OTHER GROW WIKI DOCUMENTS: http://wiki.cagreens.org/index.php/Grassroots_Organizing_Working_Group
CHAPTER 4: A SAMPLE ORIENTATION
By Joe Louis Wildman in 1991, updated in 2012.
I divide orientations into two parts. The first part deals with registration cards and techniques for maximizing the number of valid registrations. The second part deals with the Green Party's history and platform. If one person does both parts, volunteers will start tuning out the speaker's voice; so I have two people do the orientation, and if possible I have a man do one part and a woman do the other.
This sample orientation covers only the first part--registration cards and techniques.
Before beginning, I give each volunteer a clipboard. Then I say something like this:
I'm going to be going over the registration form and some techniques; and after I talk, Jessica will talk a little bit about the Green Party's platform and history. And then we'll answer some questions before we all go out and register voters.
Has everyone here registered to vote with the Green Party? Then you already have a basic idea how to fill out the registration form. Fortunately it asks only questions that people know the answers to: Name, address, birthdate, occupation...
This registration card can be used to register any resident of California, from any county, but is good only for residents of California. If someone from another county fills out this card, our registrar will forward the card to their county. We are obligated to register anyone regardless of what party they choose to register with. However, if they indicate they are not interested in registering with the Green Party, simply hand them a registration card and send them on their merry way.
If they are registering with the Green Party, keep the registration card on the clipboard and fold it under to expose the next registration card. We will turn the cards in ourselves after we've copied the information we want from them. If a registrant wants a receipt, fill out the receipt at the bottom of their card and give it to them. Be sure that the number on the receipt matches the card they have filled out (sometimes people peel a receipt off the wrong card). Almost no one will ask for a receipt.
If you look at the registration cards, you will see boxes labeled 1 through 18.
Make sure that everything else is filled out by the registrant. The most common things people forget to fill out are their birthday and their state or country of origin. Make a special point of checking these to make sure they're filled in.
Let me go out of sequential order, and start by talking about Box 14. This is where people indicate their desire to join the Green Party. Because this is so critical to us, I strongly recommend that when you hand someone a registration form, you ask them to start with Box 7 by checking "Green Party".
Many people--out of habit or because they think they're to indicate their PREVIOUS party in this space--check one of the other parties. If they do, and their intention was to register Green, they must thoroughly cross out their mistake, and they must initial the change.
Now let's go back to sequential order. Everyone must have an address in Box 4 that is not a post office box, and is an address where someone can actually live, so that the registrar can determine what districts the voter resides in.
Box 5 asks for the county they reside in. Most people aren't used to writing the name of the county, so make sure it's there.
If someone is homeless, they can still register, but they must fill in Box 6 with the address of a shelter, or an intersection, or description of a place they stay.
Box 7 is where people can list a post office box, if that's where they receive their mail.
Alot of people think their birthdate is nobody's business, but if Box 9 is left blank, their registration will not be processed.
Box 10, birthplace, should be a simple abbreviation of a state or foreign country.
You will notice that email address, Box 12, and the phone number, Box 13, are optional; however, we want to make a point of asking everyone who registers with the Green Party to please put their email address and phone number so that we can contact them in the future. For a registrant who wants to volunteer, an email address and phone number are essential!
Box 16 is there so that the registrar can look up the person's previous registration and either remove it or modify it. If a person has moved, they should put the address of their previous registration. However, if the only information that is changing with this registration is their party affiliation, they can write the word "same" across the box and their previous party on the line labeled "political party".
Box 18 is for their signature and the date. The Secretary of State, in an effort to make the box for the signature more visible, has put a red border around it. As a result, many people think it is a box "for official use only" and skip it. The signature is absolutely essential. Be sure it's there. Also make sure that the date is filled in.
There is a sidebox with the question, "Did someone help you fill out or deliver this form? This is there in the event that you register someone who is blind, has no hands, or for some reason needs you to actually fill the form out for them. You need to sign here only if you have filled out the form. It is not necessary for you to sign it just because you have answered their questions about the form.
You do not have to be a citizen or a registered voter to go out and register people. You don't even need to be an animate object, as cards are often placed in boxes at supermarkets and libraries.
Are there any questions about registration cards?
Now let's talk about techniques for getting people to register Green.
It's important to remember that we are out there performing a service. You aren't asking anyone a favor by offering them an opportunity to register with the Green Party. You can be proud and keep your spirits high--even though most people will walk right past you as though you don't exist. There is no need to feel insulted. And there is no need to chase people down. Some of these people, at another time, will decide to stop and check us out; in the meantime, we should respect their desire to be left alone.
However, we should ask EVERYONE, as they approach, "Will you register with the Green Party?" While this may get tedious, be assured that for the 2.5 hours or so you are asking people, 10 to 20 people will express gratitude and admiration for your being there and register with the Green Party. We want to ask everyone, because we want everyone to know the Green Party is growing in California. Also, don't try to guess who will or won't register by their appearance. You will often be fooled.
