How to knock on doors in York

Produced by Darryl Smalley & Andrew Hollyer (2018)

This guide has been compiled by Darryl Smalley and Andrew Hollyer and is based on years of experience both volunteering and working for the party. This advice comes from thousands of conversations in York, Chesterfield, Lincoln and national by-elections. Yes, voters may be slightly different in your patch, but from the tower blocks of Lewisham to the villages of North Yorkshire, if you follow this advice you won’t go too far wrong.

The key do’s and don’ts


● Smile. Nobody wants to speak to someone who looks miserable.

● Make eye contact. Not lustful, but friendly.

● Knock LOUDLY. Residents might be upstairs, in the loft or listening to Shania Twain. They don’t have their ear cupped to the door. If you can’t hear the doorbell when pressing it, then knock as well.

● Pass on any local issues that are raised to the local team/councillors.

● Come back with voting intention when canvassing. It is of absolutely no use if you tell us Mrs Smith was ‘friendly’ or ‘had a well-kept garden’. Voters come in all shapes and sizes, and to predict personal voting behaviour based on gardens and National Trust car stickers is both illiberal and highly inaccurate. People are usually willing to tell us who they support if we ask the right question. Marking a resident as ‘Won’t Say’, most often means ‘I asked the wrong question’.



● Do not leave the doorstep without asking the residents voting intention.

● Do not go to the door as a pair. It wastes time, we could be knocking on double the doors! It also looks like we’re trying to spread the message of God, meaning people don’t answer the door.

● Don't assume that the person you speak to is representative of everyone in the house (only mark someone as giving voting intention if you spoke to them)


When recording voting intention these are the meanings:


Definite Lib Dem - means they are definitely voting and definitely voting Lib Dem

Probable Lib Dem - means they are probably voting and if they vote they will either probably or definitely be voting Lib Dem

Labour - means they are voting Labour and won't be persuaded otherwise

Soft Labour - means they lean towards Labour, but they are also considering voting for us (to whatever degree)

Conservative - means they are voting Conservative and won't be persuaded otherwise

Soft Conservative - means they lean towards the Conservatives, but they are also considering voting for us (to whatever degree)

Not Voting - they have said they do not vote in local elections

Won't Say - when you reach the bottom of the list of asks and are still unable to get any usable information from them.

If they were too busy when they answered the door (holding the baby/middle of dinner etc) mark them as 'Refused' or simply 'Not Home' depending on the extent to which you are able to converse with them.

When using a Residents Survey, the conversation tends to go like this:


Volunteer: Hi! Sorry to bother you, we’re just out doing a local Residents Survey, all about issues in our area - from potholes to speeding. [Lift survey towards resident] Can I just leave this with you? [99% of residents say yes at this point]

Resident: [Usually says yes or brings up local issue - if they bring up a local issue then ask them to write more about it on the back of the survey]

Volunteer: We’ll be walking back along the road in half an hour or so, if you could leave the survey hanging out of your letterbox, then we’ll grab it without bothering you again.

Resident: Thanks, will do.

Volunteer: Thank you!

Note: If resident declines to do the survey and leave it out of letterbox, then offer an envelope.

When canvassing, the conversation tends to go like this:


Volunteer: Hi! Sorry to bother you, we’re just out with you local Lib Dems, asking if residents have any issues in our area - from potholes to speeding? [Most residents say nothing really at this point]

Resident: [Have a conversation about issues, make notes if necessary]

Volunteer: Can I leave this card with you [hand over calling card], it’s got your local Lib Dems contact details on, feel free to get in touch with them about any local issues affecting you.

Volunteer: Just one more thing, you might be aware next May York has local elections for the council. Is there a party you usually support for local elections?


If they don’t answer the question


Volunteer: [Ask these questions, multiple until you get some sort of voting intention]

1. Is there a party you’d never vote for? Labour or the Tories perhaps?

2. Do you remember who you voted for last time?

3. Would you consider voting for the Lib Dem team locally?


Volunteer: You might be aware that it’s between the Lib Dems and [SECOND PARTY], would you consider voting Lib Dem to stop the [SECOND PARTY] winning here next May?


Volunteer: Well the Lib Dem team work hard all year round, if there’s ever any local issues bothering you feel free to get in touch and they’ll try and sort it out.


If they support the Lib Dems


Volunteer: Thank you for your support, would you consider signing up for a postal vote?

Note: Always have postal vote forms with you, and mention how it can help the Lib Dems to have more supporters on postal voters, and will be easier for them. Ask them to send the forms directly to the Council, the address is on the form.

Volunteer: Thank you for your support, would you consider putting up a garden poster board to show your support? They can really help us show it’s between us and [SECOND PARTY] in our area.

Note: Always have garden stake board permission slips with you, Darryl or Andrew can supply these.