When elected officials are called out in public, it can spur them to take action, quickly! We call this “bird-dogging” — showing up at political or community events virtually and asking the elected official to fill out the survey. Because of the pandemic, we want to ensure that all activists are staying safe and birddogging online.
It becomes more effective when it happens multiple times: at every public virtual event, an activist is there, putting them on the spot, insisting on a straight answer. Virtual birddogging is a really fun tactic that you can build a team to get involved in, and we can train you on everything you’ll need to know to get results.
1) Recruit some friends
Virtual bird-dogging is a lot more effective if you have a team of people who show up at an elected official’s public appearances. It’s always better to have one person ready to ask the questions and one person recording the exchange to get it on the record.
2) Find your new or re-elected state senator
Because the COVID-19 pandemic is still so dangerous, elected officials will be at virtual public events often. Start by looking at their website, reading the paper, Googling, or even calling their campaign or government office directly and asking about upcoming virtual events. The best opportunities are events where the elected official will be taking questions or will be somewhat approachable.
3) Ask your question!
Once you are at the virtual event, your goal is to publicly ask the elected official this question: “We have reached out to you to ask that you talk to voters about voting rights. Will you tell voters what you will do to reform our democracy by filling out the voting rights questionnaire at https://bit.ly/3kWBhus?”
Have your crew copy and paste the link many times over because in virtual events the public comment feed moves quickly.
You want to remain visible. Dropping in the link over and over with your question is like holding up “virtual signs”. Have each member of your crew repeat the question relentlessly, getting reporters to inquire, etc. The key is to be respectful but also relentless and highly visible.
4) Don’t give up!
It might take multiple virtual meetings to get an elected official to realize you aren’t giving up easily. But if you keep going and keep making sure they know you’re not giving up, they will eventually respond.