You may recall that back in July, I attended a townhall for Raja, who is running for Allegheny County Executive. I came away impressed by what he said and convinced he was the right guy, and not just because there was free food involved.
Last evening, for the first time ever, I volunteered for a campaign (Raja's, in case you could not tell where this was going). I and three others from a local Republican group made phone calls for almost two and a half hours to people who were registered Republicans (at least they were at one point in time).
The whole operation seemed pretty slick. Let me explain how it works.
- Each call is automatically dialed simply by your pressing the "next call" button.
- You have a "script" you can read from, modifying what you say as needed.
- If someone answers the phone, you identify yourself and say you are a volunteer for the Raja for County Executive campaign. (Most of the time I would ask to speak to the person whose name comes up on the phone screen.)
- Next, you ask that person if he is planning to vote in the November 8 election.
- Based on the response, you press the "yes," "no," or "maybe" button. A response of "yes" or "maybe" means that person will get a follow-up call closer to election time to remind him that his vote for Raja is needed.
- If the person is still on the line and has not said no, you can say something like, "That's great," and then ask for his support for Raja.
- You can say things like, "Raja has brought hundreds of jobs into the county" or "Raja is not a career politician. (Sometimes I would refer the person to Raja's website, particularly if that person did not know much about Raja.)
- If the person seems enthusiastic, you can ask if he would be willing to volunteer. Either way, a screen on the phone comes up asking, "Do you wish to volunteer," and you must select the "yes" or "no" button. A response of yes may trigger a follow-up call; you should take the person's info regardless.
- No matter what the person says, you should always thank him for his time.
- If no one answers and the phone goes to voicemail, you can press the "voicemail" button, and a pre-recorded message is automatically left.
- If there is no voicemail or if the line is busy, you push the "not home" button or the "busy" button, respectively, and that person will be called again later.
- If the number turns out to be invalid, you press the "wrong number" button, and that number is removed from the phone bank.
- If the person hangs up as soon as you identify yourself, you push a button (not sure the name of it), and that person will not be called again.
- When you are finished with a call, you hit the "next call" button, the phone dials, and you start all over again.
I found the experience to be pretty interesting. Here are some memorable calls:
One person said that even though her son did not live there any longer (his name was on the list/he was the one I was calling), she assured me that Raja had her vote.
One woman who was handed the phone from her husband told me she did not have her hearing aid in, so I would need to call back later.
Another person told me she did not live in the city, so she could not vote for Raja; fortunately, I set her straight.
One guy quoted some misinformation from Raja's opponent's ad, and I, in turn, explained the facts. The guy then went on to talk about Raja's religion, which I find irrelevant (I realize some don't).
Twice when I asked for someone, and I was subsequently asked who was calling, after I said I was with the Raja campaign, I was put on hold and then hung up on. I had more respect for the people who right away said they were not interested and just hung up.
It is something I would definitely do again. And, about that title? Yes, we got pizza.