Organizing an All Candidates Meeting

Organizing an All Candidates Meeting

What is an All-Candidates Meeting?

All candidates meetings are an opportunity for political candidates and residents to connect before an election. Residents have a chance to evaluate the candidates, political platforms, and ask questions about current issues.

Why should your Club host one

  • They foster an interest in civic engagement and political
  • They are a public service and central to the democratic
  • They can give your Club a visible voice in your
  • They provide an opportunity for politicians to connect with the voting public.

Getting started

  • Determine where, when and who else is sponsoring community debates.
  • Consider collaborating with other local organizations.
  • Assemble a committee or working group. Include members who are good at publicity, interested in current issues and are active in your community.
  • Develop a budget. Include costs of printing, publicity, venue fees, refreshments
  • Choose a venue, date and time.
  • Select two alternate dates for your meeting – a few weeks before Election Day is ideal for maximum This will help you when securing the participation of the candidates. A weekday evening or during the day on a Saturday are ideal times to organize the meeting
  • Determine the duration; most all-candidates meetings are no more than 2
  • Secure an accessible, appropriate sized venue.
  • Contact all candidates and their managers. Follow up in writing with details, format, and type of campaign materials that can be distributed

Develop your Meeting Format and Questions

  • Prepare a slate of short, concise, non-partisan questions to augment questions from the floor
  • Your event can also be organized as a more informal meet and greet, allowing candidates and residents to mingle and ask/respond to questions on a more individual basis.
  • Your meeting could also be organized around a specific theme (e.g. women), or aim to cover number of key issue areas including the economy, foreign policy, the environment, human rights and

Select a Moderator, Time Keeper and Bouncer

  • Select a firm moderator who is a good public speaker, is politically aware, politically neutral and has a public profile.
  • Appoint a timekeeper who can be firm. Use a stopwatch and timecards of 1 minute and 30 seconds to flash at candidates. Responses from candidates should be kept to 1 minutes
  • Designate a “bouncer”. It may become necessary to ask some members of the audience to leave. Do decide this protocol before the meeting.

Publicize the Event

  • Posters: include date, place, time and candidates’ and moderator’s names. Include CFUW’s logo and a contact person from your Club.  Send to schools, libraries, community groups, contact lists, social media.
  • Set up a Facebook event page.
  • Prepare CFUW materials to advertise your Club and have someone to host table at entrance.
  • Send a press release to the local paper, online media and TV community calendars before media deadlines.

Set-Up on the Day of the Meeting

  • Arrange tables and chairs so that audience can get to microphones on the floor.
  • Do a sound check to make sure all equipment is Try to have one microphone for each speaker, and multiple (e.g. 2-4) in the aisles.

Program for the Meeting

  • Give candidates a table to display election materials outside the Do not allow election posters from candidates on property other than at designated tables.
  • Greet candidates and the moderator and lead them to assigned seats on stage.
  • Begin on time and end on Maximum two hours.
  • Begin with a welcome by CFUW president or designated member, outline the purpose of the event, and give a very brief introduction to CFUW (e.g. aims and objectives of the organization, scholarships awarded locally).
  • Moderator introduces themselves and states their neutrality, review the evening’s format, the order of questions, timelines, and outline procedure for audience questions, time limit for individual questions.
  • Allow one-minute opening statement by each
  • Have moderator ask prioritized questions addressed to all candidates, giving them one minute each to answer.
  • For questions from the audience, alternate questions from microphones, one minute for answer from candidates addressed, followed by 30 seconds for other candidates to rebut if
  • At the end of the event, moderator hands over the meeting to CFUW:
    • Thank the candidates, moderator, volunteers and residents for their participation.
    • Remind audience to fill out evaluation sheets

Evaluate and Acknowledge

  • Send thank you notes and small token gifts to the moderator and volunteers, thank you notes to the candidates
  • Remember you will never please everyone and some comments will be by committed party

Thank you to Marianne Waraich-Singh, CFUW Director of Education 2007 for preparing the document, edited 2017 by Elizabeth Haynes, CFUW Windsor, and Anne Douglas and Teri Shaw, CFUW Oakville.

Want a printed copy? Access the PDF Organizing an All Candidates Meeting, 2018.