PILA Toolkit

From Mobilize the Immigrant Vote

Jump to: navigation, search

Mobilize the Immigrant Vote Toolkit for Movement Building Electoral Organizing

The PILA MIV toolkit is currently out of print, but the following are key sections that can help support immigrant organizations in planning and implementing electoral strategies. This Toolkit was compiled from materials developed and adapted by Partnership for Immigrant Leadership and Action (PILA). Moreover, the overall approach comes to us from Californians for Justice and the Western States Center.

We are committed to sharing our work without copyright restrictions that are too burdensome. We encourage users of this Toolkit to reproduce, adapt and share the enclosed material but we ask that you do so according to the guidelines set out by the Creative Commons Deed; Attribute (you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor), Noncommercial (for noncommercial use only), Share Alike (any alterations, transformations, or if you build on this work you can distribute under license identical to this one). For more specific language on the license behind this deed, please go to Creative Commons.

If you have any further questions about re-using or reproducing material in the Toolkit, please contact MIV directly.

To download the toolkit by section in pdf format please click the following download links:

Below are the toolkit sections and tool attachments in downloadable Word format documents: (Please note that we are in the process of uploading files slowly over the next few weeks -- NOT ALL FILES ARE AVAILABLE YET)


A fundamental goal of movement-building electoral organizing is that it is part of a long-term strategy for strengthening your organization and your community. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to doing such work. Therefore, to engage in electoral work in a way that is truly strategic for your organization, developing a plan particular to the capacity and needs of your organization is critical. The plan doesn’t need to be elaborate (though, for some organizations, that may be appropriate), but it does need to be thoughtful and grounded in some reflection bout your own organization’s mission and long-term goals. By initially investing the time to craft an intentional plan for your organization’s electoral organizing activities, you may both save your organization from over-extending itself during election season, as well as maximize the long-term benefit of the work you choose to do.

This section provides a variety of tools to support your organization’s overall planning process. Because we have found that concrete examples often help make abstract concepts more understandable and relevant, you will find that we have provided throughout this section sample plans that provide an outline of specific activities that an organization might choose to do. Please remember that what is outlined is often a range of activities that could go into a full campaign plan. Not all organizations will have the capacity to take on such a full range of activities. We encourage your organizations to selectively choose and create activities that will increase voter participation in your community, but more importantly, that will support your long-term goals.

Tools in this section include:

Approaches to Electoral Campaigns: A Comparison 1.1 Approaches to Electoral Organizing (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This chart clarifies the long-term goals of the movement-building approach to elections by comparing specific elements to a more traditional approach to elections.

Guidelines for Non-Profits Engaging in Electoral Work 1.2 Guidelines for NonProfits (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This is a set of guidelines to help 501(c)3 organizations begin to clarify some of the legal and other limitations on electoral organizing that you will need to consider as you are developing your plan.

Overview of Movement-Building Strategies 1.3 Overview of Movement Building Strategies (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This overview outlines and generally describes various movement-building electoral strategies. In addition, this overview provides some suggestions as to when during election season is best to plan on doing such activities.

How Movement Building Electoral Strategies Get Out the Vote AND Benefit Your Organization 1.4 How Movement Building Electoral Strategies Get Out the Vote AND Benefit Your Organization (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version - Not Available)

Even though movement-building electoral organizing prioritizes long-term goals that strengthen and build your organizations and communities, that doesn’t mean the activities don’t also increase electoral participation in the short-term! In fact, all the strategies we describe in the overview can do both. This chart illustrates how.

Campaign Planning Worksheet 1.5 Campaign Planning Worksheet (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

We developed this worksheet for participants in the MIV 2004 California Campaign. We recommend that organizations that have few resources to dedicate to a more developed electoral campaign use this worksheet as a guide to both brainstorm and develop your plan for election season. This one worksheet contains key general questions to consider while you are planning, as well as specific examples of activities and measurable outcomes.

Setting Goals for Your Organization’s Campaign Work 1.6 Setting Goals (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version - Not Available)

For participants of more intensive, long-term MIV capacity building programs, we created a series of tools to assist participants in developing a more elaborate electoral workplan. This worksheet can be used to guide your staff and core leaders through a key first step of developing a full campaign: collectively brainstorming the various electoral, leadership development and organizational goals your organization would like to realistically reach during your electoral campaign.

Sample Detailed Workplan 1.7 Sample Detailed Workplan (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This provides an example of what a detailed, more extensive electoral workplan might look like.

Workplan Worksheet 1.8 Workplan Worksheet (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

Modeled on the above sample plan, this provides a worksheet staff and community leaders of your electoral campaign can use to develop a detailed plan for your organization. Note that it is less important that the goals, activities, outcomes, etc. are articulated in a uniform or standard way…and more important that the plan provides a common language and set of expectations that all key leaders with the responsibility of implementing the plan can understand and are invested in.

