Part One – How to get your vote out!


As election fever subsides, and parties begin the postmortem, VIxens has decided to offer some advice to those parties who haven’t managed to bring their vote out, or manage it well.  Sinn Féin are unquestionably good at not only reading their support, but in translating it into votes, so we’ve used their model to explain.  So, how do they do it?  Parties take note… 

Sinn Féin firstly have good number crunchers, good strategists, and people who they can call on to canvass.  This is helpful when standing in multiple areas.  All parties who wish to fight elections seriously need it.  But what Sinn Féin have, which most other parties don’t, is an election canvass model.  A seriously good one.  It’s called TORRENT. 

Torrent was devised by the late Sheena Campbell, a party activist, shot dead by the UVF in 1992.  Named after a crucial by election in the Torrent ward in Dungannon, Sheena, who was the campaign manager developed a simple, but highly effective way to approach an election.  Work was broken down into manageable chunks, tasks assigned, but the key to torrent was RECORDING.  Put simply, Sinn Féin recorded how people were likely to vote. 

Here’s how Torrent works. We’ve broken it into a street to make it easier to understand.   Imagine you are a canvasser.  First off, Sinn Féin will give you a list (printed off their internally designed computer database, based on the electoral register), of the names of all eligible voters in that street, by house.   

Beside each name are columns as below. 







Call back? 

1 …. street 

Ms A Anyone 

Mr B Anyone 




want a street light fixed 


DR Who 

Mrs Who 





Disagrees with Abortion Stance-  SDLP voter 


MR C Whatwemean 




Raised the Jean Mc Conville case, wont vote SF. 

















In the first case, MR and MS Anyone are both ticked in the green box.  Both have been assessed by the Sinn Fein canvasser, having rapped the door, as solid Sinn Féin voters.   

The second house, Dr Who is ticked green, again a solid voter, but Mrs Who has told the canvasser that she doesn’t agree with Sinn Féin’s stance on abortion.  The canvasser thinks that she can be swayed to vote Sinn Féin, though, so she’s ticked as a yellow.  Callback Is ticked on this, and Sinn Fein will send a woman in a few days to try to sway Mrs Who, to explain the abortion policy, and to at least get a 2nd preference off her if she wont give a first. 

In the third house, Mr C Whatwemean has given the canvasser a headache.  The canvasser knows straightaway he will not give a first preference vote to Sinn Féin, and ticks the White box.  The canvasser will double check whether there are any other votes in the house, and ask to speak to those voters in case Mr Whatwemean has a differing view from the rest.  They will also be colour coded. 

For this canvass, Sinn Fein will send a team.  It can be done with a team of four to six people per estate or street.  Sinn Féin do it well because they will look for large numbers of canvass teams and put them all into an area together – this gives the street the impression that it’s a slick organisation, and voters are more likely to vote with those seen to be taking the elections seriously.  Having large numbers also gets the canvass done more quickly.   Most political parties have not caught up with this yet, and some take their vote for granted.  TAKE NOTE!  A leaflet through a door, or a once round with a high profile candidate is not enough.  Neither is a rap two days before an election.  



Welcome to a collection of blogs from women who contribute with one aim - simply to write honestly. None of these women shy away from controversy, believing that subjects should be tackled head on, explored, and in some cases even enjoyed. We welcome contributions from anyone who feels they have something to say. Email :

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2 comments on “Part One – How to get your vote out!
  1. […] profiles, Vixens have some reading for the vanquished of the last few days… Sinn Fein’s secret electoral sauce… (parts two and […]

  2. shug says:

    the sdlp’s stance on abortion is exactly the same as SF’s, against abortion on demand unless immediate risk to the mother etc. Why is the myth continually peddled that they are at odds when they clearly aren’t.

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