Online Get Out the Vote Campaign

Caller Guide

In the 2000 election, over 100 million Americans failed to vote, including millions of those most affected by unjust government policies.

The election of November 2, 2004 may be the most important election of our lives.

If the people who are affected by government policies don't participate, they will permit these government policies to continue and narrow interest groups to control the course of the country.

You can affect the outcome of this election . We've designed a simple way to make a huge impact: simply by making brief phone calls to encourage low income, minority and young voters to show up at the polls. Experts say that a personal phone call from an enthusiastic volunteer is one of the most effective means of encouraging people to vote.

If one million young, low income and minority voters

who registered to vote in this election can make it to the polls, they will have a powerful impact on American democracy, compelling our leaders to bring greater justice to our country and peace to our world.

What will happen on November 2? Make a difference. Make a call.

About VoterCall

VoterCall is a non-partisan project of Res Publica with support from True Majority and National Voice. Our only political position is a strong defense of democratic principles: only when all people voice their concerns through their votes will they be protected from unrepresentative government.

Goals of the campaign

VoterCall will help reach one million young, low income and minority voters: If 50,000 people volunteer two hours apiece, we will mobilize tens of thousands of new voters!

Why an online get out the votecampaign?

A coalition of nonpartisan groups has collected voter records for over 4 million voters from precincts with traditionally low voter turnout, such as minority or low-income precincts. Though many local campaigns are underway to get out the vote, some precincts remain uncovered.

That's where we step in.

How it works

VoterCall is an online call bank. Anyone who shares the goals of the campaign and has access to the internet and a telephone line can participate by doing the following:

  1. Register to join the campaign. Just visit

  2. Login. You can choose your own username and password.

  3. Start placing phone calls.

  4. Keep a record of the results and move on to the next voter.

It's that easy!

Setting Personal Goals

You can commit as much time as you feel you able to give to this campaign. The more time you spend calling voters, the greater your impact will be in increasing voter turnout on November 2nd 2004.

  1. o Some participants in the VoterCall Campaign have set ambitious goals of attempting to reach 2004 voters.

  2. o Others can only offer a few hours from now until the elections.

  3. o Some participants in the VoterCall campaign are actively working with other campaigns, but find our system is a helpful supplement to their efforts and fits conveniently with their schedule.

Reaching 10 voters in one hour is an excellent and achievable goal.

VoterCall is working with the National Voice, an umbrella organization with participating groups such as Rock the Vote, American Families United, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and dozens of other organizations. None of these groups is targeting voters with any specific political affiliation. None are trying to persuade voters to support or oppose any particular candidate.

How effective is this approach?

Scientific studies have determined that volunteer phone banks are one of the most effective strategies for increasing voter turnout.

How effective? 2-6 times as effective as leaflets;
5 times as effective as direct mail;
10 times as effective as many commercial phone banks;
more than 1000 times as effective as automated robo-dialers;
If one million voters are called, that could add 50,000 new voters this year!
Calling voters also helps identify where assistance is most needed to enable other groups to provide transportation or other assistance.

Source: Green & Gerber, Get Out the Vote! (2004)

Record answers for each voter while you make calls so you can record their answers when you log in.


If you are calling from the East Coast, take advantage of the time zone difference to call voters in the West.

How to Place Calls

Who to call: When you register, a list of voters to call will be provided for you. Clicking on any voter will let you select voters and see their phone numbers.

When to call: The best times to call during work days are between 4:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. During weekends, call between 11:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Keep in mind time zone changes when you are calling. Also remember, you'e;ll be less likely to catch people at home on Friday and Saturday nights.

Where to call from: You can call anywhere you have a telephone. Access to the Internet from the location where you are calling will make things easier.

My computer uses the phone line to access the internet. Can I still participate in this campaign?

Absolutely! There are two ways you can do this:

  1. If you have a cell phone, you can log on with your computer and make calls with your cell phone. This way, you can easily update the questionnaires while you are speaking to the voters.

  2. If you only have one phone line for both internet and normal calls, you'e;ll need to print out your list of voters to call. Here'e;s how:

Log on at Votercall. Select your list ofvoters.

Select any voter on your list; go to call script for that voter. Print out one copy of this script and read through it (see below for details about the call script).

Go back to your contact list.

At the top right hand side of your screen, a link says Printable Call
Click on it.
A table will pop up with all the voters on your list.
Print this list. (note: popup windows may be disabled on your computer; you'll have to allow popup windows to display. If you don't know how to do this, contact technical support for help.)

On the right of your list, there are letters and numbers that correspond to the answers to questions on your questionnaire (see next section). Circle these as you speak to voters.

