Get out the Vote: Research-backed Strategies and Tools to increase Voter Turnout

August 17, 2019 - 45 minutes read

You know the basic idea behind GOTV: getting people out to vote. Or in the case of a partisan campaign: getting supporters out to vote.

The problem is that most GOTV messages have little impact on voter turnout.

This blog post covers the nuances in messaging and choice of communication channels that make GOTV programs effective.

All the tactics I mention tie back to research done as far back as Gerber and Green’s seminal study on GOTV till more recent studies done during the 2018 US midterms.

Let’s start with the major insights from fifteen years of research on improving voter turnout.

  1. Generic GOTV messages have minimal effect on voter turnout.
  2. GOTV messages that exert a degree of social pressure, help voters make a plan and provide voting information has significant impact on voter turnout, especially in local races.
  3. The impact of GOTV outreach increases up till 5 contacts and diminishes with 6 or more contacts.
  4. Local volunteers perform better than out of state or paid volunteers in convincing someone to turn out to vote, by a large margin.
  5. Door to door canvassing is the most effective way to get out the vote followed by phone calls, peer to peer texting, direct mail, and literature drop in that order.
The impact of GOTV outreach increases up till 5 contacts and diminishes with 6 or more contacts. #GOTV #Elections Click To Tweet

Your GOTV effort, if done right can move the needle by more than 10 percentage points. We’ll look at what it takes to make that happen, starting with the overall GOTV plan.

What should the overall get out the vote campaign plan look like? 

Depending on how big a voter universe you are targeting and how many volunteers you have available, you can start GOTV efforts 3 to 7 days before election day.

voter-journey-stages

3 – 7 days before election day

  • Volunteers start knocking on doors of identified supporters helping them make a plan and reminding them to vote. Drop literature for supporters who aren’t at home.
  • Get your candidate out and about doing meet and greets in high visibility areas. Community events, grocery stores, and transit stops offer good exposure.
  • Start GOTV phonebanking and texting efforts.

2 days before election day

  • Canvassing efforts continue. Attempt to reach supporters who could not be reached earlier and encourage them to vote.
  • Phone banking and texting campaigns happen alongside canvassing efforts in areas where you don’t have enough on-the-ground volunteers.
  • Distribute materials to poll workers.

Day before election

  • Actively target voters who could not be reached during the previous days through phone calls and door knocks.
  • Pump up your social media campaign and display GOTV messages to targeted voters.

Election Day

  • Send out final election day reminders via texts.
  • Continue GOTV efforts till polls close. By evening, you should have received the details of people who haven’t voted from poll watchers. Follow up and make sure they cast their votes before the polls close.

Which voters should I target for GOTV?

Collect voter data from the beginning 

Start preparing for GOTV right from the ID and persuasion stage. The simplest way to do that is to mark supporter levels from 1-5 during touches before GOTV and then concentrating efforts on 1’s and 2’s during GOTV stage.

As your campaign progresses and you build a larger supporter base, the 1-5 scale helps target your efforts to the right audience.

In CallHub the 1-5 scale can be marked as a multi-choice question where

  • 1 is strong support
  • 2 is weak support
  • 3 is undecided
  • 4 is weak oppose
  • 5 is strong oppose

Volunteers making calls or sending texts can add or modify this information for voters based on each conversation.

NOTE: Supporter levels aren’t always effective. Supporter affiliation can change with time or people may just be trying to be nice over the phone. Consider a margin of error when using this strategy.

Work towards your WIN number

WIN number is the number of votes you need to win. In a two-person race that’s 50% of the votes cast + 1. Accounting for a margin of safety, a vote goal of 53% should steer you towards a win.

calculate-win-number-elections

How to calculate your WIN Number:

A vote goal of 53% should steer you towards a win #GOTV #elections Click To Tweet
  • Step 1: Take the average voter turnout of the last three elections.
    (Year 1 turnout % + Year 2 turnout % + Year 3 turnout %)/3 = Average turnout %
  • Step 2: Multiply average turnout with total number of registered voters in the targeted district or precinct
    Average turnout % x Number of registered voters = Expected turnout
  • Step 3: Multiply expected turnout by 53%.
    Expected turnout x 53% = Vote goal

If you’re in a multiple-candidate race more factors come into play when determining your WIN number.

