STORY BY TOMOKI CHIEN, PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE VIA FLICKR
In just two weeks, California voters will decide whether Gov. Gavin Newsom keeps his job — and who replaces him, if not.
Here are some ways teens can get involved, as the Sept. 14 gubernatorial special election looms just around the corner.
RUNNING AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD
This one should satisfy even the introverts. Some campaigns have downloadable flyers on their websites, which you can print out and distribute to your neighbors — in theory, you can just drop these on door steps, with no need for any social interaction (gasp!).
Not all have flyer posted, though, so you might need to whip out some design skills and make your own flyers on user-friendly software like Canva.
Here are a couple campaign flyers:
- Larry Elder
- John Cox (enter your contact information)
- Kevin Paffrath (scroll until you hit “Be Part Of The Campaign!” and select “distribute signs and flyers”)
Alternatively, if you want to support Newsom and don’t want to have to make your own flyers, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party runs a “neighborhood captain” program, which entails the following:
- You register online.
- You’ll get sent a list of 100 of the most likely voters in your neighborhood. James Kim, executive director of the party, says that the most likely voters are determined by past records, and in some cases, they’ll be people who just recently reached eligible voting age.
- You go and put door hangers with voting information on those 100 of your neighbors’ doors.
Easy, right? The door hangers, provided by the county Democratic Party, include voting instructions and information to help voters through the deceptively tricky ballot.
“The problem with this election is it’s a special election,” Kim said. “Not everybody’s aware of it. So the idea’s to get people to come out to vote. That’s always the case in every election, but especially this one.”
In terms of dropping off those door hangers (this is where the introverts rejoice), Kim said that party policy actually dictates that neighborhood captains don’t knock on doors — it’s a COVID safety precaution.
Kim also recommends adding in a one-line handwritten note encouraging the neighbor to send in their ballot.
“It’s a note coming from one of your neighbors, telling another neighbor that there’s an election coming up,” he said. “What we ask is that you literally drop it in front of the door or hang it on the door. We don’t recommend that you knock on the door.”
You can register for the neighborhood captain program here.
Phone banking: People either “love it or hate it,” Kim said.
“If you love it, normally those are the folks who love to talk over the phone and communicate really well,” Kim said. “But not everybody’s built for that.”
Logistically, phone banking for the county Democratic Party means logging onto Zoom and running an automated call system on your computer from the comfort of your own home.
Here are some links to sign up to phone bank for other campaigns:
- Larry Elder
- John Cox (again, just put in your contact information)
- Kevin Paffrath (scroll until you hit “Be Part Of The Campaign!” and select “call and text our potential voters”)
At least for the county Democratic Party — although this is pretty standard protocol for all campaigns — you can phone bank for however long your schedule allows you to, and the calling usually occurs when people are home from work (after-school hours).
In terms of training, Kim said that volunteers are given instructions and a script, but ultimately, a lot of it comes down to “being yourself.”
“You have to be comfortable with yourself,” he said. “You don’t have to follow the script … but look at the script so you understand the meaning of what we’re calling about.”
For this special election, the phone calls are more about convincing people to get out and vote in the first place, and less about persuading them to vote one way or another, Kim said.
You can register to phone bank for Newsom here.
A side note: Beyond getting involved in just this election, Kim said he’s always looking for high schoolers to volunteer at the county Democratic Party’s headquarters, especially during school vacations. It sounds like teen volunteers can actually get pretty involved on the backend of party operations — you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GET OUT THERE
Ultimately, the goal of the neighborhood captain program, phone banking and any other structured program is the same — get people to vote.
In theory, standing at the corner of an intersection with a big sign reading something to the effect of “GO VOTE!” does that job, too.
But fine, maybe standing by your lonesome on the side of the street isn’t your thing.
The Raging Grannies — a group of older woman activists who seek to promote various causes through humor and to “shock with unladylike antics” — are hosting a “No on the recall!” rally at noon on Sept. 4 on the corner of El Camino and Castro in Mountain View.
Contact Granny Ruth Robertson (email@example.com), the leader of the “gaggle” of grannies for more information.
Sunday, Sept. 5: This article has been updated to include volunteer information for a wider range of campaigns.