Committee Persons’ Handbook






The Basics…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2-4

What’s My Goal

Rights and Privileges


Time Commitment

Length of Term

Job Description

Step-by-Step to Becoming a Committee Member

State Committee From Erie County

What Should I Know………………………………………..……………………………………………………………….4-6

Know Your Precinct

Know Your Neighbors

Know Your Local Election Laws

Know the Issues

Know the Party Organization

What Should I Do First…………………………………………………………….……………………………………………7

Yearly “To Do” List………………………………………………………………………………………………………….…7-8


The Importance of Canvassing

How to Canvass

Canvassing Methods

Be Prepared When You Canvass

Tips For When You Canvass

Recruiting Fellow Republicans…………………………………………………………………………………………….……..11-12


Registered Voters

Campaign Season……………………………………………………………………………………………………………12-16

Nominating Petitions

Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV)

Pre-Election Calling

Election Day Workers

Election Day Calling



What’s My Goal?

Welcome to the true battleground of elections—the precinct. The precinct is the smallest political unit in the country, corresponding to one polling place. This is where you can have the most impact because it’s your backyard, your neighborhood. You know about the people, the schools, the businesses, the community centers. You know the strengths and opportunities in your area and want to make it a better place to live. And, as a Committee Member (CM), that’s your main goal— to win elections at the precinct level so that Republican values and ideals can be promoted at the local, state and national levels.

Rights and Privileges

  • Responsible for filling candidate vacancies upon the death of a candidate for the general election.
  • Participate in the endorsement process


  • Registered Republican.
  • Desire and energy to help achieve Republican victories and promote the Republican Party.

Time Commitment

This position involves a minimum time commitment of a couple hours a month, every month (slightly more during campaign season) and the ability to help on Election Day to help Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV).

Length of Term

Terms run from the Primary Election of an even year to the Primary Election two years later.

Job Description

  1. Familiarize yourself with your neighbors and your neighborhood using the provided precinct map or street sheets.
  2. Know your Republican and Independent neighbors:
    1. Host a house party to talk about politics and precinct issues.
    2. Canvass the precinct. Track and modify voter data on your lists (change of address or phone, candidate preferences, etc.) and help us update the voter database with new information. You can provide changes to the Executive Director of the ECRP.
    3. Register new Republican voters.
      1. When you are canvassing Republican households, make sure all eligible voters in the house are registered.
      2. Contact members of groups you belong to and register them to vote as Republicans.
      3. Canvass the non-party-affiliated voters in your neighborhood; encourage them to re-register as Republicans.
      4. Participate in Republican Party meetings, events and activities.
      5. Be a visibly proud Republican– display yard signs, window signs, campaign buttons, bumper stickers.
      6. Recruit new volunteers communicate with them regularly. More volunteers translates into more personal contact with the voters and more support for you and your candidates.

Campaign Season

As mentioned, campaign season brings about some additional activities, including:

  1. Getting your precinct’s volunteers updated on candidate information and getting them active.
  2. Circulating nomination petitions.
  3. Distributing Party and candidate literature through door-to-door canvassing.
  4. Helping identify where independent voters stand on Republican candidates.
  5. Holding house parties for Republican candidates.
  6. Helping to push the Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) effort in the final four days of the campaign using the Party’s plan.
  7. Identifying some Republicans within your precinct to serve as Poll Workers on Election Day.

Step-by-Step to Become a Committee Member

In even years, there is a short period of time in which someone may become a committee member. Here are the steps:

  • Complete the Affidavit for Nomination with the County Registrar
  • Collect the required number of valid signatures from registered Republicans in your precinct. Usually, this means at least 10 signatures, including your own. We encourage you to get more to secure your name on the ballot. You can also get at least 10 write-in signatures in your precinct on Election Day.
  • Then, your name will be placed on the Primary Election Ballot for your precinct unless the seat is uncontested.
  • The Chairman has the discretion to appoint committee members to vacant seats beginning a month after the _____

State Committee from Erie County

Three male and three female committee members are elected in the Primary of even years to serve two-year terms on State Committee. To be eligible for the ballot, you must collect at least 100 signatures.  The Erie County Party Chairman is also a member of State Committee bringing the total number of State Committee representatives from Erie County to seven.

