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.
- 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.