Focus your efforts on historically strong areas

If you have historical data on how you performed in each precinct, focus your efforts in areas that turned out in high numbers for you before targeting swing areas.

While a lot of voters in historically strong areas already support you and will go out to vote anyway, many supporters don’t cast their vote because of “costs” incurred. These costs include:

  • Time and distance it takes to go to the polling station.
  • Time spent waiting in line.
  • Less than favorable weather conditions.

Voters who believe that their candidate is going to win without it having to cost them tend to stay at home. The 2016 US Presidential election offers a stark example of this where low turnout among Democrats in key swing states Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan helped swing the election to Donald Trump.

A personal contact goes a long way towards helping voters make up for these “costs”.

A personal contact goes a long way towards helping voters make up for the “costs of voting”. #GOTV #Elections Click To Tweet

If you’re short on volunteers, cover strong areas with peer to peer texting campaigns since they help you scale faster. For swing areas, use phone calls and door knocks for a more personal and convincing message.

Which Get Out The Vote(GOTV) tactics/strategies are most successful?

Research points to specific GOTV tactics that are effective at getting people to the polls. GOTV efforts should:

  • Help voters make a plan
  • Create well-informed voters
  • Persuade through social pressure
  • Persuade through peer pressure
  • Contact repeatedly
  • Use negative campaigning

Help voters make a plan

People are more likely to complete a task if you can get them to mentally visualize the process.

help-voters-make-plan

When voters were asked over the phone to take a pledge to vote followed by a series of questions that mentally took them through the process of voting, they voted at a rate 4 percentage points higher than people who did not receive the call. 

The tactic works best on voters who stay alone. These voters are less likely to have a plan than people who stay in groups or families where discussing the next day’s activities is a normal part of everyday life. For someone who stays alone, rehearsing their Election Day routine with a stranger has a huge effect on their decision to cast a vote.

Questions you can ask include:

  • When are you planning to vote? (“Before I drop the kids off or after I come home from work.”)
  • How are you getting to the polling station? (“Should I drive my car or take the bus.”)

If you have enough volunteers you can also hand out pledge cards that ask people to “pledge” to vote followed by volunteers asking the above questions face to face.

How to find voters who stay alone?

Household data is hard to come by unless you’re using a data vendor.

The cheapest solution is to group people who have the same address or landline number and exempt them from plan-making messages. While NationBuilder uses address to segment households, CallHub uses landline numbers.

Both these methods are useful for targeting but their effectiveness depends on the quality of your voter data.

For high-quality data, you can use data vendors like L2 or Target Smart and import the data into CallHub for your GOTV outreach.

How to select one voter per household in L2 VoterMapping

QUICK NOTE: This GOTV tactic works on people you established a relationship with through at least one previous contact. If you are a non-partisan organization cold calling or cold texting leads from the voter list to increase voter turnout, this strategy may not work for you.

Create well-informed voters

A study by Nonprofit VOTE on nonpartisan voter turnout groups found that groups who provided information around voting including voter guides, ballot measure informational sheets etc. were more effective at getting people out to vote.

voter-guide-gotv
Groups who provided information around voting including voter guides, ballot measure informational sheets etc. were more effective at getting people out to vote #GOTV #Election Click To Tweet

Some of the common questions around voting that you can help answer include:

  • Where do I vote?
  • When do I vote?
  • When and where do I vote if I can’t make it on election day?
  • What identification do I need?
  • Can I still vote if I’m not registered to vote?