The State Chairman and Pennsylvania’s two representatives on the Republican National Committee – who are elected by the State Committee members– serve on the Republican National Committee, which works closely with all fifty state parties on behalf of Republican candidates. It is headed by a National Chairman and plays a crucial role in electing Republicans across the country[1].


The first question most prospective or new Committee Members ask is “What should I know?” Most of the information will be provided to you or can easily be obtained. To begin, you should know the demographics of your precinct, your neighbors, the local election laws, current issues and how the party is organized.

Know Your Precinct

Know the boundaries, the number of houses and apartment complexes, the religious centers, schools and businesses. You’ll also want to know the economic and cultural makeup, number of union members, veterans, students of voting age, total Republican population, Independents, etc. You will obtain this information by canvassing your precinct and by checking the walking lists provided by ECRP.

Here are some tables of information we have provided to get you started.

Describing your voting area
Precinct name Precinct number
Congressional District State Legislative District
Supervisor District Ward (Tucson)
City Council District School Board Dist.


Boundaries and Other Information
Northern boundary Southern boundary
Eastern boundary Western boundary
Voter Registration
Registration Numbers by Party R:           D:           I:           Other: Registration % by PartyR:           D:           I:           Other:
Party performance in last election Total Registration


Know Your Neighbors

The ECRP will provide you with walking lists that will give you the names, addresses and party affiliation of the registered voters in your neighborhood. You’ll want to:

  • Get acquainted with the Republicans in your precinct. Meet them and their families and get to know their interests and concerns. Let them know you are a resource to them—provide them a method to contact you (phone or e-mail).
  • In households with at least one registered Republican, ask the other adults if they too would like to register as a Republican.
  • Know the young people who will turn 18 before Election Day and get them registered to vote.

NOTE: Our focus is not Democrats. We see them as a priority only after you know ALL the Republicans, ALL the Independents and ALL the Party-Not-Designated.

Know Your Local Election Laws

  • Know the deadlines for registering for the Primary and General Elections.
  • Be aware of the laws concerning poll workers and poll monitors.
  • Know the facts about state and city elections, school board elections and bond elections.

Don’t know this information? Don’t worry! You will learn these things just by attending the ECRP meetings every two months!

Know The Issues

Begin by simply reading the newspaper, you will learn about the major concerns affecting the city, county and the state. You should know the community’s issues and how people in your precinct feel about them. You can also log on to the ECRP’s Web site (, the State Committee’s Web site ( and the Republican National Committee Web site ( for additional information and to learn about important issues and Republican Party positions.

Get acquainted with the ECRP and State Officers as well as Republican elected officials. Keep up-to-date on Party activities. You will get information on events at Committee Member meetings or by logging on to our Web site. Additionally, you should know the levels of the Party


Know Your Party Organization

The Precinct

  • Precinct Committeeperson: the persons who coordinate parts of the precinct.
  • Block Captain: persons responsible for voters in several blocks.
  • Precinct Volunteer: people who can volunteer for Republican activities.

The County

  • You are in Erie County, which has five legislative districts. Contact information for the County is found at The party roles for the County are:
  • County Committee (all CMs in the County)
  • County Chair, a Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer
  • Executive Board (all District chairs and statutory County officers); Committee also includes a finance committee, PC/volunteer coordinator, voter registration coordinator, and assistants as needed.
  • Organizational and Election-related committees

The Legislative District

The district is a much larger political unit. The Legislative Districts are the basis for electing state legislators. To find your local legislator and other legislative information, go to: The party roles for the District are:

• District Committee (all CPs in the District)

• District Chair & Exec. Committee (2 Vice Chairs, Secretary and Treasurer)

• Organizational and Election-related committees

The State

The party roles for the State are:

  • State Committee
  • State Chair, 1st Vice-Chair, Senior Vice-Chair, 3 female Vice-Chairs, 3 male Vice-Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, Educational Coordinator, Affirmative Action Coordinator, and National Committee Members
  • Executive Committee
  • Organizational and Election-related committees

What Should I Do First?

