College campuses present an unparalleled opportunity for you to practice your political campaign skills. There, you will find anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of potential voters virtually ignored by many political campaigns. This group of voters presents a unique challenge, because they are often apolitical, apathetic, and far away from their home communities. They can be reached, however, by a well-organized effort. To take up this challenge, organize a “Students for McNulty” or “Collegians for Coleman” committee, and help your candidate or candidates garner much needed votes on Election Day. Here’s how to organize a “students for…” committee on your campus:
1. Contact the Campaign
The first step you should take is to contact the campaign and candidate that you would like to support with your organization. You may decide to support only one candidate, or you may be organizing to help a full slate of Republican or Democratic hopefuls. In either case, do you best to coordinate with the campaign. Offer your help in organizing your campus, ask to meet with campaign staff, and attend campaign meetings. The campaign will be glad for your support. Be sure to work with the campaign, helping them implement their strategy for your community. You may also want to contact your local Democratic or Republican Party (or a third party) to coordinate with them as well.
2. Plan Your Strategy
Your goal is to get as many students as possible to vote for your candidate(s). How will you achieve this task? Plan out your strategy before going campus-wide with your campaign. Some of the most effective strategies include:
–Registering students to vote
–Coordinating an absentee ballot campaign
-Holding events, including bringing the candidate to campus
-Writing editorials for the campus newspaper
–Recruiting volunteers for your organization and for the campaign
-Hanging posters and passing out flyers
-Going door-to-door in the student dorms
-Providing transportation to the polls on Election Day
3. Organize Your Effort
The next step is to begin laying the groundwork for your organization. Begin by recruiting members who will help you take your message campus-wide. Try to completely organize your campus by recruiting students to be “captains” or “chairmen” of various areas or tasks. For example, you may appoint captains for each of the dorms, or you may decide to have an absentee ballot chairman, an event chairman, and a poster chairman, etc. Encourage these leaders to recruit more members to help them, thus creating a network of students to help you achieve your goals.
4. Work the Campus
Once the planning is done and your team is taking shape, you are ready to start working the campus. Be sure to spread your message in an organized way, sticking as closely as possible to the plan you laid out. Always be on the look out for potential new members for your group, and be sure to keep in constant contact with other campus groups as well as the campaign. If an emergency situation comes up that wasn’t planned for, meet with your core group of supporters to solicit advice on what direction to take. Keep the campaign informed of your activities whenever possible.
5. Get Out the Vote
The crowning moment of your “Students for” organization is Election Day. In order to help your candidate as much as possible, be sure to organize a get out the vote campaign. During the course of you other activities, you should keep a list of all those students who have indicated that they support your candidate. On Election Day, your team should make sure that these supporters go to the polls. Call them, knock on their doors, remind them that it is Election Day and that your candidate needs their support. You can offer rides to the polls for students who need them, and provide directions and encouragement to your entire list of supporters.