You can reach more voters faster by phone-banking than any other method. And unlike door-knocking, there's no chance of weather waylaying progress. But talking to someone on the phone is virtually never as effective as in person.

Phone-banks are critical in precincts that can’t be effectively walked (if, for example, they have too many apartment buildings). The captains of these precincts should be experienced phone-bankers who are prepared to run many regular phone-banks.

Phone-banks are a very good way to use volunteers who can make only an occasional commitment, perhaps one evening a week or every two weeks. (People who can make a more regular commitment to the campaign should be recruited to become precinct captains or phone-bank coordinators.)

Phone-bank Coordinators

Phone-bank coordinator is an invaluable role that dedicated volunteers can play in an integrated voter engagement project.

The Mechanics of Phone-banks

You don’t need large numbers of people to start a phone-bank. What you do need is:

Finding phones: Many institutions that your community group has relationships with (or could have relationships with) can and will donate space for phoning if asked. A phone-banking space should have at least six lines (lines, not telephones), and preferably more. The perfect setup is a place that lets your campaign use their lines four or five nights a week and Sunday afternoons until the election. Failing perfection, it’s sometimes possible to get Tuesdays in one place and Thursdays in another, etc. To make it easier on volunteers and precinct captains, try for as much regularity as possible.

Good sources of phone lines include:

When you’re on the hunt for phones, remember that you will want to use every cluster of five phones lines you can find over the final, get-out-the-vote weekend, Monday and Election Day. If an office turns you down for immediate use, ask if the lines will be available at crunch time.

When to phone-bank: At all times, the majority of calls will not be answered, will reach answering machines, or will be wrong numbers, but you’ll reach the most people at these hours:

Forms, FAQ’s and Tally Sheets

And once you've got them on the line...

In addition to voter ID work, phone-bank volunteers should ask voters if they’d like:

Campaign organizers should provide phone-bank coordinators with a supply of signs (and remit envelopes) already in envelopes, as well as basic informational leaflets and envelopes that can be sent to those who are interested. At the end of the scheduled phone-bank time, phone-bank coordinators should have volunteers address the appropriate envelopes.


Click here to download a PDF of a sample phone-bank tally sheet.

Download an example of a phone-bank tally sheeet. (PDF – 25 KB)

Click here to download a PDF of a sample phone-bank training cheat-sheet.

Download a sample phone-bank training “cheat sheet.” (PDF – 35 KB)