Volunteer Planning Worksheet 1.9 Volunteer Planning Worksheet (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

No matter what the scope of your electoral activities, they will all almost certainly depend on having volunteers to implement them. This worksheet is a guide to help you plan for your volunteer needs.

Volunteer Recruitment & Retention Tips 1.10 Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Tips (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

Again, volunteers will be a key component of almost ANY set of electoral activities your organization chooses to take on. This tool provides a ton of advice on recruiting, training and supporting them.

Leadership Development Audit Worksheet 1.11 Leadership Development Audit Sheet (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

If your organization is planning to focus on leadership development during election season, this worksheet “audit” can help you identify the strengths of your current leaders, how to support their ongoing development, and the organizational challenges that need to be addressed or at least taken into consideration in order to further your leadership development goals.

Tips for Documenting Your Campaign

1.12 Tips for Documenting Your Campaign (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version - Not Available)

Part of planning what and how you will do the basic elements of your electoral organizing will be considering how you will document all that you do. Documentation should not be a chore you do for its own sake. Like the planning process, the documentation process should itself be used to further your short-term and long-term goals. This tool is intended to guide you through understanding the potential role of documentation in your electoral work plan.

Multiple Contact Log for Registered Voters 1.13 Multiple Contact Log for Registered Voters (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version - Not Available)

Follow-up with your contacts throughout the campaign is key to ensuring voters turn out at the polls on Election Day. This sheet is ONE example of how an organization might consider centralizing contact information and tracking multiple contacts they have with individual voters. Maintaining good records of the voters you contact is also crucial if you plan to “match” the list of the voters you contacted with the county’s voter rolls after the election to measure the turnout rate.

Activity Summary Tracking Sheet 1.14 Activity Summary Tracking Sheet (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This is an example of one way to track the kinds and numbers of activities you do, and the impact of each of them.

Reflecting on and Evaluating Your Campaign 1.15 Reflecting on and Evaluating Your Campaign (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version - Not Available)

This tool provides a series of questions to guide your organization in reflecting on and evaluating your electoral work and its impact.

Planning Tips & Lessons

1.16 Planning Tip and Lessons (Spanish Version - Not Available) | (Chinese Version - Not Available)

Compiled from direct experience of CBO partners, this one pager will summarize lessons you can carry forward when planning your own electoral activities.

2. VOTER REGISTRATION Voter registration is a key activity in any electoral campaign, expanding the potential pool of voters who can make their voices heard on Election Day. For every ten immigrants who are eligible to vote, approximately six have registered.[1] That means about 40% of eligible immigrant voters still need to register! Once they are registered, research shows new citizens are more likely to show up at the ballot box than native-born citizens who are registered to vote.[2] So, concerted registration outreach efforts can make a big difference in bringing new voters from our communities into the electoral process.

Anxiety about an unfamiliar political process and lack of language-accessible materials and education may deter many new potential voters from immigrant communities. Community organizations have a vital role to play in breaking down these barriers – outreach and assistance from a trusted source can make the difference between someone deciding to register or not! For all these reasons, we strongly encourage you to include some level of registration activities in your electoral work.

Registration can happen anytime, but focused voter registration efforts are more effective leading up to a specific election, and generally take place in the two months prior to the registration deadline, which in California is 15 days prior to Election Day. In the movement-building electoral context, registration activities are also a key way your organization can begin to raise visibility within your community about your electoral activities and your ongoing work. While registering voters, you can share information about your organization, recruit volunteers, and build your list of new voters to follow up with for voter education and GOTV activities closer to the Election. The tools in this section will help you plan your registration activities, educate your staff and volunteers about the voter registration process, and provide concrete suggestions for how to connect your registration activities to your voter education and mobilization efforts, and to your ongoing work.

Tools in this section include:

Voter Registration Basics 2.1 Voter Registration Basics (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This overview sheet provides key information on registration eligibility and guidelines on registering voters. In addition, it walks you through the voter registration form step-by- step to ensure you understand how to fill the form out correctly. Use this to educate your staff and campaign team and/or as a handout to train your volunteers.

Sample Voter Registration Card from Secretary of State Secretary of State

Every county’s voter registration card may look a little different, but they all request the same basic information. The instructions provided in the Voter Registration Basics sheet refer to this sample card from the CA Secretary of State.

Sample Statement of Distribution Find your county Registrar of Voters

If your organization plans to register more than 50 voters, you must fill out and turn in a Statement of Distribution at your county’s Registrar of Voters. Again, each county’s form may look a little different, but they request the same information as this sample from the CA Secretary of State.

Sample Voter Registration Volunteer Training Agenda 2.4 Sample Voter Registration Volunteer Training Agenda (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version - Not Available)

Ensuring all your volunteers, community leaders, and staff understand the voter registration process is key. This tool is for staff or key campaign leaders to refer to as you plan a training activity to prepare volunteers for registration activities.