Especially with young people ages 18 to 24, the confusion around how to cast their ballot acts as a major deterrent to voting. Statistics Canada puts them as the group that’s least likely to vote in a provincial election.

If you can cut out that confusion, there is a higher chance people are going to vote.

QUICK TIP: If you are sending GOTV texts, include a contact number so people who aren’t comfortable with texting have a channel to reach out to for more information. Especially useful when you are reaching out to older voters who may not be familiar with texting.

Eg. “Have questions about voting? Call our voter hotline at 822-24-8268”.

Persuade through social pressure

In a study during the 2010 general election, researchers sent out two mailers to people, with one minor difference – one mailer had the text “We may call you after the election to ask about your voting experience” at the top-right corner.

social-pressure-gotv-strategy

An addition that increased its effectiveness by almost 50%. 

Social pressure can be put to work in multiple ways to motivate people to vote. Other successful social pressure tactics include:

  1. Sending someone a letter showing their past voting history.
  2. Thanking people for voting in previous elections.
  3. Emphasizing that many people vote (This tactic is somewhat disputed with some campaigners still using low voter turnout and thin margins as a motivator. But multiple studies suggest otherwise, with researchers recording higher turnout with everyone-is-doing-it messages rather than don’t-be-part-of-the-problem appeals.)

While these tactics follow a softer tone, shaming tactics that use social pressure also increase voter turnout. For example, sending the message that both the voter and their neighbors would be informed about who had voted after the election increase turnout by 8 percentage points. However, Compare that to the 4.6 percentage point increase when voters were told that their vote was a matter of public record, it is evident why campaigns resort to shaming tactics.

Although, they’re less effective in the short run, tactics that don’t shame voters into voting create better outcomes across multiple election cycles. Shaming tactics have resulted in backlash for campaigns as well making people feel coerced into doing something.

The best practice is to frame your message so that it effectively says “we’re keeping an eye on you” rather than “we’re going to shame you if you don’t vote”.

Persuade through peer pressure

Social norms rally people to go out and vote in high numbers. The motivation to adhere to social norms is even stronger when delivered as part of a message from someone within the voter’s personal network.

peer-pressure-gotv-strategy

This method is especially effective at turning out minority communities and young voters. Getting the message to vote from a member of their community or someone from the same college is more impactful than the same message coming from a stranger.

The hard part is finding people from a volunteer’s contact list who are part of their voting precinct. Some relational organizing tools like VoterCircle solve this by letting you match a supporter’s contact list with the voter list and filter out voters in their area.

IMPORTANT: Make sure the ask to mobilize friends and family only goes out to strong supporters. A 2006 study found that asks to mobilize neighbours deter some people from voting.

Think of it as a product purchase. Aren’t you less likely to buy the product if exposed to an optional add-on during check out? A call to mobilize works similarly by shifting the voters attention from a “vote yourself” message to a “get your neighbors to vote” component which comes as too big an ask for weak supporters.

Contact repeatedly

Field experiments focused on communities with a history of low participation shows us that repeated personal contact especially through door knocks and phone calls can produce habitual voters.

Ideally, you should have reached a voter 4-5 times across the duration of the campaign. However, contacting someone at least twice significantly impacts your chance of getting a vote.

The four touch points can be:

  • A soft touch where you introduce yourself and the campaign.
  • Voter identification campaign.
  • Reaching people early on in the GOTV stage to confirm support.
  • Final GOTV message right before or on election day where you remind them of their pledge to support and ask them to vote.

Use negative campaigning

negative-campaign-political

When scientists studying the effects of negative information on the brain hooked people up to an fMRI machine, it didn’t record much activity when subjects were presented with positive information. Negative information, on the other hand, caused their brains to light up.

Negative information gets us to pay attention, it gets people to mobilize around a candidate or cause and turn out to vote.

It is particularly effective at mobilizing “anti-supporters”, a burgeoning group of voters who vote for a party because they  “dislike another party even more and want to stop them from winning.”.

