Relational Voter Organizing? What the heck is that?
Relational Voter Organizing (RVO) is quite simply talking to people you already know about voting. It’s one of the easiest and most effective methods of voter engagement because you’re talking to the people who already trust you about the candidates you support!
A Little Prep Work
A great place to start RVO is with a quick brainstorm session to help you come up with a list of people to contact. Ask yourself “Who are my people?” and start making a list of people in each of the following categories. Set yourself a goal of anywhere between five to 20 people (or more if you’re feeling up to it!)
- Friends (remember social media!)
- Community groups (PTA, church, clubs)
Once you have your list, go through it and write down how you plan to contact each person. The best conversations happen in person or over the phone, but these days many people prefer starting with text, messenger, or social media. Here’s an example:
1. Samantha (daughter) – text
2. Greg (son) – send message on Facebook
3. Lydia (sister) – call
4. Michael (brother) – talk to at the BBQ
After you’ve determined the best way to initially contact each person on your RVO list, you’re ready to go to work.
Having the Conversation
It’s always a good idea to catch up with each person on your list for a moment/message or two. Ask them how they have been or what they have been up to can be a great way to transition into an RVO conversation. Here are some examples of transitions.
EXAMPLE: “ I’m doing pretty well. Enjoying the new job. How are you?”
RESPONSE: “I’m great! I’ve been working a lot, but it hasn’t been too busy at the hospital. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about the Election that’s coming up. Are you planning to vote?”
EXAMPLE: “I’ve been pretty busy getting the kids settled into school. What have you been up to?”
RESPONSE: “I hear you. I’ve been busy too! I’ve actually been doing some volunteering for the election this year. Are you planning to vote?”
Let the conversation flow naturally, but share your story and talk about the candidates you’re supporting and why. Remember to stay positive and highlight the issues that are most important to you and why you know your candidates will make a difference!
After talking about who’s on the ballot, you need to make sure they actually vote. The next part of RVO is getting a few key pieces of information:
Do they have a plan? Having a plan to vote increases the likelihood of that person actually voting. A vote plan includes the when, where, and who’s coming along. Here’s an example of a vote plan:
“I’m going on Election Day before work. I’ll be taking my daughter with me and dropping her off at day care afterward.”
Note: If they say they are voting early, ask them what specific day. If they are voting on Election Day, try to find out around what time (because that’s their last chance). The more specific the vote plan, the higher the follow through!
Do they know where to go? Early voting and Election Day voting are typically in different places. Make sure they know where to go. If they aren’t sure, help them figure it out at www.mnvotes.org.
Take Notes and Follow Up!
For each person you contact, take a few basic notes to keep yourself organized. If you leave a message on someone’s voicemail and don’t here back for a day or two, try a different method (like texting or using social media).
It’s a great idea to follow up the morning of Election Day. A simple “Hey! Did you get a chance to vote?” can work really well. Photos can be really impactful, so think about taking a picture of yourself at the polls or with your ‘I Voted’ sticker and share it with “I voted! Did you make it to the polls yet?”
Above all, remember to be yourself. You authentically care about this election and the people in your life. Keep that in mind as you’re having conversations, and RVO will be the easiest and most effective voter engagement you’ve ever done.