Organizing Precincts with Precinct Captains
By Chuck Ruetter 01/31/2017
As I have mentioned before, the best way to impact politics is to organize at the precinct level. And the best way to organize is to put someone in charge.
When it comes to organizing in precincts, that means “Precinct Captains”.
So what is a Precinct Captain? Put simply, a precinct captain is someone who serves as a point of contact between the people in their local neighborhood and outside Progressive political groups and activities.
By distributing petitions, getting political information to Progressive neighbors, making get-out-the-vote phone calls on or before an Election Day, a Precinct Captain can mobilize a large bloc of people to influence political and legislative activities.
It is also important to understand that many of the activities of a precinct captain are seasonal. Depending on what elections are approaching or what’s happening in Congress, your state legislature or local council, your focus and activity levels will vary, but there are some primary goals.
The primary goals of precinct captains
1: Identify Ten Progressive Activists
This is probably the most important job of any precinct captain, because in order to put the meat on the bones of any organization, you need people, and that means identifying others who are willing to help. Try to identify at least ten. These will be the people who are the most interested in what you are doing.
The goal is to be able to quickly line up volunteers when a major project comes up and help is needed. Keep in mind that different people enjoy doing different things. Make note of what they’re willing to do and use them accordingly. There will be many different things to do and plenty of work to go around.
2: Identify Other Progressive Voters
Now that a core group of activists has been identified, what should they do? Identify fellow Progressives. A good goal is to find enough Progressive voters to equal 10% of the total number of registered voters in any given precinct. This is plain, old-fashioned voter identification.
There are any number of ways to go about it, from using issues surveys, petitions, church directories, etc., and cross-referencing that information with voter registration lists.
3: Educate and Mobilize Identified Voters
Once a list of identified Progressives has been put together, the next step is to educate them and get them involved. This can include distributing voter education materials to them on candidates or ballot issues, making sure that they actually vote on Election Day, or encouraging them to lobby the local school board, council or state legislature on some key issue.
It’s also important to encourage them to get involved in their local Democratic Party. The more solid Progressives we have in Democratic grassroots and leadership positions, the better for the Progressive movement as a whole.
4: Stay Informed
Finally, a precinct captain’s job is to keep up to date on current and future projects, activities and opportunities for activism – and pass the information on to others.
When you’ve got this kind of organization on a precinct by precinct basis, then you’ve got an infrastructure that can be activated and have an impact on the things you care about when it counts!