Often times when creating door knocking turf we want to leave out apartment buildings so our volunteers don't get stuck trying to get into a building they can't access. However, sometimes we want to go out and target those same buildings for intentional outreach. The easiest way to use VAN to identify these apartment buildings is using the "Addresses," section of Create a List. There you'll find a criteria called "Buildings w/ Approx: ___ to ___ Units." This is actually the same function we use to remove apartment buildings, but here we're going to narrow to these buildings instead of removing them!
Using this field we can start to compile lists of any size apartment buildings. Here are recommendations to start from depending on the building sizes you are looking to find:
- Small Buildings: 4-10 units
- Medium Buildings: 10-30 units
- Large Buildings: 30+ units
These recommendations are just a guide, and you should select whatever whichever unit ranges best represent your needs. We break them down this way because they tend to best reflect the different strategies you'll have to use to effectively canvass each building size.
Small buildings are often the most difficult as there are never building staff. Often the only way to get into these at all is to start by phone canvassing everyone in them to try and find a helpful DFLer, or just by showing up and buzzing units until somebody is helpful enough to let you in! These tend to be most common in the city and unfortunately the best strategy is usually to get a handful of your best volunteers into a neighborhood with a lot of small buildings, try your best to get into as many as possible, and bring lots of lit/apartment entrance flyers doing the best you can to have as many conversations as possible.
Medium buildings are much more manageable than small buildings but can still be a bit annoying. Typically medium buildings will be found 3-5 at a time and will all be managed by the same main office for the complex. Calling ahead to that main office and bringing a candidate should make for much easier entry than small buildings! Our best advice is to try and organize one knocker per building so you can let everyone in and get them all done in one swoop.
Large buildings are almost always the easiest. Gaining entry is a similar strategy to medium builds. Call ahead and bring a candidate. Once you're in assign your knockers whatever sections make the most sense -- usually we'll break it down by floors.
We've mentioned multiple times to bring a candidate, and that is because of Minnesota State Statute 211B which outlines gaining access to multi-unit buildings for political outreach. Essentially as long as you have a candidate running in a current election you are required by law to be allowed in to talk with voters and leave lit. The provided link expands on this and provides exact details of what is allowed and what isn't.
Collecting good data on apartment knocks is something nobody has perfected and you could write pages on, but in general my advice is to do three things:
- Print knock sheets for every registered voter in that unit
- Create your own sheets, or google forms to collect as much identifying information on anyone you talk to that isn't on your walk-sheets. In an ideal world you can collect this alongside voter reg or vote by mail applications so it's perfectly accurate to what will show up in VAN once their forms are processed. This will allow you to go back (usually takes 1-2 months for new registrations to populate in VAN) and enter canvass data for these individuals once they are processed.
- First/Last Name
- Address (unit number in particular)
- Other identifying info like: age, sex, etc
- Bring voter registration and/or vote by mail applications and have anybody who isn't on your walk sheets fill them out at the door. Always remember to follow state laws when collecting these forms!
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