Set your ironing board up in a visible place where most people will have to walk past it. You may be wondering why we use ironing boards instead of card tables. They are at a much better height for people to write on; they are less likely to block a sidewalk or an entrance because they are so narrow; they are lightweight and easily transported--and because many people are not used to seeing ironing boards out of their usual context, you are much less ignorable. I highly recommend ironing boards. I swear by them.
Put the ironing board against a wall. This makes it more stable and prevents you from standing behind it. If you stand behind an ironing board waiting for people to come to you, you may be lucky enough to register 4 or 5 people in your two and a half hour shift. But if you stand out in front of your ironing board, make eye contact with people as they approach, and say, "Hello. Will you register with the Green Party?", you should be able to get 10 to 20 people, and if we are to be successful, you need to do that.
As you ask them, physically offer up the clipboard to them. People almost by reflex will take something when you are handing it to them. If they aren't interested, they will have to actively avoid taking it.
Many people are afraid to ask for what they want. Instead of asking "Will you register with the Green Party?", they feel safer asking something like, "Are you registered to vote?" or "Have you heard of the Green Party?" This is a mistake. You are likely to get what you asked for. People will answer "yes" or "no", be satisfied that they have fulfilled their social contract with you, and go on about their business. If you want them to register with the Green Party, ask them to register with the Green Party.
When someone stops and takes the board, direct them to Box 14 and tell them to check "Green Party" first. This is the best way to make sure we get them to register with us.
Don't stand there and savor the moment as somebody fills in the form. This is the time to ask other people. When one person has stopped to fill out a form, the likelihood of others stopping increases greatly. They notice you more; you appear safer; and if someone else is doing it, maybe they should be, too.
When the person thinks they are done, they will physically offer the board back to you. Resist your reflex to take it! Look at the board first and make sure they have filled in Boxes 1 through 18. If they have missed something, and you need them to fill it in, it is infinitely easier to get them to do it while the board is still in their hands. If it is all filled in properly, take the board from them, thank them, and welcome them to the Green Party. I generally shake their hand.
Remember: Say hello. Ask for what you want. Physically offer them the clipboard. Ask them to start with Box 14. Check the board before you take it back from them. Thank them and welcome them to the Green Party.
You are not done with this person, because there are three things that we need today. One is registrations. The second is volunteers. Ask the person, "Is it ok if we contact you to see if you're interested in helping us reach our goal of 100,000 registered voters by the end of the year?" Make sure we have their email address and phone number, and if they express an interest in volunteering, put a "V" in the upper right hand corner of their registration card. The "V" tells our data entry person to code them as a volunteer.
The third thing we need is money. There is a donation can on your ironing board. Don't be shy. I usually say something like, "We don't take corporate contributions. Could you please help out with a dollar? It would make a big difference." If you ask everyone who registers, and even some who don't, you are very likely to average 70 cents in contributions for every registration, and that's how we pay for these ironing boards and signs.
Remember, ask everyone. Don't be insulted by people who ignore you. Ask everyone who registers if they can volunteer, and ask them for a dollar.
Don't get into arguments. Do get into (short) conversations, because we want to know what people are thinking and wondering about the Green Party. We're a grassroots political party, and these contacts on the street are very important. Presumably, you like to talk about politics, or you wouldn't be here, so don't hesitate to get into conversations--provided they do not become overly extended and prevent you from serving other people who would like to register with the Green Party.
Most people won't ask questions. They have a general idea about what the Green Party is, and they either want to--or don't want to--join us. But let's talk a moment about those people who do ask questions. Generally I find that the number of questions is inversely proportional to the likelihood of their registering Green.
If you don't know the answer to a question, don't fake it. Refer them to the phone number on the flyer. They can call for information.
Jessica will go over some things that you may be asked about the Green Party, but my experience is the number one question you get asked is not about the Green Party at all. The question is, "If I register with the Green Party, does this mean I can't vote in the Democratic primary?"
The answer is, "No. Starting this June, we have open primaries in California. That means when you go to vote in all primary elections (except the presidential primary), you will see all of the candidates of all parties on your ballot. You can vote for one person, regardless of your party and the candidate's party. In other words, you can be a registered Green and vote for a Democrat in the primary. The top two candidates in the primary will proceed to the general election."
Be sure to come back for the debriefing. We want to count up your registration cards, count up the volunteers you recruited, and count up the money you collected. We also want to drink some coffee, eat some cookies, and chat about how the process was and any ideas you have to improve it. Also, I want to know whether or not you had fun out there--because it's supposed to be fun. And if you didn't have fun, I want to talk to you about how to have fun next time. Thanks!