Volunteering for the Obama Campaign in Washington DC

Posted in Politics by Arasmus on October 23, 2008

I am writing this quick note to let people know what its like to volunteer for the Obama campaign in Washington DC based on my experience today.

Two key takeaways: (1) there is no minimum time commitment, you can do 5 minutes, 25 minutes, an hour, 5 hours, etc., (2) there is a 60 second learning curve. When I was thinking about volunteering I thought it was going to be such a pain, paperwork and nonsense and sitting around thumb-twiddling and just the usual lack of co-ordination that is invariably found in volunteer temporary organizations. Not a bit of it. 100% of my time was spent “on task.” So I strongly encourage you, if you want to help, to do so. Its very easy.

What actually happens? You go in and sign up with your contact details. You are given a list of people to call and then you sit around a large table and go through the list, updating it as you go as to whether someone is at home, available to canvas, phone-bank or if you have found a wrong-number or someone who would rather not be contacted. These sheets are then taken from you and the database is updated. Bring your own cellphone (they have some phones if you need to use theirs), charger if you plan to stay a while, and avoid eating the candy!

My discussions with people covered the following 3 areas:

  1. Local Events – letting people know about events in their neighborhood (for example Mayor Fenty and Delegate Eleanor Norton are going to speak at a rally this Saturday, October 25 at 1pm at the DNC Headquarters Parking Lot at 430 South Capitol Street SE, – nearest subway stop is Capitol South Metro on either the blue or the orange line)
  2. Determining their willingness to canvas – If you are in the Washington DC metro area (Maryland & Virginia) and would like to do some canvassing either this weekend or next weekend then there are opportunities on October 25 (at 1pm, after the rally), October 26 (2-4pm) November 1 (2-4pm) and November 2 (2-4pm). Assembly is at the DNC Headquarters Parking Lot. During the week they are looking for people to canvas in the evenings (after 5pm) in Virginia.  If you are interested call the Canvas Confirmation Hotline at 202-579-2584.
  3. Determining their willingness to do phonebanking – i.e. to call other people. To phonebank, on weekdays, go to the Obama Headquarters at 803 Florida Avenue, NW in Washington DC between 10am-9pm. The priority is 5pm-9pm because obviously that’s when people are not at work.  The telephone number for the U Street headquarters is (202)-265-0059. The U Street Metro stop (on either the Green or Yellow line) is just two blocks away and their is also a parking lot just two blocks away.  This Saturday and Sunday (October 25th and 26th) they will be doing phonebanking at the Warehouse Theatre at 1021 7th Street, NW, Washington DC from 10am-7pm

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