This guide was put together by Lara Shaffer at the Open Voting Consortium with the help from many other election reform groups. It should be considered “open source”, meaning anyone modify it, copy it or distribute it. Thanks for being active! Please call OVC at 916 772-5360 or email, if you want to sponsor an event in your area.
The first thing to consider is what you want the overall program to look like. Many groups choose to break it down into “Problems” and “Solutions” with a networking intermission/break in the middle. You could also have the first half be a movie (or a collection of movie clips) and the second half be speakers. Events may also include several related topics. For examples of what multi-subject forums have been included, see posters from events OVC participated in 2005
You can decrease your work load, increase likely turnout and decrease expenses if you can work with other local election reform groups and have them join you as co-sponsors. Working with multiple organizations can present logistical challenges, so make sure that you have a check list and time line to define clear roles and responsibilities of each group. Sponsors should also set up tables in the back of the hall where presentations take place to give attendees opportunities to get active in their group and become part of our movement.
Pick a hall or meeting room that is appropriate for the number of people you think might come and has the capabilities to show movies or slide shows. Make sure that lighting can be controlled, if you are running movies or slide shows and your event is in the day. Many places will donate the space or offer it to you at a low rate if you tell them that it is a public education event to talk about the need for election reform. In addition to hall fees, there may also be insurance requirements, so check with whoever is renting you the hall to get all cost factors evaluated so that sponsors can pool resources to cover costs.
SET A DATE
The date has to work for your group, your speakers, and your target audience. You need at least a 60-90 day planning horizon to line up speakers, get a hall and take care of logistics (overhead projectors, screen, video player, etc.). An evening meeting for two or three hours may work in compact communities. Half day events on weekends may be more appropriate for urban areas because traffic is lighter then and people are often too frazzled to go back out for an evening meeting after fighting the evening commute.
Decide what speakers you want to come and what issues you want to cover (e.g. legislation, litigation, voting system solutions, etc). You can have several speakers or center your event on 1 or 2 speakers. Network with other local election reform groups and see if they know anyone that could speak. Contact your county registrar and see if they would like to speak. OVC is interested in working with you and will likely be able to send a speaker.
SET A DONATION PRICE
Most educational teach-in type events recommend a donation of $10-$20 and do not turn people away if they can’t pay. If you can get costs covered, you may get more attendance if the event is publicized as free. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a donation jar on the sign up desk asking for help in covering costs.
- Submit PSAs to print and electronic media like TV and radio stations (see example PSA_Oct1_HCDCC.doc) at least two weeks before event.
- Write Press Release (see example PRESS RELEASE_OCT1_Elec_Reform_fin.doc) that is simple clear and concise and mail and/or email to all newspapers and press outlets. Images of speakers often get your story better placement.
- Calls to press. Optimally, you want press coverage of your event and calling political beat reporters may get them motivated to attend.
- Call radio shows (during their call-in time) or coordinate with your local public radio station to see if there are shows where you might be a guest or local news where you could provide sound bites to promote or to report after the event.
- Make poster (see example clean_open_poster_10_1_05.jpg), have copied, and post in churches, community centers, bookshops, cafes, markets, etc.
- Shrink poster to flyer size (half or quarter page) and distribute at events
- Email poster and/or press release to political and cultural groups (email DFA, MoveOn, Latino groups, NAACP, unions, etc)
- Post on websites and website calendars (Democratic Underground, Daily Kos, United for Peace and Justice calendar, IndyMedia Calendar, Open Voting Consortium calendar, Verified Voting calendar, CalVoter calendar, etc)
- Go to meetups for Democracy for America (DFA) and other political groups/hand out flyers; get people to sign up on email list to remind them about event (look at meetup.com and newspaper listings to find events to go to.
- Personally invite officials and academics (mayor, election officials, other government officials, professors in Political Science and Computer Science)
- Contact newspapers and TV stations to try to get them to send reporters to the event
VOLUNTEERS TO HELP WITH CO-ORDINATING
- Put up posters
- Serve as liaison to speakers (invite speakers, find out what they will talk about, tell them how long and when they will speak, check in with them a few days before the event, etc)
- Call all volunteers scheduled to help in the two days leading up to event to make sure staffing is covered.
- Call local bakeries, markets, coffee roasters and get them to donate bagels/pastry, food, bottled water, juice/soda and coffee for the event or have organizations pick up cost and volunteers shop.
DVDs and SOUND EQUIPMENT
- Find a DVD that works with all of the DVDs you want to show. Not all DVDs play on all players! Get DVDs to show and test them on the DVD player that will be used at the event
- Find a projector and cords that will connect the DVD player to the projector to the sound equipment
- Figure out where the image will be projected and make sure it will be visible to all audience members (go to venue and check it out for video projecting capabilities)
- Make sure projector works with computer if going to do a power point presentation
- Figure out sound equipment (microphones, PA system, and sound for DVD player) well in advance of forum and do sound check first thing on set up of hall.
EVENT DAY VOLUNTEERS
- Bumper stickers/other event stuff seller
- Sign-in table Info table
- Food table Food pick up
- Set up
- Clean up
- Sound technician and DVD operator
- Time hand signaler (to tell speakers when to stop speaking)
- Sound recording person
- Person for video taping (Community Television). (It is more important to tape speakers than Power Point slides because they can be inserted as images into video).
- MC (should announce themselves as the moderator and go over the schedule for the event- have a visual of the schedule of the event too)
STUFF TO BRING TO EVENTS
- Table cloths and napkins for food
- Signs for tables (food, information, membership, action)
- Sign for door
- Sign for podium
- Sign up sheet where people can sign up to stay involved with your group or with the election reform movement (if your group is not focused on the election reform issue, get people to sign up to stay involved with the movement and give the list of names and contact info to an election reform group that will keep them involved- Open Voting Consortium, Verified Voting, Voters Unite, etc).
- Action page (give people something to take home with them that tells them further action they can take). Emily Levy created one for the Oakland Teach In. Contact her to get a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Election Reform movement brochure (brochure032605.pdf)
- Sign for event schedule (to post somewhere at the event)
- Cameras (video and picture)
- Extra batteries for cameras
- Anything you are selling at the event (stickers, buttons, etc)
- Extension cords (just in case)
Good Luck! Call OVC for support if you need it