details, and a list of options will appear - press 'Canvass' 3) This then takes you to the all important menu. When you get to each house, you'll use the options of this menu to input the data you collect from your conversation.
There are three menu features you'll use: Name (and sometimes Add Voter); Reception; Survey & Issue.
As the script in the next section shows, after introductions you firstly check the name of who you're talking to, and press on the 'Name' option to set the app to the correct person. If by chance you're talking to someone who isn't on that list, ask if they're a registered voter. If so, add them and talk to them too to find out if they could support us. Be sure to talk to everyone in the house already listed on the app.
After that, put your phone to one side. This is when you'll have a nice, no pressure conversation with the voter, and use the Talking Points information. After that, tell the voter you just need to ask them a couple quick questions - whip out your phone, and look to the following options. Firstly, 'Issue' - this opens up a text box, where you ask the voter what is their main issue(s) of concern, and just note down what they say. The 'X' will take you back when done. Then press 'Survey' - this opens up 4 questions you need to ask the voter; press each question for an answer's menu, read out the answers and select the one they choose. If you or they enter the wrong one, just hit clear and enter again. Press the 'X' icon in the top left to exit 'Survey' when you're finished.
The key question here is the last one, asking if they'll vote for Larry. Leave out the G1, G2 etc bit when reading out the possible answers. Everyone you talk to should be either G1 or G2, so your conversations should be quite relaxed and easy.
Here's where you learn more of what to say to voters.
- Firstly before you arrive at a residence, press on the diamond/circle in the map for the current house, and click on its address details that pop up, as above. This will show you several options, depending on how you are greeted at the door - if the voter says they're not interested in talking, to call back later etc, select the relevant option. If the voter allows you to stay and talk, select Canvass. From the new menu, select 'Issue' to open up the comment box. You'll then start a talk with the person, and tell them you'll note their most important issue down.
You then won't need your phone till then end of your talk, when you ask them the survey questions.
When arriving at a house and knocking etc:
- Wait for someone to answer. Say,
Hello, I am X, a volunteer for Larry Sanders, the Green Party candidate for Oxford East.
- If they are willing to speak to you, tap on Canvass then the name to show the voters in the house. Ask,
I am just checking the register. Are you X or Y?
As above, add a new voter if needed.
- Once you know who they are, select Canvass and on the menu press 'Issues'. Here is the script we are using for conversations with voters in the General election.
a) Ask them what is their main issue of concern this election? When they start talking say 'I'll just note that down' and type it into the comment box, as you engage with them. Put your phone down now, for your short conversation.
Be polite and pleasant and just talk about what they say, and if you agree with them, make them feel confident and listened to, and that their issue is important, as it rightly is.
IF they talk for more than 2 or 3 minutes, ask if they would like to talk to the candidate about it. If they say yes, then take out your phone again and ask for their phone number, if they hesitate ask for email address, and note these and their wish to speak further, in the Issues comment box.
b) Then, put the phone down again and start a conversation with the Talking Points. Firstly, use a 'hook' to get a conversation on an issue going, usually a question: "Are you worried that the cuts the Torries are mandating for the NHS will lead to severe reductions in care services?" Or interesting key statements like "This is actually a great progressive, stronghold constituency - the Conservatives have never gotten more than 20% of the vote here, and can't win." Then secondly, get into a small and chummy dialogue with them about our take on the issue you're talking about - use the information in the Talking Points section to tell them what solutions the Green Party is offering for each key issue. You'll have definitely needed to look at these before you canvass unfortunately, as using your phone as reference will be seen as very disingenuous to voters.
- Be sure to talk about the fact that the Conservatives can't win here, at all. This is a very safe progressive seat, and the Conservatives haven't gotten more than 20% of the vote. Many voters will want to vote for the Greens, but will be thinking of voting Labour to block the Torries, since they don't know of the area's progressive safety. So have a chat about it, let them know, and make sure they know they can:
"Really vote for who they believe in, vote where their heart is" etc.
- After the whole conversation is over, tell them you need to ask them a couple quick questions. Whip out your phone, open the Surveys option, and ask them the Q's. Record the answers on your phone and save the record. Then you can politely say goodbye, and go on to the next house. After you've gone, rate the Reception of your visit out of 5 stars. You're now ready for your next voter.
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