According to research and polling firm Angus Reid, almost half the people who plan to vote either Liberal or Conservative in the 2019 Canadian Federal elections can be classified as “anti-supporters”.


That means you create more committed voters by saying “People are going to pass bad policies to harm you.” or  “Candidate X has this really harmful bill.” than asking someone to “Vote because it’s your civic duty.”.

Which channels should I use to GOTV?

Door to door canvassing to get out the vote

door-to-door-canvassing-gotv
Source: The Independent

What is the impact?

There’s no argument around the fact that door to door canvassing is the most effective tactic to turn out voters. In a study on MoveOn GOTV operations, researchers found that contact with MoveOn volunteers increased turnout by approximately 9 percentage points.

How do I do it?

Traditionally, canvassing involves cutting the voting districts into turfs on a map and then assigning each turf to a volunteer pair. While this method is cost-effective, it presents challenges in the form of volunteer management, assigning talking points, data entry and tracking volunteer activities.

Especially if you are tasking a third party to carry out canvassing activities on your behalf, it doesn’t make sense to not have up to date information on canvassing activities. Canvassing tools like ECanvasser help with that.

You can download our Canvassing Blueprint for a deeper look at how to run your canvassing efforts.

How many volunteers do I need?

Unlike a voter ID or persuasion campaign, GOTV outreach should not take as much time. A typical canvasser spends around 1 to 3 minutes at a door averaging about 20 doors per hour (accounting for time spent walking). So, a single volunteer on a 3 hour shift can knock around 60 doors per shift.

What should I say?

  • Identify the voter.
  • Make sure they have all the information they need to vote on election day.
  • Stress high turnout in the area.
  • Ask them when they intend to vote.
  • Ask them if they require help getting to the polling station.
  • Thank them for their support.

Here is a slightly modified version of the MoveOn canvassing script that was used in their 2004 outreach campaign:


Hi, how are you. My name is _____. Is ______ [name] in?

I am a volunteer with [campaign name] and I want to make sure you are all set to vote for [candidate name] tomorrow. The race is really close, but we have an upsurge of momentum and we’re all going to get out and vote and put our country on a new and better course. What time are you planning to vote? [Write down time]

Do you need a ride to the polls [or any other assistance to allow you to vote]? I can send someone over to pick you up. [Mark that they need a ride, and if they need other help] Here’s a fact sheet from [campaign name] about this election and directions to our polling place. Please share it with like-minded friends and make sure they get out to vote! 

Can you volunteer to help us out here in our neighborhood? We’d love to have your help even for 2 hours.

[If Yes] Great! Here’s a sign up sheet, you can pick any day and time and give 2 hours; it’s fun. Thanks for your time _______ [name], and thank you for your support. When you go vote, will you check in with one of our volunteers at the polls so we know you’ve voted? Look for the volunteer in the [recognizable signifier of campaign like an armband or a button]. See you on Election Day!


How much will it cost?

Around $0.5 per contact if you are using a canvassing software.

Phone banking to get out the vote

political-phonebanking-gotv
Source: DAILY KOS

What is the impact?

Volunteer-led phone banks increased turnout by 3.8 percentage points, in contrast to commercial phone banks that created less than 1 percentage point increase in turnout.

This difference is attributed to the emphasis unpaid volunteers put on making a personal connection with people compared to professional callers who focus on completing as many calls as they can in an hour.

This is backed by multiple studies that show that the dynamic interaction during authentic person-to-person contact is the most important determinant in voter mobilization.

This is not to say that commercial phone banks shouldn’t be considered. If you don’t have enough volunteers, paid canvassers can be an effective alternative. Just make sure to hire experienced callers that prioritize authenticity over contact rates.

How do I make the calls?

