Friday, October 12, 2012

Voter Empowerment And Poll Greeters

by Deborah Angell-Smith

Join us for Democratic Network Educational Forum discussion on the role and importance of poll greeters, at 10:45am this Sat., October 13th, at the John & Judy Gay Library in McKinney. (John & Judy Gay Library - 6861 El Dorado Parkway,  McKinney - Map)

If you're reading this, you're someone who is probably going to be on the "front lines" of this election. Whether you're going to be a poll greeter, election worker, poll watcher or campaign worker, it's important that you know the "rules of engagement" and how to be most effective at whatever you do. Our next Democratic Network Forum will help!

This Saturday morning, October 13th, Barbara Walters, President of Texas Democratic Women - Collin County, veteran activist and professional trainer, will present a program designed for poll greeters (the dedicated folks who stand outside of polling places encouraging voters to vote for Democratic candidates), but it will also be helpful for election workers, poll watchers and campaign workers. If you're not sure which role suits you best, Barb's presentation will help you figure it out! Regardless of where you fit into the election picture, she'll fill you in on the basics of behavior in and around polling places so you don't get yourself (or your candidate) in trouble, and make the best use of your time.

Saturday
October 13, 2012
13
Don't forget, the King Street Patriots, local Tea Party groups and conservative activists of all stripes are actively recruiting and training followers to "True the Vote" in ways that are clearly designed to intimidate legitimate voters and suppress votes from ethnic and religious minorities, young people and other targeted populations. On the heels of months of conflicts and court fights, confusion and errors in the election process are virtually guaranteed, and many voters still have concerns about the electronic voting machines. There WILL be problems, and as an activist, you'll want to be ready to help in any way you can.

Our program will be held at the John & Judy Gay Library in McKinney, 6861 El Dorado Parkway, just east of Alma. There's plenty of room, and we need as many Democrats as we can find informed and ready to step in wherever they're needed, so PLEASE BRING OTHERS WITH YOU! Join us for coffee and breakfast goodies at 10:45 am and the program will get started at 11. We'll wrap up by 1 pm and those who care to continue the discussion can adjourn to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Like most activists, the Democratic Network Forum will take a break in November and December. We encourage you to recuperate from the election, rest and spend time with your family and friends. We'll see you at various holiday parties and be back in January with informative programs to educate you about issues that affect us here in Collin County, and what we, as Democrats, can do to make things better. Keep in mind that the Texas Legislature starts back up again in January, and local candidates will be filing for city council and school board elections, so we'll have plenty to talk about!

As always, we invite your input on topics, speakers, format and other options - and encourage you to get involved in growing our network. We'll have sign-up and comment sheets at the event, but if you aren't able to attend, please e-mail us at info@collindems.net, or call (469) 713-2031 to leave a voice message.


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Democratic Network Educational Forum

Poll Greeter Guide

Poll Greeters are outside the 100-foot marker and their activities are not very restricted. They can electioneer, help voters with ballots, wave candidate signs, and help support their party's candidates in the voting process as long as they stay outside the 100 ft marker of the polling place.

Contact your Political Party’s and or Candidates’ campaign office(s) and ask for the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) or Poll Greeter Coordinator to inquire about a poll greeter assignment.

What to Wear:
  • Comfortable layers of clothing as the temperature will change throughout the day.
  • Comfortable shoes, because you may be standing for long periods of time.
  • Sunscreen, as there is little shade at polling places.
What to Bring:
  • Bottles of Water and snacks/energy bars
  • Extra sunscreen, sunglasses, an umbrella (for shade and rain)
  • A book, radio or MP3 player for when there is no voter traffic
  • A cell phone (or locate a nearby payphone)
  • A folding chair
  • Handbook for Election Judges and Clerks
  • Election Day phone numbers and web address
  • Folding table for Candidate and Party literature
  • Candidate and Party literature and signs
What to Expect:

People happy to see you there; those who are hostile to you being there; and many people indifferent to you being there
  • An election official, a hostile voter or someone from another party may question your presence. While this is rare, be prepared for anything. In addition, ALL greeters, signs and literature must be a specified distance from the entrance to the polling place.
  • Voter traffic will fluctuate dramatically. Many tend to vote before or after work. Some arrive during their lunch break or after-school. Typically, there is a lower turnout during non-presidential election years.
  • A long but satisfying day. You may leave with more energy than when you started because you made a huge difference.
As a Poll Greeter, your main responsibilities are:
  1. To project a positive, enthusiastic attitude;
  2. To give palm cards or other handouts; and
  3. To thank arriving people for voting, encourage them to vote for your party or particular candidates and ask if they have any last minute questions.
  4. Thank departing people for voting too.
The job seems simple and extremely repetitive, but executing all three tasks at the same time throughout the day is harder than it seems. Make each handout and greeting as genuine, enthusiastic, and effective as the first.
  • Say “Thank you for voting today, and please vote for these great candidates.”
  • If you are alone, do not encage in lengthy discussions of the issues/candidates with people that want to talk. Direct them to the Hospitality Table that you set up that has candidate and or party literature.
  • Position yourself next to the main pathway into the polling place, but do not block it. Always make sure you are outside the restricted area.
  • Keep smiling, even in the face of hostile people. Remember that you are making a positive difference and there are lot more people grateful that you are there. Your calm and polite response to a hostile voter creates a positive impression of both you and the party.
Keep your chair and personal items nearby so you can easily sit down when time permits but you are able to remain in position to greet new voters.

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