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Phonebanking FAQs & Best Practices

Who are the voters we’re reaching out to? 

Through our tools, you'll be connected with registered voters in areas across the country. This year, we think it is really important to make sure everyone stands up to be counted, so we are focusing on talking to never-voters to semi-frequent voters, to remind them to vote in November. We know that we can't win this cycle without a wave of support up and down the ballot.

What does the average phone banking shift look like? 

Great question! While each phone banker’s results will vary, the average shift is about two hours long, and the average phone banker dials about 45 to 50 numbers per hour.

What is the best time of day to call? 

Another great question! If you’re calling during the week, Monday through Friday, the best time to call is 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. local time of the state you’re calling into. This is when most voters are off from work and at home, and likely able to answer your call. On Saturdays, peak call time is 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. local time of the state you’re calling into. And on Sundays, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. local time is best. 

I am getting a lot of disconnected and wrong numbers. Is that common?

Yes, it is, especially when we first start calling into an OpenVPB. Voters change their phone numbers and/or move very often. But don’t be discouraged! Finding out that these numbers are disconnected or the wrong number for the voter is a good thing. Removing these numbers from our lists helps clean the lists up, and if we have additional numbers for the voter, those numbers are added for the next round of calls, increasing our chances of contacting the voter. Just mark these numbers with the appropriate selection from the “I couldn’t reach…” options, click save, and move on to the next voter. And every cycle sees improvements in the technology VAN uses to help filter out disconnected or wrong numbers. So we’ll see less of these numbers as time goes by. 

How many times should I let the phone ring before hanging up?

Not all voters have answering machines or voicemail service. The average answering machine or voicemail service is activated after 7 to 8 rings. If after 7 to 8 rings no one picks up or an answering machine or voicemail service is not activated, mark the voter as ‘not home’ and move on to the next voter.  

What if someone other than the voter I am trying to reach answers? 

In this situation, marking the voter as ‘not home’ is the correct response. Unless the person on the phone confirms they are who you want to speak with, then mark the voter as ‘not home’. We do not accept answers to our questions for a voter from their spouse, family member, roommate, etc, as not all relatives or household members vote the same way. 

What if the voter says they are not voting for a candidate in that particular race?

If a voter says they are not voting for any candidate in a particular race, leave the drop down menu for that question blank, and scroll down to the notes section at the end of your script and indicate that the voter does not plan to vote for a candidate in that particular race. 

What if the voter says they cannot speak at the moment and to call them back? 

Mark the voter as ‘not home’ so that they stay on our list and we can attempt to call them at a later date. 

Do we leave messages? 

When phone banking, unless instructed by your Organizer or group leader, it's best practice not to leave messages. The time you take leaving a message might result in you missing the opportunity to speak to the next voter on your list. And a live conversation is always preferred when engaging with voters over leaving a message. If a voter does not pick up, someone else picks up and tells you the voter is not home/available, your call goes to voicemail, or the phone rings more than 8 times (the average amount of rings before an answering service would be activated) then mark the voter as ‘not home’ and move on to the next voter.  

What is considered ‘refused’?

A ‘refused’ is any conversation where the voter does not answer the questions we are calling to engage them on. Whether they are polite about refusing (“Thank you, but I’d rather not answer.” “For me, my vote is a personal matter.” “Thank you for what you do, but I don’t discuss who I vote for with anyone.”) or impolite (“Don’t call me again!” “Take me off your list!” or just hangs up on you), if they do not answer the questions you are asking, then they are considered as refusing to answer. Please note: If they answer some, but not all of the questions you ask them, that is not a refusal. Mark the answers for the questions they do answer, and leave the questions they do not answer blank. 

What if I get the message “This call cannot be completed as dialed”? 

This often happens because the phone system for that particular area code may differ as to whether it requires you to use a 1 in front of the area code when dialing the number. Try this: 

  • If you did not dial the number with a 1 before the area code (area code + number), try again and add a 1 before the area code. 

  • If you did dial the number with a 1 before the area code (1 + area code + number), try again and do not add a 1 before the area code.

  • If you still have no success, mark the voter as ‘not home’ so that we can attempt to reach them at a later date. 

Can we send a text message or email to a voter if they request it?

Yes, we can send an email or a text to a voter (email is preferred) BUT

  1. The voter must explicitly say YES for the text or email to be sent.

  2. It must be sent by the phone banker who spoke with the voter. That means that the voter's info should not be shared in a chat log or with other volunteers. The best practice we use in this situation is that the phone banker should send the message to the voter as soon as they are finished speaking with them so that they do not forget and so the voter can perform the action as soon as possible. 

Whenever sending a follow up message to a voter, especially if by text, we want the message to be as short and to the point as possible. Friendly reminder that some voters still pay per text/minute. A great example would be: "Thanks for making the call to your senator today! Here is the number to call: _____. And if you'd like a script or talking points to use, here's a link: _____." 

Remember that has great resources and talking points for phone bankers and voters alike to use when calling their Members of Congress. 

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  1. Bobby Michaels

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