At first, the job of Committee Member (CM) may seem slightly overwhelming, especially if your precinct has not been active in the past. However, by working with the ECRP and by following a systematic approach to the position, you will not only get the job done, you will get it done well!

Yearly “To Do” List

To get your started, we have put together a calendar of “to do” items. This will give you a general idea about what you should be spending your time on each month. Following the calendar are explanatory sections on many of the items. If you have questions on how to complete any of these tasks, feel free to contact the Erie County Republican Committee Executive Director or any member of the Executive Board.

January & February

  • Register Republican voters
  • Get to know the Republicans who will be running for office that year
  • Nominating Petition Drive



  • Nominating petition drive
  • Register Republican voters



  • Canvass
  • Assist candidates when appropriate
  • Register Republican voters



  • Canvass
  • State party
  • Phone calls before the primary
  • Register Republican voters


June, July & August

  • Work at county fairs
  • Help the candidates meet the voters
  • Distribute absentee ballots
  • Register Republican voters
  • Go Door-to-Door with Candidates



  • Register Republican voters
  • Recruit volunteers and put them to work
  • Recruit new candidates
  • Go Door-to-Door with Candidates



  • Re-canvass your district using the help of volunteers
  • Distribute absentee ballots
  • Recruit poll watchers
  • Review your list of voters
  • Recruit new candidates



  • Weekend blitz
  • Oversee your poll watchers
  • Make turnout calls
  • Thank your volunteers



  • Register Republican voters


…To solicit political support or to determine opinions or sentiments. To seek votes. A personal solicitation of votes or survey the public opinion. (Webster’s Dictionary)

The Importance of Canvassing

Canvassing efforts benefit outreach, education and fundraising. Information gathered through this method allows the Erie County Republican Party to build a real grassroots membership and funding base.  It also allows messages from legislative and issue campaigns reach the voters in your precinct. One of your most important priorities is to know who the Republican candidates are and to keep your neighbors informed about the candidates in each election. You can get this information – as well as the candidate’s own literature – either from the county GOP committee, the candidates or their Web sites. As your efforts mature, we will be able to develop strategies in petitioning, targeting, registration and other campaigns in your neighborhood.



How to Canvass

A canvass is walking door-to-door or calling and getting to know the people in your precinct. The ECRP will provide you with walking lists and precinct maps to assist your efforts.

“Service” is the key word to remember in neighborhood canvassing. The voters in your precinct will come to rely on you and the Republican Party for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Make sure you follow through on all requests for help. If you don’t know the answers to questions, say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you.” Here’s what you should do:

  • Meet as many voters as possible. Start a relationship.
  • Assure them that there are Republicans in the area who see eye-to-eye with them.
  • Learn about the issues that are important to them and discuss Republican values and ideals with them.
  • Register all eligible voters in the house.
  • GOTV : Get Out The Vote prior to elections.
  • Recruit volunteers.
  • Educate on issues and candidates.
  • You should not try to convince someone they are wrong and you are right. Instead present the facts and listen to their concerns.
  • Remind them that you are a Republican resource. Also let them know there are events, fundraisers and many ways for them to get involved and stay informed.

Canvassing Methods

There are several methods you can use to canvass your neighborhood. As you can see by your monthly “to do” list, contact with the voters in your neighborhood occurs long before Election Day. It is important to build relationships with the voters so you not only get to know their concerns but also, so you will feel more comfortable introducing candidates during Campaign Season and will have Republican volunteers to assist with Election Day activities.

Walking – personal visits

Face-to-face is the most effective way to meet people, exchange information, and make an impression for the Republican Party and candidates. The ECRP will provide you with a walking list that includes information for each household such as: registered voters, party affiliation and whether or not they have voted in the last four elections (including local elections). When you arrive, discuss the issues which are important to them. Your job is to get an idea of what those issues are by being observant. Here are some of the categories of items that may reveal issue-related information:

  • Bumper stickers or window decals
  • Religious items
  • Family: Small children may indicate child care, education, and the future of our economy may be important to them. An older couple may be concerned with health care.
  • Job: A person’s trade or profession may indicate certain values and focuses

Telephone calls

Your walking list also includes telephone numbers. Calling is also an effective way to break the ice. Some people prefer to begin with a phone call letting people know you will be in the neighborhood and may stop by to chat. A sample script is below:

Sample Calling Script

Hello is ______________ home? Hi, my name is ________________________ and I’m the Republican precinct committeeperson for the __________________ precinct. I live in/near your neighborhood.

