Canvassing Do’s and Don’ts

By Steve Pressman

Canvassing is the best way to convince people to vote. But it’s a lot of work! Here are some handy guidelines to make your canvassing a success:


  • Dress appropriately and wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Take pens, clips, ziplock bag, snacks and water.
  • Be polite, friendly and positive. It is more important that you leave a favorable impression than that you know all the issues.
  • If you can’t answer a question, say “I don’t know” and offer to have campaign get back to them.
  • Respect “No Trespassing” signs.
  • Get all of the information you need.
  • Spend no more than 3-4 minutes with a single voter.
  • For Get Out The Vote, focus on their plan for voting.
  • Expect most houses to not answer.
  • Knock every door assigned, even if no sign they’re home.
  • Knock and ring bell a few times, wait about 45 seconds.
  • Be quick and just hand literature to a voter obviously busy with kids, phone call, etc.
  • Legibly record results from each house.
  • Expect to hit 12-25 doors per hour, less with a persuasion script, more with a GOTV script.
  • Speak with sincerity about why you are volunteering and supporting the candidate.
  • Finish by thanking them for talking with you.
  • If no one is home, leave literature slid in or under door.
  • Try to make duplicate copies of walk lists, so you can leapfrog houses or do opposite sides of street with your partner.
  • Get cell phone numbers of canvass partners.

Do Not

  • Open screen/storm door or step into doorway until voter opens door.
  • Enter voter’s home.
  • Wear sunglasses at the door.
  • Don’t initiate handshake or other physical contact.
  • Argue with a voter.
  • Be negative about opponent.
  • Leave literature in mailboxes (illegal).
  • Walk on lawns.
  • Start by asking permission or time to talk.
  • Give long, rambling speeches.
  • Read every word of script or go off-message.
  • Get bogged down in long conversation. Politely cut it off.
  • Don’t make up information or an answer when you don’t know. Refer voter to campaign office.
  • Skip a house with “No Soliciting” sign.  You’re not selling anything.
  • Waste time if voter never votes Democratic.
  • Go back to doors that didn’t answer.
  • Get discouraged if most houses don’t answer.

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