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Voters First Conventions

Step 2 – Plan Your Party

The form your Voters First Party takes is pretty much up to you. Be creative and have a great time with it! Remember the message you’re trying to get across, and brainstorm ways to make your party informative, fun, and compelling.

Things to Consider

  • Who to invite. Invite your friends, family, or others in your personal network who might be interested in getting involved.
  • Brainstorm. Food and drinks are always a great way to draw people to an event. Is there a band you could invite to play? Some other kind of entertainment? What will make people excited enough to come despite their busy schedules? Could your party have a theme?
  • Meetings. If you’re working with a group, how often should your group meet to make sure the party is a success? At the end of each meeting, assign to-do’s to group members. It’s usually a good idea to have one group member check in with others to make sure the to-do’s are getting done.
  • When and where. What are the times when most people in your community are available to attend parties? Is your party conflicting with another event? If you want to organize an event around watching the convention on TV, what time is the convention on TV? What venues are good spaces for parties? Will everyone feel comfortable there?
  • Fun. How can you get the message across, but not bore people? Be creative. Make an (ironic) toast to your members of Congress, the soft-money loopholes, or corporate sponsorship of the conventions. Watch the convention on TV and have an activity to do every time you see a corporate slogan or give out a prize to the person who spots the most corporate advertisements. If you need party favors or prizes for your guests, email us at action@citizen.org.
  • Media. How will you get the press to attend and cover your party? Let local media know in advance and invite them to attend. Are there bloggers or a special guest to invite who would draw media attention? What about your party will make it news worthy? How about the fact that you’ve invited your members of Congress… but will they come?
  • Prepare. Make sure you have fact sheets available at your party and have a laptop with the Voters First Action Page up so that guests can take action at the party. (http://action.citizen.org/t/1153/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=25137)  Prepare a Regrets letter to send to your representatives in Congress (see p. 11). Have everyone that attends your party sign the letter.
  • Funding. Come up with an estimate of how much your party might cost. If you’re working on a campus, there’s usually a student activities group that gives out funds for student sponsored events. You can sometimes apply to individual departments for funding. Bake sales or other fundraisers are a good idea too. You can also collect ‘Put Voters First’ contributions of $1-$5 at your party.
  • Record. Take video and pictures of your party. Try interviewing your guests about the conventions. Some questions you could ask: Why do you think corporations donate so much money to the conventions? Do you think the conventions put voters first? How do you feel that Representative X didn’t show up to our party? Send your video to Public Citizen at action@citizen.org. The best video and picture we receive will go up on our website.


Sample Invitation

Dear _____,

You’re invited! In honor of the 2008 national party conventions, we are/I am throwing a Voters First Party to tell Congress to put voters before big money at the conventions this summer.

By making contributions to the convention host committees, corporate donors can purchase access to our elected officials while ordinary voters are left by the wayside.

We’ve/I’ve invited our members of Congress to attend our Voters First Party instead of corporate-sponsored parties at the conventions so that our voices won’t be drowned out by big money.

Let’s show Congress we know how to party! Please RSVP to [name/contact info] by [date].

What: Voters First Party
When: [Date]
Where: [Venue/Address]

Step 3 – Invite Your Representatives

This is one of the most important aspects of the Voters First Campaign. Inviting your members of Congress to attend your Voters First Party gives you a chance to educate them about corruption at the 2008 conventions and encourage them to choose voters over big money.

You can look up the information for your members of Congress here: www.house.gov/writerep/ and www.senate.gov/contacting/index.cfm. Below is a form letter you can use to write your invitation. Feel free to personalize the invitation, but make sure the message is focused and on target. Be sure to send the invitation at least 10 days before the party.

Dear Representative/Senator X,

You are cordially invited to a Voters First Party that (I/group name) am/is hosting in honor of the DNC/GOP Convention in the Twin Cities/Denver. As you most likely know, the conventions are often a time for corporations and lobbyists to mingle with elected officials, while ordinary voters are left at home to watch the conventions on TV.

This year more than ever, corporations and other large donors have contributed to the “nonpartisan” host committees to support the conventions, and in return gained privileged access to elected officials such as yourself. It’s clear that the extent to which a donor has access to advertising opportunities and influential convention attendees increases as the amount of their contribution rises. This process ensures that big money will have its interests heard at the conventions, while ordinary voters fall by the wayside.

As your constituent(s), I/we invite you to put voters first this summer and attend my/our Voters First Party rather than corporate-sponsored parties. The party will take place at (address) on (date and time).

Please RSVP to (name/address/email/phone) by (date). We look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Name (or Group Name)
Address

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For more information or to take action on this issue, visit our website at SayNoToLobbyists.org