(Option 1)

I am calling to let you know there are lots of Republicans in our district, and that our District Republican Party is holding a meeting on_____(date)____ at (Location and Time). I will be there and I want to encourage you to attend also.

(Option 2)

Local Republicans are meeting to organize for future campaigns. I was hoping you could tell me about some issues important to you and that need to be addressed.

Thanks for your time. Let me give you my phone number, in case I can answer any questions you may have in the future. It’s ________________. I hope to talk with you again soon. Goodbye.

House parties

House parties are a great way for Republicans in your precinct to get to know one another. You should invite local candidates so that your neighbors can meet them and so the candidates can get a better feel first-hand of issues that are important to their constituents (or future constituents). Your House Party doesn’t have to be fancy: cookies and punch or soda are fine.


This is an inexpensive but effective way to reach people. It should not be overused; none of us like spam, and during campaigns, some people come to dread looking in their inboxes. But used sensibly, e-mails will help introduce candidates to people you know (or have contacted) and carry the candidates’ messages.


Another great way to stay in touch with your precinct is through the development of your own personal newsletter. The newsletter can include upcoming events, issues that are of interest to your constituents, a discussion of pending legislation that may affect them and a profile of a local elected official. In your newsletter, you’ll always want to put a way that your neighbors can get in touch with you if they want to get involved or voice their concerns.

Be prepared when you canvass with:

  • Precinct map
  • Walking list
  • Pencils and pens
  • Informational literature (party or candidate)
  • Voter registration forms
  • Boundaries for elections
  • Republican button, T-shirt, sticker or other for identification
  • Something to carry your materials

Tips for when you canvass:

  • Work in pairs when possible
  • Be prepared with a script
  • Go before dark on weekdays and Saturdays

Recruiting Fellow Republicans

While you are canvassing, you will meet people who want to participate in the Republican Party. You need volunteers to be an effective committee person. A few good “assistants” can make your job principally one of coordinating the efforts of your volunteers. These volunteers can come from many places: faithful Republican primary voters, members of GOP auxiliary groups such as the Young Republicans or the Council of Republican Women, donors and supporters of past Republican candidates, civic activists, etc. The largest pool of potential volunteers consists of people who would be happy to help, but have simply never been asked to do so. All you can do is ask!

Keep them in mind for the following jobs and opportunities:

  • Precinct Committee Member / Block Captains (see details below)
  • Volunteers
  • Voter Registration volunteer
  • Donor

Have individuals fill out an Interest Card if they would like to do any of these activities. You should give all completed Interest Cards to the ECRP Chairman or Executive Director. Ideally, canvassing should also provide you with interested Republicans to assist your efforts in your area.


Volunteers can carry out any number of important tasks in your precinct: door-to-door canvassing, telephone calls before elections, preparing lists of unregistered voters by comparing the voter rolls to a list of households or looking up the phone numbers of voters in the district.

As you find volunteers, be sure to give them something to do. More volunteers are lost because of simple boredom than for any other reason. Often, you will be surprised by their energy and creativity.

After a project has been completed, you must do two things: you must have something new for that volunteer to do, and you must be sure that he or she knows that their efforts are appreciated.

Volunteers are important throughout the year-but Election Day is the most “volunteer-intensive” day of all because you must have three people working throughout the day: a volunteer outside the polling place, another inside marking off voters and a third making telephone calls. Since the polls are open for thirteen hours, there are thirty-nine “volunteer-hours” that you must fill, usually in shifts.

To accomplish this, you need an early start. The way to get that early start is to put your volunteers to work early in each year, making each citizen feel that they have a stake in the outcome of the election. The mission of a grass-roots political organization is to let voters know how important the political process is, and to bring it home to them. With good volunteers, you can do just that.