  1. Manually dial numbers from a paper list: Average 30 dials per hour and 10 contacts per hour. (Not everyone you call is going to pick up the phone. Expect an average pickup rate of 30%.)
  2. Manually dial numbers from a virtual phone bank: Calling tool displays the details of the contact to be called along with attached surveys and call script. Volunteers make calls using the calling plan on their phone and enter voter data in the tool. Average 35 dials per hour and 15 contacts per hour.

Tools include Collective Calling by CallHub and OpenVPB by NGP VAN.

  1. Dial automatically from a Predictive Dialer: Average 110 dials per hour and 45 contacts per hour (Eg. Predictive Dialer by CallHub) 
  2. Click to dial: Volunteer clicks a button and the system dials the next person on the list. Average 45 dials per hour and 25 contacts per hour. Eg. Power Dialer by CallHub

How many volunteers do I need?

Depends on how you intend to make the calls. A manual dialing campaign will require more volunteers than if you’re using an automated dialer like the Predictive Dialer or a click to call tool. 

You can calculate the number of volunteers you need using this formula:

Volunteers required = Total contactsDials per hourDaysHours per shift

Volunteers required = (Total contacts) / (Dials per hour X Days X Hours per shift)
  • Total contacts: Total number of contacts on your list
  • Dials per hour: Number of dials a single volunteer makes in an hour. Depends on your dialer and the time volunteers spend on each call.
  • Days: Number of days you plan to run the campaign
  • Hours per shift: Number of hours in a daily shift per volunteer

Say you’re trying to reach 10,000 voters with a Predictive Dialer and make 110 dials per hour. If you have 4 days to make the calls with 3 hour shifts, you’ll need 8 volunteers to make the calls.

What should I say?

Give volunteers a basic script that uses tactics talked about earlier in the blog. But give them the flexibility to modify the script and develop their own style of dialogue. This is especially important when volunteers are talking to other voters in their area.

When volunteers are given the flexibility to modify the pitch to their strengths, the conversations take on a more authentic tone that acts as a major motivator to vote.

Texting to get out the vote

texting-get-out-the-vote

What is the impact?

Voters getting text reminders voted at a rate 3.1 percentage points higher than those who did not.

Unlike broadcast texts that were prevalent a couple of years back, peer to peer texting has come into the spotlight as a more effective way to get out the vote owing to its personal nature. It still comes in behind door knocks and phone calls in terms of effectiveness, but the sheer scale that texting allows gives campaigns who are strapped for volunteers a competitive edge.

A single peer to peer texting volunteer can send out around 2500 texts in the span of an hour compared to 20 doors/hour for a canvass or making 100 phone calls.

Important note: Texts sent to voters with whom the campaign had made no previous contact showed negligible impact on voter turnout. You should have reached out to the voter at least once before the GOTV ask.

How do I send the texts?

Peer to peer texting: Volunteers engage potential voters in personal conversations over text encouraging them to vote. The conversational nature gives you room to help voters make a plan, answer any queries and do follow-ups.


Sample GOTV text: Tuesday, Nov 7th is Election Day. Polls are open from 6 am to 7 pm. Look up your polling place at: http://bit.ly/VA-polling. If you have questions about voting in the election, text us back, we’re here to help. – [ campaign name ]”


Broadcast texting: A broadcast text goes out to a large audience with responses handled automatically.


Sample election Day text from vote.org: “Election Day is Tuesday 11/7. Still registered at? {first line of address}. YES? Vote here {polling name} {polling address} from 6a-7p. Or double check your voting location at {link to polling place locator}”. Find information about what’s on your ballot here: https://virginia.ballotready.org.


SMS Opt-in: Voters text a keyword to a number to receive information on how to cast their vote. (Text VOTE to 33339.)

How many volunteers do I need?

P2P texting: A single volunteer can send out 2500 texts in the span of an hour. To reach a list of 10,000 voters it would take you around four volunteer hours.

Broadcast texting: One staffer. You are essentially writing a text and hitting a button to send it to the entire list in one go. Works similar to an email marketing campaign. 