Voter Registration Pitch Worksheet

2.5 Voter Registration Pitch Worksheet (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

To use registration activities in support of our organization’s ongoing goals, it is crucial to develop a strong message, or “pitch” to use in your outreach. Why should people register? Why does their vote matter? How can they connect to your organization’s ongoing work? This worksheet provides a sample pitch and can be used to develop and practice your own’ organization’s pitch with key staff and volunteers.

Perfecting Your Voter Registration Pitch

2.6 Perfecting Your Voter Registration Pitch (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This sheet has concrete tips for your staff and volunteers to make the strongest voter registration pitch possible.

Voter Registration Planning Checklist

2.7 Voter Registration Planning Checklist (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This tool contains a list of reminders for your campaign team in planning effective voter registration activities.

Voter Registration Tips & Lessons

2.8 Voter Registration Tips & Lessons (Spanish Version - Not Available) | (Chinese Version - Not Available)

Compiled from direct experience of CBO partners, this piece will give you concrete examples of successful voter registration strategies. Review this for ideas to maximize the overall effectiveness of your registration activities.

[1] Paral, Rob. 2004. Power and Potential: The Growing Electoral Clout of New Citizens. The Immigration Law Forum. http://www.ailf.org/ipc/ipf102004.asp

[2] Paral, p.3.


In a movement-building approach, community education, at some level, is a necessary part of the work. It key to provide reliable, easy to understand information on the voting process and issues on the ballot in languages spoken by our communities yields more informed, confident voters who can share the information with others. Creating space where community members can discuss the relevance and impact of electoral issues also gives people an analysis experience that builds their skills to make informed voting decisions in the future. Finally, voter education activities are a great opportunity to deepen your relationships with community members and connect them to your ongoing work.

Voter and political education can cover several areas: Voting mechanics and Rights, Political Education, and Issue Analysis. This section offers tools that will support you in all three of the above areas of education. In addition, the section starts with tools to help you plan your education activities, generally.

Tools in this section include:

Voter Education Basics

3.1 Voter Education Basics (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This chart outlines various voter education topics to cover in your voter education activities, and lists suggested resources in this Toolkit and elsewhere, to help you prepare.

Voter Education Activity Planning Checklist

3.2 Voter Education Activity Planning Checklist (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

There are a lot of components to juggle when planning a voter education activity. This tool lists out many of these different components with explanations of what to consider with each one.

Voter Education Sample Voter Education Forum Agenda

3.3 Voter Education Sample Voter Education Forum Agenda (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version) There are many, many ways to develop an agenda for a community voter education form. This is an example of one agenda scenario.

Voter Education Form - Agenda Worksheet

3.4 Voter Education Form - Agenda Worksheet (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This worksheet can be used to plan your own educational forum agenda.

Voters' Rights Handout

3.5 Voters' Rights Handout (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This is a handout you can distribute during your community education activities that outlines the rights that voters have when they go to vote.

Voting Quiz Handout

3.6 Voting Quiz Handout (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

Organized with questions on one side and answers on the other, this is a voting quiz that can be the outline for a voter education game, then used as a handout that participants can take home.

Who Votes in California?

This exercise, in two variations, interactively illustrates the disparity between who votes in California and who lives in California, with questions to guide discussion on the impact of that disparity…and how it can be changed!

3.7 Variation 1 Overview 3.8 Variation 1 Facilitator Instructions

3.9 Variation 2 Overview

3.10 Variation 2 Facilitator Instructions

Handout - 3.11 Handout (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

Adapting Who Votes for Other Regions - 3.12 Adapting Who Votes for Other Regions

U.S. Voting Rights Timeline

This exercise provides several useful tools and ideas to engage community members in a consideration of the interconnection between voting rights and other social justice struggles and to reflect on lessons for current electoral work. Along the way, there are lots of interesting facts to learn about the history of immigrant rights, voting rights and the histories of particular communities.

3.13 Voting Rights Timeline Overview

3.14 Facilitator Background and Preparation

3.15 Facilitator Instructions

3.16 Participant and Facilitator Timeline Cards - English, Spanish and Chinese

3.17 Sample Script for Facilitators

Extended Timeline Handout -

3.18 Extended Timeline Handout (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

Issue Analysis Exercise

Through consideration and discussion of any one of three scenarios, this exercise helps groups analyze the root causes of problems low-income immigrant communities face daily and builds analytic skills, generally.

3.19 Overview

3.20 Facilitator Background and Preparation

3.21 Facilitator Instructions

Health Care Scenario - 3.22 Healthcare Scenario (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

Housing Scenario - 3.23 Housing Scenario (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

Immigration Scenario - 3.24 Immigration Scenario (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

Ballot Analysis Exercise

This exercise suggests various ways to engage in analysis of the potential impact of ballot initiatives on immigrant communities.

