Is telling an option for you?
One of the most common mistakes on polling day is to try to cover every possible polling station with tellers all day – particularly when you’re short of helpers. Telling is a means to an end. The purpose of it on polling day is to get our voters to vote. If you’re not going to knock up your Shuttleworth twice on polling day then telling everywhere is wasteful.
Reduce the number of polling stations you’re going to cover (possibly to nil) and reassign all those who are able or willing to be redeployed.
It is usually more productive to phone, leaflet or knock up our supporters and accept and record when people say they have voted as you go round. Always consider with everything you do on polling day – “Will this put more Lib Dem votes in the ballot box.” If not, don’t do it.
Those who have a fairly big membership (over 0.25% of the electorate), and many members and activists will not knock or deliver after good mornings, so telling is an excellent way of filling those spots and people lending a hand. It is also an opportunity for friends who are not as ‘political’ to still help in some way.
Where to start
Thank those that have done it in the past – Always send out a letter and invite to the thank you party after every election. As part of this we always ask will people do it again in the future. This leaves you with a good list of people to approach.
Start your rota – Starting is so often the main issue for me on any project. Telephoning people who have helped in the past is by far the best way to get a commitment. Some people in January obviously do not know what they will be doing in May, but many are happy to get it in their diary now. I find some people don’t mind being there at 7am and this the easiest session to fill.
Ask others not already on your list – When you have already made a start with those who have helped in the past, start asking others. Think about:
- Members who might only be able to help on polling day
- Those who want to help but are physically unable to knock up
- Friends and relations you rope in just for the day
- Delivery and clerical helpers
Make sure in all communications with members – Let people know that you are in need of tellers and wider help on polling day. This is also important for postal vote polling day when you get the dates. Obviously many people will not know what telling is, so be clear and explain what is expected.
I advise people – Tellers stand or sit outside the polling station for an hour at a time (although I do two-hour slots to make things easier) and collect electoral registration numbers (poll numbers) of voters as they enter or leave. This helps us ensure we do not knock on their doors unnecessarily. We are running telling from 7am until 8pm. Do you think you could help?
Send confirmation letters – Along with a brief note now to say thank you and tell them when they have committed to help, make sure you communicate this again nearer the time. People will forget and drop out, but this is less likely if you send reminders.
It ultimately takes quite a bit of time to fill your rota, but there is no reason why you cannot make a start now.