Canvassing Primer

What is Canvassing?

  • Canvassing is considered the gold standard for mobilizing voters because face-to-face interactions are the most effective way to connect with people.

  • Canvassing in the final days and weeks before Election Day usually means knocking on the doors of voters who support your candidate or ballot question, and making a plan with them to actually go vote! Earlier in a campaign it might be knocking on doors of undecided voters and persuading them to support your candidate or ballot question.

  • It builds community and makes your group stronger.

  • It can be fun!

How Does Canvassing Work?

Most campaigns depend on volunteers knocking on doors to mobilize voter turnout. Typically there are regular meeting points for volunteers to connect with campaign staff or leaders of independent groups that organize canvasses. For example, every Saturday at 10am volunteers might meet at the campaign’s headquarters or the home of a volunteer. Volunteers will go through a brief orientation process and training so they’re prepared to knock on doors. You’ll get a “turf” packet with names and addresses of target voters, a map to help you determine the best route, a script that guides what you say, and a place to track the responses you get. Organize a carpool with friends and volunteers to go canvass!

Additional Resources


Indivisible 435 :  A Practical Guide for Winning Elections. Chapter 2: Voter Contact Tactics that Win Elections

Canvassing Tips:  Canvassing Tips from a Seasoned Door-knocker 


Resistance School:

How to Knock on Doors: Persuasion Canvass

How to Knock on Doors: Commit to Action Canvass

How to Launch a Canvass

Listening Partnerships and Deep Canvassing

Mobilize America:  Canvassing Training

TEDx Talk by Dave Fleischer on Deep Canvassing:  How We Can Reduce Prejudice with a Conversation


Note: When you show up to canvass you will be given a script by the campaign which you can adapt to talk with voters.

Indivisible:  Sample Voter Identification Script

Resistance School :  Sample Commit-to-Action Script

When you are done?

  • Gather with your group to debrief.

  • Go around and offer everyone a few minutes to share their experiences.

  • What worked well? What could be done better next time?

  • Thank everyone for participating in building the blue wave – call by call, door by door!

  • Plan for another carpool next week.

Do you have any tips?

  • Wear comfortable clothes, especially shoes.

  • Make sure your phone is fully charged in case the campaign has you use an app.

  • LISTEN! Listen to voters to find out what they care about in order to connect with them. Don’t just talk AT them. Ask questions. Be curious!

  • Don’t let rejection bring you down. If you come across someone who doesn’t support your campaign, track it in your packet. This is valuable information for the campaign to update its database.

  • Coordinate with others in your town to organize a weekly carpool. Set goals for how to grow the number of volunteers each week!