Effective Ways for Getting Out The Vote Without Email: Channels, Tactics, and Experiments

Published on January 24, 2022

You’re coming to the final days of the campaign, and you know the feeling. 

You’re afraid you’re not doing enough with your get-out-the-vote efforts, and you think a mass email is a perfect solution. Why not? It’s cheap, and it conveys the exact message you want to give. It hits a broad populace. 

However, in 2016, only 73 percent of all business emails even made it into an inbox. In addition, the average rate of emails opened and clicked through (opened a link within an email) are 22 and 4 percent, respectively.

A GOTV campaign meant to mobilize citizens and increase voter turnout requires channels and tactics that resonate with voters.

In this guide, we show you the channels you can use for getting out the vote without email and how you can make direct contact with your audience through each of them.  

Three effective ways for getting out the vote without email

1. Door-to-door canvassing

This channel involves your volunteers knocking on doors and asking your audience to turn up to vote.

Gerber and Green found that door-to-door canvassing was the most consistently effective and efficient method of voter mobilization. They also suggested that the success of canvassing could be attributed to the personal, face-to-face delivery of the GOTV messages.

However, for larger races or organizations with limited volunteers, door-to-door may not be practical or even feasible with areas containing many apartment buildings or gated communities. So, when it comes to getting out the vote without email, this is where a comprehensive calling campaign can be a real game-changer. 

2. Phone calls

David Nickerson, in his 2006 journal mentions that phone calls, with the right quality and personalization boost voter turnout by 3.8%.

Your volunteers call a list of contacts, reminding them to vote. CallHub has automated dialers that helps you reach all your contacts in the shortest time possible. Your volunteers can make calls from anywhere with just a phone or browser, and you can monitor the calls and volunteers’ performance.

Best practices: 

  1. Call voters on weekends close to the election day to stay on top of their minds.
  2. Match your Caller ID with your contacts’ location to increase the answer rate for your GOTV campaign. 
  3. Clean up your database by verifying the validity of the numbers.
  4. Let your volunteers note the responses of your contacts while on the call. Integrate your CRM to keep track of the number of contacts that agreed to vote.
  5. Add customized scripts your volunteers can use to interact with your contacts.

Here are 8 solid strategies for your GOTV calling campaign.

3. Text messaging

“What gives texting its political power is its ability to cut through a lot of other advertising noise … it offers the nearest thing a candidate can get to ensuring that a message will be opened and read”, says The New York Times.

Texting has several use cases to get out the vote. You can remind your contacts to vote, send voting-related information, answer related queries, and so on. 

Now let’s see a form of texting that’s the most ideal for a GOTV campaign- Peer-to-Peer Texting. This involves having your volunteers reach out to your audience and encouraging them to vote. 

With a tool like CallHub, your volunteers can initiate multiple conversations simultaneously and record responses. As soon as your volunteers log in to CallHub, they get a number of contacts assigned to them. You can monitor your volunteers’ performance through real-time analytics. 

With peer-to-peer texting, the volunteer can have a conversation with the recipient and record responses. This method uses the personalization tactic to drive the vote effectively, and because it comes from a 10-digit phone and is sent individually, no opt-in is required. However, we recommend you get opt-ins for better success rates.

Best practices: 

  1. Set up automated responses, so your volunteers save time while texting.
  2. Train your volunteers with the specifics of the campaign and the platform.
  3. Use emojis to sound friendly and human.

Here are some more best practices peer-to-peer texting must follow.

Getting out the vote without email: Tactics

The ultimate goal of a GOTV campaign is to empower the audience to cast their vote. Let’s see some tactics that help you do that.

1. Get people registered to vote

Help your audience register to vote by sharing step-by-step instructions. Also, share details such as the date and location. Segmenting your list by location helps target your efforts. 

To educate your audience this way, share resources such as Q&As on registering to vote, invite them to voter education-focused workshops, guide them to find the relevant information on websites like VOTE411, etc. 

Here’s a guide to voter registration by phone using calling and texting.

2. Educate supporters on candidates

Educating your supporters on candidates or endorsing your candidate plays an important role. Think of this as an effort to empower your audience to make an informed decision on election day, such as helping them find information on their candidates.

3. Help with absentee voting and early voting

The requirements and deadlines for absentee voting and early voting vary depending on the state. The rules change frequently, and you need to keep your supporters updated. Be that authentic source of information your supporters can reach out to whenever they need answers.

Here are a few voter mobilization tactics for ballot chasing using calling and texting.

4. Communicate why voting is important

Tie the importance of each supporter’s votes back to the issues that they care about. Keep it brief and friendly to make sure it doesn’t seem like you are imposing your opinions on them. 

5. Ask for commitment

Follow-ups play an essential role in mobilizing voters ahead of election day. Call your voters, remind them about the elections and ask for their commitment.

6. Offer rides to the polling station

Ask constituents about their voting plans on election day. For example, how they plan on getting to the booth, at what time, etc. Make it easier for your supporters to vote by offering a ride to their polling station. You can gather people in batches for easier transportation. While it is legal to escort people to the polling location, they must enter the ballot box by themselves.

7. Send reminders about going to the polls

Sending text reminders to your supporters is one of the best ways to reach them instantly. CallHub’s texting software helps you send these reminders in bulk in a short time.  

Calling or sending personalized audio messages is also an effective way to remind your supporters to vote.

Getting out the vote without email, in practice

This section presents a few findings from different experiments on getting out the vote without email. 

  1. What matters are messages directed at one voter, not a group of voters. Studies suggest that successful strategies that encourage voters to turn out involve personalized messages.
  2. The guide to grassroots elections Get Out The Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout determined that GOTV efforts gave one vote for every
  • 15 door knocks, costing $31 per vote
  • 35 phone calls, costing $35 per vote
  • 273 direct mails, costing $91 per vote, with no effect. 
  1. According to Donald Green and Alan Gerber’s groundbreaking book, Get Out the Vote: A Guide for Candidates and Campaigns, and subsequent Yale University studies, there is nothing to suggest mass email is effective with GOTV efforts. In studies written by David Nickerson, more than a dozen email experiments refuted the claim that it mobilized voters. 
  2. GOTV campaigns are most effective when voters are told they will be asked about it after election day. Societal expectations motivate voters to turn up and vote to tell others.
  3. Studies show that voters are also motivated to go to the booths when they are told the turnout will be high.
  4. In 2012, Rock the Vote conducted an experiment where they sent text reminders to 180,000 people who had provided their mobile numbers. These text messages sent the day before the election day increased the voter turnout by 60%.
  5. Research shows that local canvassers with community ties can be much more effective in boosting voter turnout than outsiders.
  6. Phone calls from volunteers are effective when they are personal and unhurried, shows Green and Gerber’s book. For instance, a volunteer that takes the time to understand your audience’s concerns and addresses them is more likely to receive a positive response.

In closing, studies show that email GOTV persuasion, with its generic tone and consistent ineffectiveness, is a waste of a campaign’s valuable time and resources. Instead, investing in methods that offer personalization and interactivity will make a crucial difference in maximizing persuasion efforts.

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Featured image: Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash