Do you have political interests and concerns? And now that we’re out of lockdowns and are getting out and about, do you want to meet more like-minded people? If so, here’s a prescription: get involved!
Political parties always need people to work on behalf of shared concerns. An important plus? It’s an ideal way to make friends with like-minded folks.
It’s easy to get involved. Get in touch with your local political party (an Internet search will give you the information), attend the meetings and gatherings and pay attention. When there is a call for volunteers – and as the election season heats up, there are going to be plenty calls – sign up.
There are several ways for people to become politically involved and socially engaged.
Political canvassing occurs when political campaign staffers and/or volunteers make person-to-person contact with would-be voters in an attempt to “put a face” on candidates, on new propositions or on new ballot initiatives. (Learn more about canvassing here.)
During primary and election seasons canvassers knock on doors and/or “meet and greet” people in high passersby areas to:
- Obtain signatures to get candidates or initiatives on the ballot;
- Register eligible people to vote for the canvasser’s party of choice;
- Help a voter to change his party affiliation, again for the canvasser’s party of choice;
- Give information to undecided voters (including handing out palm cards) on proposition or ballot initiatives, candidates’ positions on various issues, reasons for office holder recall effort, etc.
- Dress for the weather. Wind-breakers if windy; umbrellas if there’s going to be light on-and-off rain. (A lot of rain? Stay home!)
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Carry a bottle of water, snacks, and, if you plan to put in a long day far from delis or food stores, bring sandwiches.
Canvassing can be fun as well as rewarding if you work in teams. Starting in her early sixties, May Linton, a politically active 76 year-old, reports making friends that she still sees over a decade later for non-political fun. “We go to movies, the theater and meet for small dinner parties and birthday celebrations,” she says. “With the pandemic substantially behind us, I resumed door knocking a few weeks ago and already met two new canvassers who live less than five blocks away!”
Poll watching is what the name implies: watching the stream of voters enter and leave a polling place to help ensure that one’s party isn’t disadvantaged during the vote. By definition, poll watching is partisan: you’re looking out for your party’s success and are working to ensure that your candidates or ballot initiatives win.
Even so, poll watching can be friendly. If the election day turn-out is low and slow, watchers often have time to chat as they observe voters casting their ballots.
Rules vary to be a watcher; check with your local party for the rules in your area. In general, you must be a registered voter, but sometimes you must also be registered in the specific county where you’re “watching.” Some states even require that you be a resident of the precinct where you’re watching.
It’s easy to become a poll watcher: Just let the leadership in your political party know that you’re willing to volunteer. Count on it: You’ll be drafted for a watching shift or even the whole day!
Election Day Worker
Get paid! Every voting locale hires men and women to work through the voting day to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
The workers’ main responsibility is checking in voters to verify that actually live in the district and are qualified to vote at that location. If there are questions about a voter’s eligibility, workers give the person a provisional ballot that allows him or her to vote pending review of the individual’s actual voting status.
On slow voting days, there’s plenty of time to chat. Those who work in celebrity area precincts sometimes enjoy the extra kick of checking in a famous person.
While every voting location has regulars who work on election days, new workers are almost always needed. To find out about election day worker hiring and training in your area, visit: https://www.eac.gov/voters/become-poll-worker
Nona Aguilar is an award-winning writer of numerous magazine articles and two books. She has also edited four specialty business newsletter publications. Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Family Circle and Cosmopolitan, and in The Business Owner.
I have been an election official in three state over the decades. Currently during elections, I work 4 days at $20/hr and sometimes help with setup another day. I love being part of the process. In the past I was on my county’s central committee for my party and attended state and national conventions.