Neighborhood/Block Captains

One way your Republican neighbors can assist CMs is by becoming a Block Captain. These Captains are responsible for the two or three square block area surrounding their home. They should assist with voter registration when new people move into the neighborhood, with circulating petitions and by working on GOTV campaigns. If your precinct is large, comprised of many apartment buildings or in a rural area, these Block Captains will be critical to your success as a CM.

Registering Voters

As a Committee Member, one of your top priorities must be to register Republican voters. Voter registration in Pennsylvania is simple. A prospective voter must:

  • be eighteen years old by the day after the next election;
  • have lived in their election district 30 days by the time of the  election, and
  • be an American citizen.

A new voter must complete a form listing their name, address and other information, and mail it to their county courthouse. Forms can be obtained from county voter registration offices or online at

Voter registration closes thirty days before the Primary and General elections.

You can get a list of registered voters in your election district from your County Chairman or at your courthouse. As you canvass your district for new voters, you will be able to identify the houses or apartments where no one is registered to vote. You must be sure to knock on these doors.

As you seek to register new Republicans in your neighborhood, there are some groups to target:

  • families that have recently moved into the area;
  • new citizens;
  • families that have a son or daughter who recently turned eighteen.

Campaign Season

Nominating Petitions

Before candidates can run for any office, they must file nominating petitions with the Election Board.  The minimum number of signatures range from 10 for municipal office to 2,000 for some statewide candidates.

By gathering signatures on a candidate’s petition, you make it possible for that candidate to appear on the ballot and provide a personal link between that candidate and every voter you contact in this effort.

Once candidates have filed statements of candidacy, you may obtain signatures for them. Visit the neighbors you have been in contact with as a CM; keep petitions in your car for when you see people you know. Also, you may stand outside a library or other public place – with permission of the establishment – and solicit signatures. Candidates usually try to get about 50% more signatures than actually required by law to ensure they have the minimum number of valid signatures.

To sign a Republican candidate’s petition, a voter must:

  • Be a registered Republican living in the district in which that candidate is running.
  • They must live in the county listed on the petition form. In districts that include parts of more than one county, a separate form must be used for each county.
  • Republicans must sign their name and address as it is recorded at the Elections Bureau. They must also list their municipality, and the date on which they signed the petition
  • Petition signatures must be in chronological order; ditto marks cannot be used


When all the signatures have been gathered, you must complete and sign the “circulator’s affidavit,” and have it notarized. The circulator must be a registered voter in the district in which the candidate is running, and reside in the county in which the petition was circulated. Except in the case of offices for which a candidate can seek both party’s nomination (Common Pleas Court, district justice, and school board), the circulator must be a member of the same political party as the candidate.

It is very important that great care be taken with each step of the petition process. Every year, candidates are removed from the ballot because of careless errors with their petitions. Don’t let this happen to your candidates.

For all offices, there is a three-week period during which signatures can be collected. This period ends on the filing deadline, which is ten weeks before the primary election. Check with your county voter registration office for the exact dates or

Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV)

Your most important responsibility is to turn out the Republican vote on Election Day. Two or three weeks before each election, you should organize a door-to-door “blitz” in which literature for the Republican candidates is left in the door of every voter – Republican or Democrat – in your election district. Be sure that you have enough literature well ahead of time, so that you can add to your supply if needed. One of a CM’s most important jobs is to campaign on behalf of candidates. This is where the true grass roots efforts by CMs will make the greatest difference. For the most part, your role in a campaign will be led by the candidate or the candidate’s designee, whether that is a campaign manager or a volunteer coordinator, who will be following the candidate’s strategic field plan. The assistance you provide is critical to a candidate’s campaign.

As a CM, you can encourage more people to vote for our candidates by:


This is still the best way to help candidates: Talking face to face to people in your precinct and leaving the candidates’ literature. It is important for you to know basic information about candidates you’re walking for, but it is more important to let the candidates speak for themselves through their printed materials. If you are asked questions that are not covered in the literature, do not guess what the candidate’s answer is; write down the question, find the answer, and get back to the voter – or have the candidate do so if possible. Some candidates may only want literature distributed in certain areas. Enlist the help of others – use your Block Captains, volunteers or perhaps you know a student who needs community-service credit that can be fulfilled by leaving a candidate’s door hangers throughout your neighborhood.

