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Grassroots groups canvas to register voters and fight voter suppression.
“The GOP’s 2022 Strategy: Voter Suppression or Bust. After failing to suppress enough Black votes to steal the 2020 election, Republicans are preparing for a heist the next time around.” – The Nation
Fighting voter suppression requires helping eligible voter be prepared to cast their ballot in the face of stringent new Jim Crow style laws. Grassroots groups play a vital role in helping people in their community with voting related issues, but they face a logistical challenge.
How can grassroots groups with little money and staffing reach more voters in less time? How can they contact people who may not even be in the voter file? How can volunteers canvas better with real-time maps and upload their survey results immediately? How can all this be done by a grassroots group with few technical skills?
Use free, easy-to-use software. This blog explains how to create your own canvassing app for free with Google Sheets and Glide Apps software. There’s also a free online tutorial and a link to get pro bono help to create your own app for voter registration canvassing campaigns.
Free canvassing app
Most canvassing apps rely on the voter file for details on who to canvas and where to save the results of surveys. Some grassroots groups cannot afford access to the voter file or may want to contact people in their community who may be unregistered voters. Grassroots groups often rely on volunteers who need a simple canvassing solution.
Highlights of this free canvassing app
Any list of contacts can be used for canvassing
A range of information on the people to be canvassed can be stored and collected
The app can be used on both phones, tablet computers and laptops without installing any software
Locations of all the people to be contacted are mapped automatically
All the information collected by canvassers stays with the grassroots group but can also be shared
Several volunteers can canvas at the same time and all their submissions are immediately updated
People who have been contacted are tagged so they are not contacted again by accident
Test drive canvassing app
Take this free canvassing app for a test drive.
1. Open the app by clicking on this link
2. Click on the CONTACTS tab at the bottom to see the list of people to be contacted.
3. You can search by name, address or any other field about that person.
4. Add your notes about the meeting with a person in the NOTES field.
5. Click on the MAP tab to see all the addresses to be canvassed
6. Click on the CANVAS tab to see all the addresses left to be contacted
7. This app is configured to only show records of people who have not been contacted in the CANVAS tab
8. All the results that have been collected by the canvassers can be seen in this Google Sheet
Create your own canvassing app
Create your own canvassing app with free software.
1. Enter or import the list of people to be canvassed into your own Google Sheet.
2. Configure your Glide App to read that Google Sheet and create an app for your canvassers.
3. Share a link to the canvassing app with your volunteers.
4. They can use the app on their phone or laptop without installing any software.
5. They canvas people on their list and enter their comments from each meeting.
6. Results of their canvassing are automatically uploaded to the database.
7. People who have been contacted disappear from the active list to prevent people from being contacted twice.
Create list of people to canvas
Create your Google Sheet like the one below with one row per person to be contacted and a column for each piece of information about them. Use GeoCod.io to find the latitude and longitude for address and paste it into the spreadsheet. Geocod.io offers a free service which can handle a list of addresses at the same time. Add a column where canvassers add their comments about their meetings.
Design and share your app
This canvassing app obtains details on the people to be canvassed from this Google Sheet. All the addresses are automatically mapped for the canvassers.
The app is shared with volunteers using a link like https://grassroots-canvasser.glideapp.io/
Volunteers can use the canvassing app on a phone, tablet or laptop computer – without having to install any software.
Canvassers can either use the map to find the people to contact or search from them on a list. They can click on a record to see the details and then add their notes to that record. The results are updated in the database and that location is shown on the map as having been contacted so another canvasser does not contact them again by accident.
TakeAway: Use tech enabled volunteers to fight voter suppression. Create your own canvassing system for free with Glide Apps and Google Sheets. Get pro bono help here to configure your voter registration canvassing app.
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