SMS opt-in: Zero volunteers. You create the opt-in campaign, publish the number and let the software take care of handling responses.

What should I say?

Text messages that include ballot information, polling place location and/or information on identification required at the polls is more effective at getting people to the polls than texts that just remind people to vote.

Texts are also particularly effective at mobilizing young voters aged 18-24 who often feel left out of the political process.

Digital ads to get out the vote

What is the impact?

A 2018 study suggests that intensive, micro-targeted Facebook ads increased Republican turnout in the 2016 US Presidential election by 10% for key voter target groups.

Another study done on millennial voters during the 2015 Dallas mayoral election showed a more conservative improvement of 0.9% on turnout.

While we don’t have conclusive data on how big an effect GOTV ads have on voter turnout, we do know that they have a positive impact.

digital-ads-get-out-the-vote

Digital ads offer two advantages over other outreach channels:

  • You can target your ads, serving them only to the people that you wish to reach without the need to procure voter lists
  • Detailed live analytics on ads allow for quicks tweaks that can improve performance.
digital-ads-social-media-political-campaigns-rise

How do I set up ads?

If you are displaying digital ads on social media, choose your platform based on your voter demographics.

Targeting voters with Geofencing

Utilizing mobile GPS, Geofencing lets you choose a geographic area and show ads to the people within that area who access the platform you are advertising on. Facebook calls these “Local Awareness Ads”

How is this different from simply choosing a city or district to display your ads to?

Facebook and Instagram let you narrow your geographic area down to a circle as small as 1 mile in circumference. 

You can even choose to exclude areas within that circle for more precise targeting. The people within the chosen area can further be divided based on demographic data. Twitter has similar geo-fencing functionality that lets you target people based on the language they speak.

hillary-clinton-digital-ad-political-campaign

That means you have the ability to display hyper-hyper-local ads. For GOTV campaigns, That kind of precise targeting lets you reach people locally with personalized ads. Eg. Targeting a message to a college campus. 

Voter-File Targeted Ads

These ads don’t rely on a site like Facebook or Twitter, but follow a person. The ads show up on the websites they visit and the mobile apps they use. When targeting a voter-file via cookies or IP, you can have personalized ads for the intended voters. 

A data vendor like L2, that has a compiled voter-file can also assist you with display advertising for GOTV. 

How many volunteers do I need?

Unlike canvassing, phone banking or text messaging, you will need experienced campaign staff to run your digital ad campaigns.

Using digital ads for GOTV means you need a designer to create videos and banners and tweak them for performance along the way. 

You will need a digital ad manager to traffic, manage and report on the ads that are being run, as well as work with platforms that you use to display ads.

What should a GOTV ad say?

Your GOTV ads should include basic information a voter would need to vote or a link to that information. That includes:

  • The candidate’s name
  • The voter’s polling location
  • Polling hours
  • Numbers to call if they face issues at the polls or need a ride to their polling place
liberal-party-digital-ad-political-campaign

Note: If you are operating in a state where voting laws were recently changed, for example, recently tightened voter ID laws, it’s crucial to include that information as well.

Other get out the vote tactics

Email

Green and Gerber’s initial study, subsequent Yale University studies, and a 2016 study by VOTE.org all tell us the same thing – mass emails are ineffective at turning out voters.

email-get-out-the-vote-sample

While email is still a viable channel for coordinating GOTV efforts, your money is best spent elsewhere if the intent of your message is to get people to vote.

direct-postcard-mail-get-out-the-vote-sample

Direct mail or postcards

Unlike door to door canvassing and phone banking, direct mail mostly guarantees you’ll reach all targeted voters. While generic mailers are largely ineffective in moving voters to the polls, GOTV mailers that used social pressure tactics boosted turnout by 2.5 percentage points.

