Canvassing Rural Areas

by Ben Holse (He/Him)


Canvassing Rural Areas: Door to Door Is Not the Same Everywhere

Canvassing rural areas present a unique set of challenges. While you want to canvass as many homes in these areas as you can, as grassroots canvassing is the most effective method of volunteer voter contact, you also want to do so in a way that makes sense for both you and your canvassers. Below are a couple of suggestions for overcoming the challenges of rural canvassing:

1) Open up your specs as wide as you can when pulling a list for sparsely populated areas in order to create the densest turfs possible.

2) Be cognizant of where sidewalks are when cutting turf. While it will not always be possible, you should try to avoid making canvassers walk on the roads.

3) Pick out your apartment complexes and dense population centers. Put these packets aside for your older canvassers and save the really sparsely populated packets for the younger, fitter canvassers.

4) When you make canvass packets, take a look at which groupings of houses canvassers will have to drive to and include this information in the packet. If you don’t instruct canvassers that they need to drive to certain blocks of houses, they will likely assume that they have to walk and waste valuable time.

5) Include phone numbers for each household in your canvass packs and ask the canvassers to call any houses that they are unable to reach on foot. While calling is a bit less effective, voter contact is still voter contact.

6) Prepare your canvassers upfront about the turf and instruct them to bring good shoes and plenty of water. You should also try to have bottles of water available for canvassers at the staging location, particularly for when they turn in their packets.

7) Inevitably your overall voter contact rate will be lower when canvassing rural areas. Take this into account in regards to fulfilling voter contact goals and plan your phone banks accordingly.

8) When cutting turf in sparsely populated areas, assume that there will be some households that will not fit into any turf and incorporate them into a phone list. It’s really not worth it for a canvasser to drive 10 minutes out of their way just to hit one door.

9) When canvassing rural areas, it’s important to get to the doors when people are apt to be home, as the households in these areas are less likely to be canvassed a second time. Be cognizant of major sporting events, times when people are likely to be at church, or community activities and avoid scheduling your canvasses during those times.

10) In general, people who live in a rural area are less likely to expect a random visitor, so be sure to exercise caution. Similarly, people in the rural areas are more prone to let their dogs run free, so be cognizant when approaching the door.

Need tips for canvassing rural areas?  Drop us a note.