Log back on and record your calls. Once you'e;ve done this, you'e;re finished with your current list!

Record responses from voters with these buttons. You'e;ll have different questions on your call script, so read through them first.


Record Contact;

at the bottom of the questionnaire to record the results of your conversations. Read through the call script text - it really helps! Voter name and phone number.

What to Say: Using the Call Script

The call script will help you communicate with voters and provide a way to record your conversations. Going through a complete call script should take no more than 2 or 3 minutes, but feel free to chat with voters about issues or the experience of voting: this will make your calls much more effective.

Before using the script:

  1. Read through the script out loud. You might print out a copy and make notes on it. Practice a few times. Personalize it. Grow comfortable with it. Know the questions you'e;ll ask before you ask them.

  2. Think about where you are calling. Keep in mind time zone changes. Calls from the West Coast to the East Coast, should not be made after 6 pm.

  3. Anticipate any questions voters might ask you. Many of these voters will be voting for the first time: you don'e;t have to know where their polling place is, but you might help them by pointing out some resources. Helpful links are provided at

  4. Smile. It makes a big difference.

While using the script

  1. Build rapport. Ask voters how they are doing. Listen. No need to rush: you will be more effective by chatting with a few voters than running through dozens. Asking a voter about his/her personal concerns may help ease into a chat.

  2. Sooth any fears about voting. Many people who are voting for the first time may feel a bit intimidated. Think back on what it was like for you your first time. Be sympathetic.

  3. Be sure to thank people. Simply thanking a person for participating in their own democracy is an effective approach to encouraging them to vote, even if the person sounds unsure.

When recording your calls

  1. Be sure to record people's responses when they say they need help. Each time you complete a call script with a voter, click on & Record Contact to store the answers to those questions. (Note: there is another button, to Record Attempt's if you fail to reach the voter. Pushing this button will erase any answers to the questionnaires that you enter; so be sure to Record Contact's; instead!)

  2. Take any notes about the conversation that might be helpful. Perhaps the voter asked you a question: by recording that question in the notes area, you can follow up with them yourself or the next person to call may be able to do so.

  3. Leaving messages. It is much less effective to leave a message than to speak directly with a voter. Try not to leave any messages until after you have made 3 attempts to call a voter. However, if you can not make 3 attempts, just record that you have called did not leave messages at the bottom of the call script. If you do not reach the voter, you should click on Record Attempt's, after trying to reach the voter to store a record that you tried to reach this person.

  4. Consider recruiting enthusiastic voters to participate in the campaign. If the voter is enthusiastic and receptive, you might ask them to join the campaign and help bring other voters to the polls!

10 Tips for better calling

  1. Smile; they can tell.

  2. Be friendly and enthusiastic.

  3. Be clear and direct.

  4. Try to sound conversational.

  5. Listen carefully and politely.

  6. Write down any questions the voter has for you that you can not answer.

  7. Allow for five rings.

  8. Ask for the person on your voter list.

  9. Practice makes perfect!

  10. Remember: you are not selling anything; you are serving democracy.

Frequently asked questions

I am a bit nervous about calling these voters. What should I do?

We will be providing training to help build confidence for volunteers who are struggling to get over that initial hurdle. Just remember: you are not selling anything, but only calling people to help them exercise their rights.

Where did these voter records come from?

The voters on our lists come from public information collected by National Voice, a coalition of non-profit and community groups working to maximize public participation in our nation's democratic process. By combining all of these voter records, the National Voice is helping these groups to coordinate their efforts to prevent duplication and waste.

How do I call voters in my local area?

This project is targeting low-income and minority neighborhoods nationwide, with a focus on the swing states. For many people, that means calling long-distance. For others who live in swing states, we are working on a way to get you lists of voters who are local for you.

What will you do about voters who say they need assistance getting to the polls?

If you record that a voter needs assistance, this information will be forwarded to local organizations located near the voter you contact. These groups will attempt to meet any needs that you discover during your conversations.

I can not access the internet at the same time I place calls. Can I still participate? Yes you can. First, you can print a call script for each voter. Check out the section for Calling while away from a computer for details of how to print out a list of voters, log the calls, and get more voters.

What if I want to express my opinions about the candidates?

The VoterCall Campaign is a strictly nonpartisan campaign; however, as a volunteer, you are certainly entitled to your own opinion. Please though, do not attempt to alter the message of the campaign unless you are asked by voters for your own opinion, and make clear when you do so that you are speaking in an individual capacity and not on behalf of the campaign.

Back to the Home Page of