Further improving results from direct mails

A 2017 study by Analyst Institute found a 1.3 percentage point increase in turnout when social pressure mailers were combined with informational GOTV texts.

What does it cost?

Depends on how many you print. Wellstone puts the cost at around 58¢ per piece (including consultant/mail vendor fees) if you print 20,000 copies with the price coming down to 35¢ per piece for 100,000 copies and up.

Robocalls

Robocalls are a constant fixture in political campaigns owing to their low cost, ease of set up and consistent quality. But while they provide an easy way to create name recognition among voters, studies show minimal effect of robocalls on voter turnout. A 2013 study puts its positive effect at 0.16 percentage points.

A few areas where robocalls have shown impact for GOTV include:

  • Contacting single-voter households that are less likely to be remedied by peers.
  • Contacting senior voters. Unlike the average person who gives around 10 – 18 seconds for a robocall, seniors spend around 30 seconds listening to the call.
  • Election day follow-up for people who requested a reminder call during previous contacts.

Leafleting

Leaflets that provide polling place and candidate information increase voter turnout by less than 1 percentage point. Coupled with a face to face conversation, leaflets can create informed voters who are motivated to vote. Because leaflets can be distributed any time during the day, they also help you touch voters who could not be reached by a face-to-face canvass.

Posters

posters-get-out-the-vote-sample
Credit: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Research indicates posters can impact turnout by helping with name recognition and by triggering conversations around the elections.

This is especially important for first-time candidates who cannot afford to shell out on media appearances.

Yard signs

yard-sign-get-out-the-vote-sample

Yard signs are an indicator that elections are in full swing. A 2016 study suggests that they increase turnout by 1.7 percentage points. This is not conclusive and we need more research to provide a clear cut answer about the impact of yard signs on GOTV.

We do know that Wade Perry, the manager of Doug Jones’ Senate campaign swears by yard signs. The Jone campaigns used yard signs as a supporter identification channel where every person who wanted a yard sign had to give their name, address, telephone number, and email address. The campaign then used this data to mobilize supporters and volunteers for GOTV efforts.

You can download our yard sign templates to create your own yard signs.

What does a yard sign cost?

The cost of a yard sign largely depends on the material used in manufacturing it, the number of colors used, the art, as well as how many of them are bought at a time.

The cheapest yard signs can cost close to $2, with bigger signs being around $20. This is not including the cost of a wire holder to keep the signs upright at another $1.

Buttons and stickers

button-gotv-sample

Distributing buttons or stickers is another way of increasing your visibility in an election.

In the US, the “I voted” sticker, has been handed out to US voters at polling stations since the 1980s. With the advent of social media, these stickers have taken on a new level of significance, especially to motivate young people to vote. 

With young voters sharing proof of their ballot on sites like Instagram and Twitter, through selfies and hashtags, researchers have suggested that this helps even more people get to the polls.

sticker-gotv-sample

Choosing the right channels can significantly impact your chances of securing a vote. But an interesting caveat that shines through all of the research on voter turnout is that channels matter less than the nature of conversations you have across them.

  • Volunteers making phone calls performed 3 times better than professional callers.
  • Plan making messages to single-voter households performed 9 times better than the same messages to multiple-voter households.
  • Direct mail using social pressure tactics performed 5 times better than generic mailers.

Finding the right channel isn’t enough for you to move people to the polls. It is the nuances around your messaging that is going to have the most significant impact on getting people to vote for you.

The tactics mentioned above can act as a solid foundation to set up your GOTV campaign. But keep in mind that every campaign should be a measurable exercise where you track your return on investment.

This goes a long way to giving you the confidence to throw out the stuff that doesn’t work and come up with new ways to Get Out The Vote.

That could be anything from a psychologically sophisticated calling script to your very own GIPHY channel.

via GIPHY

If we’ve missed out any tactics or channels or if you come across additional research that can help expand the scope of this blog post, shoot me an email at [email protected].

Further Reading:

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