Be a Billboard

Post your candidates’ signs in your yard, wear their buttons, add their bumper stickers to your car. Whatever you do increases candidate name recognition. Also, distribution of your candidates’ signs to their supporters throughout your neighborhood is important. Use your Block Captains and volunteers to assist you.



Pre-Election Calling

The voters in your election district depend on you for more than information about the candidates. You also need to remind them of the date of the election, the hours that the polls are open, and the location of the polling place.

The most effective way to do this is by calling each Republican household in your district the weekend before the election. You may be able to get a list of telephone numbers from your county chairman. If not, you should organize a group of volunteers in your area to help you look up the telephone numbers of the voters in the district.

A good script to follow is:

“Hello. This is John Doe, calling for the Abington Township Republican Committee.

I just want to remind you that Tuesday is Election Day, and that all our Republican candidates are counting on your support. The polls are open from seven in the morning until eight at night, and our district votes at ABC Elementary School.

Does anyone in your household need a ride to the polls?

Do you need any information about any of our candidates?

Thank you-I’ll see you on Tuesday.”


If a voter needs a ride to the polls, set a time when you or a volunteer can pick them up, and be sure to keep the appointment. And, of course, you should be ready to answer questions about any of the Republican candidates.

A personal phone call can make a big difference to a voter, because you and your volunteers bring the election home to a prospective voter in a way that no television commercial or newspaper story can.

Election Day Workers

Election Day is the most important day of the year for committee people – the day when everything has to come together. It is the day that you must put every volunteer to work, and focus your efforts on just one thing: maximizing the Republican vote in your precinct.

If you have planned in advance for “game day” and mobilized all your volunteers in the most effective way, Election Day should run smoothly. If not, it can be a disaster not only for you, but for the candidates who are counting on your help.

Two important jobs must be carried out at the polling place: a volunteer should greet each voter as they come to vote and offer them information on the Republican candidates. A second volunteer should keep track of each person who comes to vote.

This second volunteer is called a poll watcher, and is legally allowed to sit inside the polling place. He or she must be appointed by a candidate or (in a general election) by a political party. This is done by completing a poll watcher certificate, a form the candidate or party chairman obtains from the county courthouse. The poll watcher must be a registered voter in that County.

The poll watcher or “inside volunteer” should ask each voter his or her name as they come to vote, and mark them off on a master list of registered voters in your district. At regular times during the afternoon, this list must be picked up and taken to the volunteer who is calling those voters who have not yet come to the polls.

Obviously, none of this can occur unless you have an up-to-date list of registered voters with Telephone Numbers. You should get this list well before the election from your county chairman.

The outside poll workers need not be from the district, and require no formal appointment. They must remain ten feet away from the entrance to the polling place. Because many voters have not made up their minds-at least about every office-the last minute pitch that these outside poll workers make can have a real impact.

This can take many forms:

“Hello, I hope our Republican candidates can count on your support today.”

“Bob Smith needs your vote to be our state Senator.”

“Please consider the Republican team for Borough  Council when you vote.”

While not every voter will seem receptive, you really can make a difference by greeting each voter. In fact, some studies show that as many as one in five voters goes to the polls unsure of who he or she will support in at least one of the races on the ballot.

Election Day Calling

The County Party will organize Election Day Calling. As a committee person, getting volunteers to assist with this will be helpful.

About mid-afternoon on Election Day, volunteers collect a list of voters who have not yet gone to the polls.

Each voter who has not yet come to the polls should be called with a final reminder about the importance of that year’s election.

Sample Telephone Script:

“Hello. This is Jane Smith, your Republican committeewoman. I’m calling to remind you

that today is Election Day, and that the polls are open until eight o’clock. Our Republican

candidates need your support, and I hope to see you at the Fire Hall later on today.”


Remember…every vote counts. The last voter you reach could cast the vote that is the difference between victory and defeat.

This is absolutely critical to the success of the Republican team. Races for President have been decided by as little as one vote per precinct, and there are countless stories of candidates who won because of the extra effort they put forth in the last two hours that the polls were open.



[1] Republican National Committee Handbook

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