3.25 Overview

3.26 Facilitator Background and Preparation

3.27 Sample Agendas

3.28 Sample Backgrounder 1, Prop 72

3.29 Sample Backgrounder 2, SF Prop F

Connecting Ballot Analysis to Action

3.30 Connecting Ballot Analysis to Action

This tool describes possible means for making the connection between analysis of specific ballot initiatives to root cause analysis….and engagement in ongoing, non-electoral activities.

Voter and Political Education Tips and Lessons 3.31 Voter and Political Education Tips and Lessons

This provides a compiled list of tips and lessons learned from the direct experience of PILA CBO partners.


The final four days before an election are the last push. To ensure potential voters show up at the polls on Election Day, they need to be reminded! Get out the vote (GOTV) activities are a proven cornerstone in effective elections campaigns, and are especially critical when mobilizing first-time or infrequent voters. Long held by experienced organizers as a core strategy, one-on-one contact through phone calls or an in person visit is considered the most effective form of outreach. Research on electoral mobilization shows that one-on-one contact from a trusted source, especially from peers who share a common language, makes this kind of outreach even more effective, and can substantially increase voter turnout![1]Again, immigrant-serving CBOs and their volunteers are ideally positioned to increase voter participation in their communities through this kind of mobilization. But remember, in a movement-building electoral campaign, GOTV contacts are not just about getting people to the polls or moving voters to support specific issues. They also provide an opportunity to continue to raise visibility for your organization and build an ongoing relationship with each contact for future organizing.

Voter mobilization or GOTV activities generally take place on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday right before the election, and often continue through Election Day itself. The key GOTV activities we cover in this section are one-on-one contact through phone-banking and door-knocking. The tools we share here should help you plan your GOTV activities, develop your message, and train your volunteers.

Tools in this section include:

Planning a Phone Banking Night

4.1 Planning a Phone Banking Night (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This overview sheet provides reminders and ideas setting up a successful phone-banking activity.

Planning a Door-to-Door Activity

4.2 Planning a Door-to-Door Activity (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

Though many preparation steps for door-to-door GOTV activities are the same as for phone-banking, there are some key differences. This sheet is for your planning team to refer to when organizing your door-knocking activities.

Final 4 Days GOTV Planning Worksheet

4.3 GOTV Planning Worksheet (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

This worksheet provides a sample checklist of materials and preparation required for a variety of GOTV activities. Use this with your planning team to determine what activities you will focus on, and to review the resources you’ll need to do it.

Sample Phone-Banking Volunteer Training & Debrief Agendas

4.4 Sample Phone-Banking Volunteer Training and Debrief Agendas (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version - Not Available)

Preparation and practice is key to ensuring your staff and volunteers make the most of GOTV contacts. This tool is for staff or key campaign leaders to refer to as you plan a training to prepare volunteers for a phone-banking activity. You can refer to this sample also when planning a door knocking training. Many of the same key elements apply.

GOTV Pitch Worksheet

4.5 GOTV Pitch Worksheet (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

To use mobilization activities in support of your organization’s ongoing goals, it is crucial to develop a strong message, or “pitch” to use in your outreach. Why should people vote on Election Day? How can they connect to your organization’s ongoing work? This worksheet provides a sample pitch and can be used to develop and practice your own organization’s pitch with key staff and volunteers.

Phone Bank and Door-to-Door Sample Script

4.6 Phone Bank and Door-to-Door Sample Script (Spanish Version) | (Chinese Version)

You may also want to develop a specific script for your staff and volunteers to use during calls or door-to-door visits. This sheet provides a sample script for you to draw on.

Mobilization Tips & Lessons

4.7 Mobilization Tips & Lessons

Compiled from direct experience of CBO partners, this piece will give you concrete examples of successful GOTV strategies. Review this for ideas to maximize the overall effectiveness of your mobilization activities.

[1] Green, Donald P. and Alan S. Gerber, 2004. Get Out the Vote! How to Increase Voter Turnout. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.


EasyVoter Guide

Permissible Electoral Activities for 501c3s

Election Activities of Individuals Associated with 501c3 Organizations

MIV 2006 Palm Card

MIV 1-Pager

MIV 2005 Media Kit

Here’s what MIV Partners say about the usefulness of the tools:

I used PILA’s materials all the time during election season, from voter registration to mobilization. I would have been lost and overwhelmed without these materials.— Ed Valladares, Filipino Advocates for Justice (formerly Filipinos for Affirmative Action)

The multi-lingual worksheets and handouts make it possible for all our community leaders to participate in the planning and implementation of our electoral activities.— Alex Tom, Chinese Progressive Association

top banner